Serbia: Vucic Cleared Of Abuse In Presidential Elections


By Filip Rudic

Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Agency has ruled that President Aleksandar Vucic did not break the law banning use of public resources for political promotion in the spring presidential election campaign, which he won.

The Agency decided that President Aleksandar Vucic did not break the law that bans using public resources for political promotion when he made an election campaign video in the parliament’s library.

It told BIRN the filming was justified citing security reasons, since both the library and Vucic as then-Prime Minister enjoyed the same level of special protection.

The Agency also decided that Vucic did not abuse his position as Prime Minister during the campaign for presidential elections.

The Agency told BIRN that Vucic “did not promote the political party he belongs to [in the presidential campaign] or its programme, nor did he name the party he leads [the Serbian Progressive Party], which would have undoubtedly been a breach of the Law.”

This law says public officials may not use public resources or meetings they attend in an official capacity to promote political parties and subjects. Violations can result in a fine of 50,000 up to 150,000 dinars, equal to 400 to 1,200 euros.

Ahead of the April 2 elections, various watchdogs accused Vucic of breaking the law by using his post as Prime Minister to advance his campaign for the presidency.

Serbia’s Bureau for Social Research, BIRODI, said it had identified 11 cases in which Vucic broke the law, that the Agency has now looked at.

Among them was Vucic’s visit to the Etihad Airways Center in Belgrade on March 13, when he accused the opposition of wanting to destabilize the country.

BIRODI also alleged Vucic broke the law during the visit of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on March 3, when he commented on her meetings with opposition figures and other presidential candidates. The Agency decided the law was not breached on that occasion, either.

The Anti-Corruption Agency also found nothing illegal in Vucic’s official visit to a weapons manufacturer in the central town of Velika Plana, where he again talked about the presidential elections, saying the opposition’s only plan was to remove him from office.

The Agency also addressed the interview that PM Vucic gave to the Viennese daily newspaper “Der Standard”, in which, among other things, he warned that Serbia’s economy would drop and debts would rise if the Progressive Party lost the presidential elections.

According to the Agency’s decision, this was not a breach of the law because Vucic “gave this statement as an answer to a question that a journalist working for foreign media put to a presidential candidate”.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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