Serbian Minister’s Party Vilifies Editor as ‘Drug Addict’

Source/Author: Balkan Insight, BIRN, Maja Zivanovic
Source/Photo: Photo: Media Center Belgrade

BELGRADE, 19.09.2017. – After Serbia’s Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, KRIK, investigated the origin of money which Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin used to buy an apartment, his party called KRIK’s editor a “drug addict”.

Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin’s Movement of Socialists party lashed out after KRIK published a report on Monday alleging that Vulin bought an apartment in Belgrade under suspicious circumstances with money he had borrowed from his wife’s aunt in Canada.

Vulin’s party said in a statement that KRIK’s editor, Stevan Dojcinovic, was a “drug addict who needs to be tested for drugs”, and accused him of being paid by foreigners to attack the minister.

Dojcinovic described the statement from the Movement of Socialists, the junior partner in the ruling coalition in Serbia, as “bizarre”.

“But in it, they did not answer one question from our story or deny our discovery,” he told BIRN.

He also said he would take legal action.

“I will speak with lawyers and I will file charges against the person responsible [for the statement] at the Movement of Socialists,” he added.

KRIK’s report on Monday said the Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency sent a report to the prosecutor’s office in December 2015 after Vulin bought his apartment in Belgrade with 205,000 euros borrowed from his wife’s aunt.

But according to KRIK, the prosecutor’s office did nothing about the case for almost two years because, it said, the police ignored its request for them to investigate the matter.

However, after KRIK and the Insajder website first reported on the case in July this year, the prosecutor said it had ended the investigation and that there was no evidence that Vulin committed any criminal offence under its jurisdiction.

Vulin refused to comment on Monday’s KRIK allegations, but the Movement of Socialists insisted that all his property was registered and “earned by hard work”.

“Does the owner of KRIK have the courage to admit how much money he has received from foreigners in cash, undeclared?” the party’s statement asked.

“It’s no secret that Dojcinovic was paid from abroad for every article that attacks Vulin, and it’s not a secret he takes narcotics,” it alleged.

The statement also criticised him for having piercings and accused him of being anti-Serbian.

“Every enemy of Serbia is his friend, and anyone who loves Serbia and who fights for it, Dojcinovic hates immensely,” it said.

The party issued a second statement on Tuesday, again saying that Dojcinovic should take a drug test.

KRIK, which is also part of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), has won several prestigious Serbian and international awards.

On its website, it lists all its donors.

KRIK was mentioned in the lasted progress report on Serbia published by the European Commission in November 2016, in which it noted that the country had made no steps forward in terms of guaranteeing freedom of expression.

The Commission’s report criticised what is called the “environment of fear” created by the pro-government tabloid Informer last March when it exposed an ongoing investigation by KRIK.

Informer published pictures of Dojcinovic and his source, which some suspected were obtained from secret police surveillance.

Dojcinovic said that such attacks cannot destroy his reputation but could jeopardise his security and that of other KRIK journalists.

He recalled that police have still not yet found out who broke into the apartment of KRIK journalist Dragana Peco more than two months ago.