Serbian PM at safe location after police discover arsenal nearby family home

Serbian PM at safe location after police discover arsenal nearby family home
By Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade October 30, 2016

Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is at a safe location after an arsenal of weapon was found near his family home in Belgrade, Minister of Interior Affairs Nebojsa Stefanovic announced on the evening of October 29.

In March 2003, Serbia’s first democratic Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was killed and his murder is seen as the main reason for the slowing of the country’s democratisation and modernisation. Memories of Djindjic’s murder are still fresh as is awareness of its consequences, so the news about the weapons found near Vucic’s house has raised concerns in Serbia.

Despite the discovery Vucic told journalists on October 30 that he did not plan to announce a state of emergency.

He added that he had no further information about the case, and that he hoped the incident was merely a coincidence. The stash was found close to Vucic’s father’s home in the Belgrade suburb of Jajinci, where the prime minister often stays.

According to local media, police special teams have been investigating the region intensively since the arsenal was found on the afternoon of October 29. Media reports suggest that a private citizen discovered the weapons and reported them to the police.

According to the government’s October 29 statement, the weapons were found at around 16.00 on the same day, in a wood by a road in Jajinci. Several crates found at the site contained a M80 Zolja anti-tank weapon, four hand grenades, 100 rounds of 7.62 millimetre bullets as well as ammunition for automatic weapons and sniper rifles, and between 10 and 15 rounds of unknown caliber.

Serbian media have been speculating that the weapons might be connected with the prime minister’s October 24 announcement that a police officer had leaked confidential police data to “a Western country’s intelligence service”. Recent developments have put Serbia’s efforts to balance its relations with Russia and the west into the spotlight. 

Vucic also announced that Serbia’s government has discovered “irrefutable evidence” that various illegal activities in the territory of Montenegro around the country’s October 16 general election were prepared in Serbia.

According to the government’s October 24 statement, Vucic said there was evidence that certain people had been monitoring the movements of Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic from Serbia. The evidence included confessions made by those involved, while police also discovered money and uniforms. However, Vucic added that a group of people arrested on election day in Montenegro has nothing to do with the activities revealed in Serbia.

The visit of the secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev to Belgrade on October 26 is reportedly linked to the discoveries in Serbia. Djukanovic has accused Russia of being behind efforts to influence the election. 

Djindjic was assassinated on March 12, 2003 in front of the government building. A few hours later, the government declared a state of emergency. He was killed by the criminal gang known as the Zemun Clan whose members were later sentenced for drug and weapon smuggling, and some also for war crimes committed during the Yugoslavian civil war.