Serbia selects its ambassadors from the secret services, in Macedonia they have a special mission

Late last year, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic appointed Nebojsa Rodic, former ambassador to Austria and former director of the Security and Information Agency (BIA), as ambassador to Montenegro.

"Nebojsa Rodic has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Serbia to Montenegro. This decree enters into force on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia," it was published in the Official Gazette at the end of December. The appointment of people from the security structures as ambassadors is a continuous practice in Serbia, which has people from the information security sector in its missions abroad. The BIA also has its own person in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia. The appointment of Rodic, who is known as the most trusted person of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and who belongs to the "hard wing of Serbian politics", as Serbia's diplomatic representative in Montenegro is not surprising, given that for the regime in Belgrade Montenegro is part of the plans for "Greater Serbia" under the code "Serbian World". Rodić took over as head of the BIA in August 2012 from the position of Secretary General of the then President of Serbia and leader of the progressives, Tomislav Nikolic. Already in the first months of this position, Rodic was faced with the affair with the tapping of the phones of Nikolic and Vucic. It is alleged that the telephone conversations of the President of the State and the Deputy Prime Minister were requested by the "Criminal Police" department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which the BIA uncovered and prevented. In the reformed government of the Republic of Serbia, Rodić was elected Minister of Defense in September 2013 and held this position until April 2014, after which he was sent several times to the positions of ambassador (until recently he was in Vienna).

"In Serbia, security guards, that is, people who work in security structures, go very far. In a way, these structures become a springboard for their further career," Serbian diplomat Srečko Džukić told Montenegrin media. Answering the question of what might be Rodić's first task after arriving in Montenegro, Džukić explained that before accepting the post, the ambassador meets with a number of people in the country and that he receives his final instructions from the one who signed the decree for his appointment - the head of state.

Before Rodić, the ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro was Vladimir Božović, a member of the SPP, a native of Nikšić with a colorful background, who was declared "persona non grata" in December 2020 for violating diplomatic rules. He was also banned from entering Montenegro, as he was labeled a "carrier of malign influence for the interests of foreign services". In addition to the title of "persona non grata", Božović is followed by numerous labels that have been attached to him in Belgrade's political and media circles. The most resonant is certainly the one he got from the days he was stationed in the Student City when he started working in the security service, carrying out the orders of the "New Belgrade" detachment of the State Security Department of Serbia (RDB), which in turn, kept the criminal charges against him in a drawer since the early 1990s and thus saved him from a multi-year sentence, got him a degree from the Faculty of Law and a bar title after an orchestrated arrangement in Borivoj Borovic's office.

Bojović was the Inspector General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the administration of Vojislav Kostunica and then a member of the Serbian Movement for the Restoration of Vuk Drašković. He is remembered for popularizing the report of the Chief Inspectorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from March 2005 regarding the investigative actions ("Splav" action) in the case of the "Makina group", suspected of the murder of police general Boshko Buha on June 10. , 2002. The epilogue of this report is the November 19, 2004 acquittal of this criminal group due to "lack of evidence" - in order to accuse Djindjic's closest associates of fabricating statements against Željko Maksimović Maka. The Montenegrins gave up on Božović, but Serbia did not - on November 16, 2023, he was appointed Consul General of Serbia in New York.

The Serbian regime chooses very carefully who to appoint to ambassadorial positions not only in Montenegro, but also in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, because "half of Bosnia and all of Montenegro is," as Aleksandar Vulin, former head of the BIA and a person who says that , which Aleksandar Vucic thinks, often points out.part of the process of "unification of the Serbian countries". Before Rodic's departure from the BIA in September 2013, the director's post had been vacant for more than a month, and the selection of a new head of the security agency had been obstructed, according to his own statement, by Serbia's then-deputy prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic. He explained to journalists that he was not satisfied with the proposed candidates and added that this was "too important a place to make too quick a decision". And it was decided - Aleksandar Djordjevic, a close friend of Vucic, his classmate. Djordjevic headed the BIA for almost four years - until May 29, 2017.

