"Another minister to be arrested" on corruption charges
Serbian First Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić has told a Belgrade-based tabloid that he wishes an investigation to be carried out against a member of the cabinet.Source: B92, Danas, Press, Blic
According to a report in today's Blic, Vučić said that he was seeking the support of President Tomislav Nikolić and PM Ivica Dačić for this.
This is also the reason, the article continued, for the open letter than he sent on Monday, asking to receive the backing for his anti-corruption activities.
The daily further says that this issue has already caused differences between the ruling Socialists (SPS) and Progressives (SNS), considering that those suspected of wrongdoings have so far "mostly been people close to Dačić's SPS".
Blic also claims that Nikolić "had to reconcile Dačić and Vučić", and quotes the prime minister as saying that there have been "no differences" when it comes to the government's determination to fight corruption:
"The fight against crime and corruption and their decrease is a goal that this government announced and we have been together in that fight since it was formed. As prime minister, I expect the support and work of all ministers not only toward that goal, just as all ministers who are working to achieve the principles we had agreed on will have my support. The bureau against crime and corruption is working in its full capacity and very efficiently. The communication between the members of the government has quality beyond their meetings, which no longer take place as phone conferences."
Another Belgrade-based tabloid, Press, writes today that when it comes to the investigation into the former minister and opposition DS party MP, Oliver Dulić - who was on Monday stripped of his immunity by the Serbian parliament - public enterprise Putevi Srbije (Roads of Serbia) Director Zoran Drobnjak in his statement to the special prosecutor "made the connection between Minister of Transport Milutin Mrkonjić and the contentious issuing of permits to place optical cables on the Batrovci-Belgrade road to the Slovenian company Nuba Invest".
The daily quotes its source who claims that Drobnjak said he was "forced to sign a different decision on granting agreement to the Slovenian company", and that he also said in the investigation that "two ministers convinced him this was not about main infrastructure, but that the permit would apply only to a specific stretch between Batrovci and Belgrade", and that this situation "did not require a tender to be called, nor any more complex procedure".
Press writes that road infrastructure and the public company in question were in direct jurisdiction of the ministry headed by Mrkonjić, and claims that Drobnjak was appointed to head the company as "Mrkonjić's personnel".
Meanwhile, SPS Executive Board Chairman Branko Ružić confirmed that Drobnjak was "a cadre of the party":
"This is a man whose technical and professional knowledge was invested in the realization of strategic projects in the state of Serbia. That qualified him to, as a non-partisan figure, be suggested by the SPS for such a responsible role."
Ružić also told Belgrade-based newspaper Danas that Drobnjak "did more for the interest of the citizens of Serbia than those who are trying to criminalize him", and specified that the public company's head told investigators about the circumstances under which the permits had been issued, but that he did not make the statement as a suspect in the case.
According to Ružić, the SPS is standing for the fight against corruption as part of the current government, "and has proven that":
"The law must be the same for all and processes cannot be conducted in the media."
Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vučić said on Monday in Belgrade that he will continue the fight against corruption at an unfaltering pace although he knows that he is an eyesore for tycoons, certain politicians and their media.
“I am willing deliver an account of my work before the Serbian citizens,” Vučić said in a written statement for the public and added that he is responsible before Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić who appointed him as head of the Security Service Coordination Bureau.
Vučić sent a message to members of the government who have any doubts as to his professional performance of his duties that they can say so publicly, both to him and the public.
Vučić said that he entered the fight against corruption with a pure heart and with a clear conscience and specified that only three cases remained in the Prosecutor's Office after the previous government despite the continuous insistence on the need for tackling corruption.
The statement also says that Vučić tried to raise the fight against corruption to a considerably higher level ever since the president appointed him the head of the Bureau.
“I could not even dream that it would become clear at the beginning of the struggle that victims, both on the media and the political scene, should be those fighting crime while national heroes and the alleged victims of persecutions are those who robbed the country in the previous years,” Vučić said.