The investigative site Krik and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) yesterday published photos showing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s brother meeting with Zvonko Veselinovic, a mafia boss from northern Kosovo.
The photograph, which can be seen on the OCCRP website, shows Andrej Vucic sitting across the table from Veselinovic in a restaurant on Kopaonik mountain in the south of Serbia.
Another man is seated between them as they apparently enjoy each other’s company while watching a Red Star Belgrade basketball match on TV. The photographs were recently submitted to KRIK by a reader who took them with a mobile phone in March 2015. The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said he feared revealing sharing the photos until now for fear of reprisals.
According to Serbian police and intelligence reports, Veselinovic, who presents himself as legitimate businessman working in the transport and construction industries, is in fact a dangerous a criminal involved in loan sharking, money laundering, and drug and oil smuggling. Despite being charged many times in Serbia, mostly for crimes involving car theft, his only conviction is for illegal sand and gravel mining, for which he served a two-year sentence.
Meanwhile, Andrej Vucic, brother of Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, while holding no official position in the government and cultivating the image of a humble bank employee, is widely regarded as wielding significant political power behind the scenes.
While the purpose of their meeting is unknown, it is not the first evidence of contact between Vucic’s government and organised crime figures. It was previously revealed by OCCRP and Krik that current Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, when he was Interior Minister, held meetings with convicted cocaine smuggler Rodoljub Radulovic. Health minister Zlatibor Loncar is also reported to have connections with the Zemun clan, a drug trafficking cartel that was behind the assassination of former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić in 2003.
In a 2016 interview with KRIK, Vucic denied having any ties to Veselinovic.
“I saw Zvonko Veselinovic only once in my life. I saw him in Kosovo. It was in 2009. I heard that he once attended the same wedding that I did. But I did not see him,” Vucic said.
The president also said that he knew nothing about any contact between his brother and Veselinovic, saying he would have to “ask him about it.”
Contacted by Krik, Zvonko Veselinovic refused to see the photos and said he did not know Andrej Vucic, after initially saying he ‘may have’ met the president’s brother years ago.
The latter did not respond to journalists’ calls.