During Djordjevic's tenure at the helm of the BIA, a famous assassination attempt on Vucic was allegedly thwarted near his house in Jajinci, where a pistol, four hand grenades, 100 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, and several rounds of ammunition were found with automatic weapons and 10 -15 bullets of unknown caliber. Although not even a year had passed, the prosecutor's office dropped the trial because there was not enough evidence to initiate criminal proceedings, which left the public with the impression that the whole event was a poorly staged performance. to portray Vucic as a victim. Djordjevic tried to shift responsibility from himself by firing three longtime and award-winning BIA employees involved in all of the state's most large-scale and sensitive actions. After being relieved of his post as head of the BIA in mid-2017, he continued his political career as Serbia's ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He will be remembered as the first ambassador from Dayton who refused to come to the presidency of BiH. First, in July 2020, he canceled a meeting with the then chairman of the BiH presidency Sefik Jaferovic "due to an urgent call to Belgrade". Namely, Jaferovic invited Djordjevic to express his protest against the verdict by which BiH citizen Husein Mujanovic was convicted before a court in Serbia for alleged war crimes committed on the territory of BiH, as well as a protest against the practice of criminal prosecution of BiH citizens carried out by the Serbian authorities. A year later, Djordjevic categorically refused the invitation to the meeting of the then chairman of the BiH presidency, Zeljko Komsic, at which the arrested Edin Vrane was supposed to be discussed. His term expired this summer, and Ivan Todorov was appointed to diplomatic service in Sarajevo at the end of October this year.

BIA with a "special task" in Macedonia

Serbia, that is FRY, sent its people from the service as diplomats to Macedonia. The late Zoran Janackovic, one of Slobodan Milosevic's close associates, a diplomat and long-time high-ranking SPS civil servant, was a diplomat in Skopje. In 1990 and 1991, he was the head of the Federal State Security (FSS). However, a big stain in the diplomatic relations between the two countries will remain the case from 2017, when Serbia sent Goran Živalević Guta, a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and BSK, on ​​a "special assignment" to Macedonia. Živalević's deliberate invasion of the Macedonian assembly on the night of April 27, 2017, when there was a political clash between supporters of Nikola Gruevski and Zoran Zaev in an attempt to prevent the election of a representative of the minority Albanian party to head the parliament, speaks of a certain "task" , which Življevic had, or for a wrong move that in a certain way reveals some other intentions on the part of Serbia or other security factors and casts doubt on the bad moves and assessments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the BIA of Serbia. Serbia's then-foreign minister Ivica Dacic defended Živalević, stressing that he had not violated diplomatic protocols and that he had only reported on the situation in Macedonia because "Serbia should know how this situation can affect national and state interests. " According to him, Živalević did not do anything that violated the Vienna Convention and diplomatic protocols, that his job was to inform what was happening in Macedonia and whether the citizens of Serbia were also involved in these events. Asked with whom Živalević entered the Sobrane, Dacic said : "Well, let me tell you now," then read a list of names of people from Macedonia who had organized protests against Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Serbia and said they had already informed Macedonia about it for two years. Vucic's justification for Živalević was that he did not go to the Assembly "on his own". to go there and asked if they minded and if they allowed him. And they were aware of his presence." Serbian officials said after the event that Živalević was a legitimate representative of the BIA in Macedonia and that his job was to report for the disturbances in the Assembly, while the Macedonian authorities declared that his presence was interference in the internal affairs of Serbia. "They said that Živalević was the person responsible for the events in Sobrane, that he did it together with the Russian services, because it was too much for them to say that the Russians paid so much attention to a Macedonia, so they had to implicate someone else in some way," Vucic said, without specifying who he meant.

At the end of May of that year, journalists from KRIK, Macedonian TV Nova and OCCRP received documents from the Macedonian secret services, which show that Živalević conducted propaganda campaigns to promote Russian politics, former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the fight against Macedonia's entry into NATO . According to the Macedonian service, the member of the Macedonian parliament and president of the Democratic Party of the Serbs Ivan Stoilkovic, as well as the member of the SNC and the late Serbian journalist and later diplomat in Moscow Miroslav Lazanski, were involved. Before coming to the diplomatic mission in Skopje, Živalević was a diplomat in Croatia in 2014, where local intelligence complained to Serbian colleagues about his work after he left Croatia. Živalević was the Consul General of Serbia in Banja Luka and one of the kidnappers of Vladimir Nikolić, the former head of analyzes of the State Security Department (RDB) of Serbia, who was in the office of the director of the Construction Land Fund, Veselin Bošković, Danica's brother Drashkovic, the wife of Vuk Drashkovic.

