news 04 Feb 13

No Snap Polls Over Serbia PM 'Drug Gang Links'

Serbia's ruling Progressives rule out fresh elections after newspaper reports revealed links between Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and a key figure in a suspected drug baron's clan.

Bojana Barlovac

Aleksandar Vucic, leader of the Progressives, said on Monday that there will be no fresh elections even though that would suit his party's interests.

The political future of Serbia's Prime Minister is in doubt after media published leaked data documenting meetings between Dacic, the then head of his office, Branko Lazarevic, and Rodoljub Radulovic, a high-ranking member of suspected drug lord Darko Saric's gang.

The daily newspaper Blic said Dacic met Radulovic several times in 2008 and 2009 when Dacic was Interior Minister in the previous government.

Radulovic apparently asked him about ongoing police investigations into Saric's affairs and also gave him a cell phone from Saric.

Saric, who is of Montenegrin origin but holds Serbian citizenship, is the alleged leader of an organised criminal group suspected of smuggling cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

Prosecutors filed charges against Saric and his associates in April 2010 and issued a warrant for his arrest. Both Saric and Radulovic are at large.

The leaks against Dacic started last week, when the public service broadcaster, RTS, reported the existence of 130 discs containing police surveillance material linking Lazarevic to Radulovic and Saric.

Opposition DSS: Dacic no longer has legitimacy

The opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS,  said that Dacic no longer had any legitimacy to head the country and he needs to resign immediately after the findings concerning the contacts with head of the gang led by the runaway drug lord Darko Saric.

The Prime Minister called the leaks an attempt to discredit the government and him personally.

Dacic confirmed he had met Radulovic several times, adding that he had no confirmation at the time that Radulovic was a suspected criminal.

"The Interior Ministry's official documents on organized crime said that Saric's gang had 29 members, none of who was Radulovic," Dacic said on Saturday.

The scandal has meanwhile fuelled speculation about possible new general elections.

Dragan Djilas, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, said at a celebration of the party's 23rd anniversary on Sunday that Serbia was getting closer to early elections.

“The country is in recession... politics is becoming more like show business, there are irresponsible statements, violations of parliamentary resolutions and it is all leading toward something the DS did not ask for, which is elections,” Djilas said.

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