Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dritan Abazovic, has today accused two former high-ranking police officers of lifting the ban on two gang members from entering Montenegro in December 2020.
The State Prosecution yesterday ordered that the two police officers, Zoran Lazovic and Enis Bakovic, be detained for questioning over the incident.
On August 26, Veljko Belivuk and Marko Miljkovic of the Belivuk gang were banned from entering Montenegro due to national and internal security reasons; in January, police management lifted the ban.
Known as “Velja Nevolja” (Velja the Trouble), Belivuk once led the “Janjicari” (Janissaries), a so-called football fan group formed in 2013 with links to private security contractors. Gang members also had links to government officials, including a senior police officer and secretary-general.
An MP from the ruling Democratic Montenegro, Danilo Saranovic, has called for an investigation into connections between former police management and the gang.
“The point is not which police officer technically executed the order and lifted the ban on entry into Montenegro for Belivuk and Miljkovic. It is which former assistant police director ordered the lifting of the ban,” he said.
Montenegro’s new government dismissed then-assistant police chief Zoran Lazovic, as well as six other police directors’ assistants, after the ruling coalition called for his removal over alleged ties to organised crime groups. Lazovic is now accused of being responsible for lifting the ban on the gang
He has denied the allegations.
Serbia has a long history of grappling with organised crime and so-called hooliganism. During the Balkan wars throughout the 1990s, paramilitaries welcomed criminals with open arms- including the infamous “Tigers” militia headed by the late Zeljko Raznatovic, or “Arkan”. Arkan was a known Serbian mobster, and remained the most powerful organized crime figure in the Balkans until his assassination in January 2000.
During peacetime, organized crime groups have cooperated to shape public opinion. Former fighters helped bring down former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic during a 24-hour revolution; Milosevic later died in his prison cell while awaiting trial for war crimes at the Hague.
Serbia’s Organised Crime prosecutor Mladen Nenadic announced in July that an investigation into the Belivuk group in Serbia was underway.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0