On Friday morning, four high-ranking Serbian military officials were purged from their positions, including Svetko Kovac, the Director of the Military Security Agency (VBA); Dragan Vladisavljevic, Director of the Military Intelligence Agency (VOA); Jovan Mijakovic, Deputy Minister of Defense for Human Resources; and Miladin Vujanovic, the Inspector General of the Ministry of Defense.
No reason was given for the dismissals. New deputies were appointed, but the directors’ positions have been left vacant.
This comes as rather troubling news to those who have noted the longstanding mistrust between the military and state security services. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic currently controls the entire state security security apparatus. When he stepped down as Defense Minister late last year, he appointed Nebojsa Rodic, the head of Serbia’s notorious Security Intelligence Agency (BIA) to replace him. Rodic, who played a controversial role in Slobodan Milosevic’s government, is considered loyal to Vucic.
Friday’s purges were proposed by Rodic, and subsequently approved by the government. Some are concerned that the removal of chief military personnel, which follows Rodic’s appointment as Defense Minister last year, will deepen Vucic and the BIA’s control over military affairs.
In a conversation with Balkanist, a former official from the U.S. Defense Attache office in Belgrade praised the Serbian military for having made numerous reforms and for its professionalism. However, he said that the state security services had failed to make any such reforms. Prominent figures in Serbia have long said the same thing.
News of the high-level military dismissals comes the same week as the well-publicized arrest of two former state security officers for killing a prominent Serbian journalist, Slavko Curuvija, nearly 15 years ago. The two suspects, Milan Radonjic and Ratko Romic, were members of the Milosevic-era state security agency DB, the precursor to today’s BIA.
Photo Credit: Kurir