For a tiny landlocked country nestled in the Balkan peninsula, which has suffered divisions even in recent years with the independence of Kosovo and Montenegro, political and economic chaos has been tremendous.
Serbia is still on the road to achieving political transparency and economic stability. The country is in the hands of Alexander Vucic, the Prime Minister and the leader of the left-wing Serbian Progressive Party.
Among his various criticisms, his suppression of free speech and media censorship have been the most notorious.
Now, he is helping his friend, an ex-graduate of Washington University in St.Louis, to further jeopardize his country and follow his ‘progressive’ footsteps.
His friend is none other than Sinisa Mali, the powerful mayor of the city of Belgrade.
Mali prides himself on being a modern, progressive leader and has high ambitions to succeed Vucic in the future as the Prime Minister of the country.
But his criticisms are slightly tough to digest for the native Serbian population, whose GDP per capita is a touch over 6000 US$.
In 2012, Mali became the advisor for the economy to First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Following the ousting of Mayor Dragan Đilas in 2013, Mali was appointed President of the Temporary Council of Belgrade.
After the 2014 election in Belgrade, Mali was elected Mayor on the proposal of the victorious Serbian Progressive Party. Despite not being a party member, he shares close ties with the Prime Minister.
Reporters from Krik Serbia and Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, recently acquired documents which showed Mali is the director of off-shore companies and he secretly bought 24 luxury apartments on the Bulgarian Black sea coast.
The apartments are valued at 6.1 million US$, which is kind of astonishing considering Mali’s annual salary is not more than 39,000 US$.
Keep in mind, though, that Mali has denied the claims and has said his signature on the documents has been forged.
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project recently received a document from 2014 which bears many similarities to the one that he claims to be forged.
The recent piece of news that has immensely shocked the Serbian public occurred when it was revealed the Lukoil business, a giant Russian Oil Company, made a bid to privatize the Serbian gas company Beopetrol in 2003. .
Under the supervision of Mali’s department, the bid was completed for a whopping 134 million US$.
Mali was an official at the Serbian State Agency for privatization, at that time.
So, it is quite obvious how Mali became the direct owner of the apartments in Bulgaria.
These apartments were purchased by companies in the British Virgin Islands, notorious for keeping foreign assets and evading taxes and hiding the true beneficiaries of the assets from a different country.
Certainly, this has been the case for Mali, though he refuses it amid public speculations and scrutiny.
The problems are plenty for Serbia, and Mali, by no stretch of the imagination, is the right solution to them.
He’s a left-wing socialist with secretive personal transactions and a corrupt business record, still hidden from the country’s indigenous population; and to add to that, he’s a close friend of Prime Minister Vucic, a man renowned for his censorship of the press, with lofty PM ambitions.
He’s on the verge of becoming one of the most powerful people in the country and even in the continent, which is not much of a laughing matter for the people of Serbia.