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Party loyalty remains the best recommendation for the position of Head of Security Information Agency (BIA)

Appointment of the high ranking official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Bratislav Gasic to the position of the Head of the Serbian Security Information Agency is yet another proof that representatives of the Government have for years subordinated this important state institution to the party’s rather than to the national interests.

Srdjan Ilic: New director of BIA Bratislav Gasic
Foto: Srdjan Ilic / New director of BIA Bratislav Gasic

That there is no political will to reform this important institution is demonstrated by the Government’s decision to appoint the high official of the ruling party the Head of BIA, without him having any work experience in this institution, instead of someone qualified for the job.

In accordance with the Law on Security Information Agency, the Head of the Agency is appointed and relieved from duty by the Serbian Government. The Law also states that the Head of the Agency cannot be a party member.

Since the establishment of the BIA in mid-2002 as an independent Government agency, appointed at the head of this institution were mainly politically suitable candidates. In some cases, those appointed were even publicly close to the ruling parties, Prime Ministers or the President. Additionally, the Heads of BIA have not had a single day of work in the Agency.

Appointing the party official at the head of the BIA enables numerous misuses, especially bearing in mind that civil control over its work was never fully implemented.

Former Heads of BIA

The first Head of BIA was Andreja Savic, from its establishment to the beginning of 2003.

Despite the fact that Savic was not politically active and had the service record, the BIA was practically run by his Deputy, Milorad Bracanovic, the former Security Officer at the Unit for Special Operations (JSO). Bracanovic was close to Milorad Ulemek - Legija, the former Commander of the JSO who was convicted for murder of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Bracanovic was later convicted to four years in prison for not reporting the murder of Ivan Stambolic and the attempted assassination of Vuk Draskovic during the era of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

However, The Supreme Court has halved his sentence and, in March 2009, he was provisionally released based on good behavior.

In January 2003, two months before the assassination of the PM Zoran Djindjic, Misa Milicevic was appointed the Head of BIA. He was a man of the Agency, but was also known as “Djindjic’s man.”

Milicevic was relieved from duty after a year, when the leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Vojisav Kostunica was elected Prime Minister. Rade Bulatovic was then appointed the new Head of BIA. He was elected on the proposal of the DSS, the ruling party at the time.

Bulatovic also did not have any prior experience in the Agency, and during his four-year term, numerous affairs emerged.

Despite the fact that over ten indictees were sent to The Hague Tribunal during Bulatovic’s mandate, in 2012, the Prosecutor for war crimes, Vladimir Vuckovic, identified Bulatovic as one of the trustees hiding one of the most wanted Hague indictees Ratko Mladic.

At the same time, Vladimir Beba Popovic, former Head of the Communication Bureau of the Government of Zoran Djindjic, accused Bulatovic in an interview with Insajder for copying the entire archive of the Agency on disks, which he took with him to a meeting with the CIA. These allegations have never received an epilogue in court, although Popovic claimed that he had witnesses for this information.

After the Democratic Party (DS) won the parliamentary elections in 2008, Sasa Vukadinovic who was close to the DS was appointed the Head of BIA. During the state of emergency in 2003, Vukadinovic was the Head of Police in Krusevac and he arrested the leader of the local criminal clan Zoran Jotic.

Three days after Vukadinovic took office, Radovan Karadzic was arrested, which indicated that the BIA had to have information about Karadzic’s fake identity and whereabouts.

Although Vukadinovic achieved results as the Head of BIA, from arresting The Hague Tribunal indictees to disclosing Darko Saric’s drug cartel, the credits for success of the Agency were given to the late Miodrag Rakic, President Tadic’s advisor.

After Vukadinovic’s dismissal in 2012, Nebojsa Rodic was appointed the Head of the Agency, previously the Secretary General of the President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic. A year later, Rakic was replaced by the lawyer Aleksandar Djordjevic.

Djordjevic went to University with the current Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic. Both Rodic and Djordjevic never worked in the Agency before.

It remains unclear why Djordjevic was relived from duty. Even though PM Vucic often praised his work, his position was given to the high party official Gasic.

PM Vucic: Gasic is dedicated and loyal to the state

Bratislav Gasic was born in 1967. He has a Bachelor’s degree in economy.

He is one of the founders of the ruling Progressive Party and, since September 2012, he has been the Vice-president of the party. He is also the president of SNS for Rasina district.

Gasic was mayor of Krusevac for two years and, in 2014, he was appointed Minister of Defense. He was relived from duty in 2016, after his inappropriate and sexist remark about a TV B92 journalist.

During his mandate in the Ministry of Defense, an army helicopter crashed. Seven people were killed in the crash.

Because of the helicopter crash and the circumstances under which it happened, the opposition and part of the public demanded his resignation, but PM Vucic defended Gasic, saying: “I am not letting Gasic go.”

A year and a half after Gasic’s dismissal, PM Vucic said today that Gasic is “a hardworking, dedicated man, loyal to his country.”

Mina Milanovic

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