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News 29 Oct 16

Serbian PM 'Moved to Safety' After Weapons Find

In a dramatic development, Serbia's Interior Minister said Prime Minister Vucic had been 'moved to safety' after police found large quantities of weapons hidden close to his home.

Gordana Andric
BIRN
Belgrade
Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbian interior minister. Photo: Beta

Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia's Interior Minister, on Saturday said police had found several hand grenades, bazooka and large quantities of ammunition for machine-guns and snipers, hidden in the woods near Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic's family home, close to Belgrade.

“It is very disturbing that [the hidden weapons] were located on this turning, where the Prime Minister’s vehicle must slow down to minimal speed … That is an ideal distance, of only 50 metres, for such weapons to be used,” Stefanovic said on Saturday evening.

Stefanovic stated that the Prime Minister had been moved to safe location and the investigation at the scene would last the whole night.

“The Prime Minister never wants to talk about his security, he talks about the economy... pensions and salaries, but I have to tell people that although he enjoys physical protection, that is not enough and [he] must have the protection of the intelligence [services] and I’m going to ask for information [from them],” Stefanovic said.

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic called on all institutions in charge of safeguarding the Prime Minister to show extra vigilance, considering – he wrote - the current escalating pressures on Serbia.

“Many in the world find a country and leader who are running independent policies and not working in anyone's interest - except Serbia's - a problem. [But] History has shown that they can always easily find a Serbian arm to do the dirty work for them,” Dacic wrote.

On October 25, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said the authorities in Podgorica would investigate the extent of Russian and Serbian involvement in a alleged coup attempt there.

Twenty people, including the former commander of the Serbian Gendarmerie Bratislav Dikic, were arrested in Montenegro on October 16 on suspicion of planning to overthrow Djukanovic.

On October 24, Prime Minister Vucic said the Serbian authorities had arrested several people who were allegedly following Djukanovic and planning illegal acts in Montenegro. However, he also insisted they had no connection to the Serbian state, but had connections to a unnamed third country.

The Serbian Prime Minister also claimed the number of members of “powerful foreign intelligence agencies”, from both East and West, was increasing in Serbia. He added that a senior police officer had also been arrested for “disclosing confidential information” to a foreign intelligence service.

On Thursday, the Serbian daily Danas reported that Serbia had expelled several Russians for alleged involvement in illegal activities in Montenegro. BIRN could not verify this information independently. 

The expulsions came as Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev was visiting Serbia, advocating closer cooperation between the countries' respective intelligence agencies.

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