Before the RDB-directed Ibarska Magistral murder, which was intended for Veselin Bošković and Vuk Drašković, the leader of the SPO, people from the RDB kidnapped Vladimir Nikolić, and Živalević was among the kidnappers. Until 2005, Živalević was a witness, and later became a defendant, for obtaining statements by force from Nikolic in custody. It all ended with a "showdown" between members of the security service. Živalević personally questioned Vladimir Nikolić, who spoke about it in the "Insajder" show in 2005: Vladimir Nikolić: A traffic police patrol stopped me, told me to leave the car, open the trunk. As I was opening the trunk, the famous white van approached, four guys ran out of the white van, like terrorists put a bag over my head, handcuffed me and put me in the van. They took me who knows where for two or three hours and took me to that basement.

B92: And who was this interrogator who questioned you and what did they question you about? Vladimir Nikolic: The investigator was Goran Živalević, he was promoted after these changes, that is, he advanced and became the deputy director of the State Security Service. The BIA told B92 that Zivalevich was suspended in June 2006, but sued the agency in court, which reinstated him in February 2008 because, under the Police Act, the six-month period in which an employee can be removed from work. Živalević worked in the counter-intelligence sector (RDB) in Belgrade, mainly on the activities of foreigners, foreign diplomats and journalists. He was a trusted person in the structures of the RDB as a good operative, a reliable person who was appointed to the position of deputy head of the BSK before the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 "after thorough checks and searching for people who have not soiled themselves ". When asked why there was no intelligence protection and how they allowed the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to happen, Živalević, then deputy head of the BIA, said that the tasks of securing government officials were excluded from the scope of work and that the at the time of the murder, the MUP had full jurisdiction over this work. UDBAS Consul General in Rijeka In early January 2017, the Government of Serbia appointed Goran Petrovic, a former RDB chief who joined the "service" in 1986, to the post of Consul General in Rijeka. His term expired last September. For a long time, Petrovich worked on the counterintelligence work of the West. His career came to an abrupt halt in 1999, when the "July Adjustment" led by Rade Markovic removed him from office. This continued until the changes on October 5, after Zoran Djindjic's government appointed him head of the RDB at the first meeting. Among other things, he was entrusted with the mandate to investigate the most monstrous crimes of the Milosevic regime, many of which bore the stamp of the notorious office. Shortly after taking office, while talking to Djindjic and Dusan Mihajlovic on Krunska Street in Belgrade, his driver, who was waiting for him, was shot dead. The best assessment of his work as a chief was given by members of the Special Operations Unit, who made his removal one of the main conditions for ending the armed insurgency since November 2001. BIA in Ukraine Former Serbian ambassador to Ukraine Rade Bulatovic also stood at the helm of the BSK practically from the arrest and held this post during the two governments of Vojislav Kostunica. After Djindjic's murder, on March 12, 2003, Bulatovic was arrested as part of the police operation Sablia on suspicion of "association for the purpose of hostile activity".

As the media reported at the time, there were allegations that he and General Aco Tomic met secretly with Dusan Spasojevic and Milorad Ulemek Legia. Bulatovic was released after three months, the charges were dropped and he was awarded compensation for wrongful detention. In 2013, the President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, appointed Bulatović as Ambassador to Kyiv, and he held this position until August 2019. During his service in Kyiv, he was also Ambassador to Georgia, on a non-resident basis. His mandate in Ukraine will be marked by friction in relations between the two countries. Namely, when in 2015 Alexander Aleksandrovich became the diplomatic representative of Ukraine in Belgrade, his country was already at war with Russia. Ambassador Aleksandrović, known as a diplomat "without hair on the tongue", knew how to click when diametrically opposed interests intertwined - especially when Serbia pointed out that there is no greater friend than Russia in the defense of territorial integrity, while Ukraine has no greater enemy from Russia when it comes to threats to its territorial integrity. In 2017, Bulatovic was invited to Belgrade for consultations after Ukrainian ambassador Aleksandrovic drew the ire of official Belgrade with statements that "Moscow is using Serbia and the Serbian factor" and that "Russia is training mercenaries to kill Ukrainians."

The position of head of the BIA in Serbia is currently vacant and will await the formation of a new government after Aleksandar Vulin, who was placed on the US sanctions list in July for "corruption and involvement in drug trafficking and ties to Russia," resigned in early November 2023 feature. Vulin maintains regular direct contact with Russian officials. In mid-December, he was in Moscow, where he met with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev. Patrushev emphasized that he highly values ​​the courage and "dedication" of Alexander Vulin in the struggle to preserve the independent and libertarian position of the Serbian people and state. Vulin's portfolio - from the director of the government service for Kosovo, through the defense and internal affairs departments he led to the position of the first person of the Serbian secret services - makes him an excellent candidate for the post of ambassador./BGNES