International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance delegation visits BiH

February 13, 2024

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Deputy Minister of Defence for Resource Management Aleksandar Goganovic received a delegation from the DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, FENA news agency reported Tuesday.

Head of the Security Sector Reform Program, Alexander Walsh, and advisor in the Department for International Consultations, Viola Csordas, were interested in the Ministry's results in the field of improving human resources management, which is one of the missions of this centre. The guests also wanted to hear about the challenges faced by the defence system in the field of finance, personnel, procurement, structure, organization and staffing of the Armed Forces of BiH, that is, about areas in which they can provide support through the implementation of international projects.

Deputy Minister Goganovic informed the delegation about all the topics they were interested in and pointed out the necessity of improving the living and working conditions of members of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina at military locations and their material status.

”Personal income and better living and working conditions at military locations will certainly contribute to increasing the interest of young people in becoming part of the defence system, which was done last year,” Goganovic said.

He also stressed the importance of schooling, education and training of professional military personnel within the defence system and certainly equipping the BiH Armed Forces, as key factors for a functional and operational military.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/geneva-centre-for-security-sector-governance-delegation-visits-bih/

RTS says security agency broke up spy ring

February 12, 2024

The Serbian state TV (RTS) said on Monday that four people had been arrested for espionage by the country’s top civilian security agency.

“Security Information Agency (BIA) personnel and public prosecutors broke up another spy network in Serbia and arrested four people on suspicion of espionage,” the RTS said.

It added that “security structures” confirmed to the pro-regime Tanjug agency that the BIA discovered that an office of an unnamed foreign organization was involved in intelligence and subversion activities in Serbia. It said the alleged spies were Serbian nationals.

According to the RTS, the two people employed by the foreign organization gathered information about state bodies and institutions and several state-owned companies as well as from defense system sources, especially the military security services with focus on certain state officials. It said that the other two are employees of state bodies who passed on classified information through encrypted devices for cash.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/rts-says-security-agency-broke-up-spy-ring/

North Macedonia rejects allegations from Pristina regarding Kurti’s assassination

February 10, 2024

North Macedonia’s Interior Ministry stated on Saturday that there was no attempt to assassinate Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti during his stay in Skopje.

In a statement to Telegrafi Makedonija, the Ministry spokesperson Toni Angelovski said that there was no attempt to kill Kurti and that police security for Kurti was determined according to rules and protocols.

„We would like to inform you that there was no assassination attempt during the visit of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to Skopje. As for security during Prime Minister Kurti’s visit, it was organized according to predetermined rules and security prices,“ said Angelovski.

The Kosovo Public Service reported that Kurti was under strict security measures during his stay in Skopje, as there was information about an assassination attempt on him.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, said on Saturday that during the meeting with the sister Socialist Party members in Skopje, he received information about „numerous threats from individuals and structures that have roots in the official Belgrade,“ Radio-Television of Kosovo (RTK) reported and added that „there is information about an assassination attempt on Kurti“.

The Serbian Ambassador to the US, Marko Djuric, said that these claims are „science fiction,“ and linked them to the „fiasco“ that “Kurti experienced at the UN Security Council, when 13 out of 15 members expressed a serious concerns about his moves“.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/north-macedonia-rejects-allegations-from-pristina-regarding-kurti-s-assassination/

Woman killed in Tuzla by off-duty police officer

February 8, 2024

A shooting took place on Wednesday evening, in the Brcanska Malta neighborhood of Tuzla, in which a woman was killed by a drunk off-duty police officer named Elvis Custendil.

“According to current information, [the woman] was most likely shot from an official gun,” said the Tuzla Canton’s Prosecution spokesperson Admir Arnautovic, adding that the victim’s name is Amra Kahrimanovic, from Tuzla.

He confirmed that the suspect was apprehended shortly after the murder.

“Not long after the murder, he was apprehended in front of the building, it happened 15-20 minutes after the murder. The suspect is a police officer, he was off duty that night,” he confirmed.

Director of the Police Administration, Dzevad Korman, told the press that police officer Elvis Custendil (51) killed Amra Kahrimanovic (52) in a catering establishment located within a shopping center in Tuzla. He said that Custendil shot from an official Glock pistol.

Kahrimanovic was not an accidental victim and Custendil shot at her in a targeted manner. Several rounds were fired. Custendil worked as a police officer of the Operational Center of the Police Department of the Tuzla Canton Interior Ministry,” said Korman.

When asked by a journalist whether police officers and inspectors are required to return their service pistols during vacation or sick leave, Korman said:

“Police officers must return their weapons while on vacation or sick leave at the police station. The said officer was on annual vacation. His obligation was to return the weapon. He was on the third day of the annual leave and clearly did not comply with the rules. He is not known as a conflicted person before. Until this moment, we have no information that Elvis had conflicts and problems with his colleagues. It was never officially reported,” Korman stated.

He added that a few years ago the uspect was reprimanded for breach of duty.

“Elvis was reprimanded in 2020 for breach of duty because he caused a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol. And then he was disciplinary processed”, Koroman pointed out.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/woman-killed-in-tuzla-by-off-duty-police-officer/

Police find rifle during raid on migrant center near Sarajevo

February 8, 2024

Over 150 police officers conducted a search in the Blazuj migrant center late on Wednesday night. The operation began at around 10:30 pm. According to unofficial information obtained by N1, everything was preceded by findings about a potential conflict between a group of migrants.

As N1 learns, the searches in the Blazuj reception center were conducted based on the operational knowledge of the Service for Affairs with Foreigners of BiH and partner agencies that there could be a conflict between groups of migrants on the night of February 7 to 8.

According to unconfirmed information, a rifle was also discovered near the Blazuj reception center on February 7, which was another reason for searches inside the center in order to protect migrants fighting in the camp, as well as officials working with them.

Mersiha Novalić, the spokesperson for the Sarajevo Canton Interior Ministry, previously told N1 that the Sarajevo Canton police officers searched individuals, things and premises in order to find illegal arms, narcotics and other objects that can be used to endanger the safety of beneficiaries and employees of the center, or that originate from the commission of crimes.

A man whose initials are A.J. born in 1998 in Algeria, was apprehended on suspicion of possessing and facilitating the consumption of narcotic drugs, in whose possession the police found a plastic bag containing a substance that looks like marijuana. The suspect was handed over to the Premises for Detention of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the Sarajevo Canton Interior Ministry, the police said Thursday morning.

During the raid, a bag was found containing 38 packets of marijuana-like substance. Also, the police confiscated wooden sticks and similar objects found at the center that could threaten physical injuries and the safety of beneficiaries and employees.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/police-find-rifle-during-raid-on-migrant-center-near-sarajevo/

Hungarian Major General Sticz assumed the duties of EUFOR commander

January 31, 2024

Major General Laszio Sticz from the Armed Forces of Hungary is the commander of EUFOR in BiH as of today. Sticz took over command from the former commander of the Austrian Armed Forces, Major General Helmut Habermayer.

The new EUFOR commander emphasized that he will continue the work of his predecessor with full commitment to the Althea mission.

“We are here to support the local government, primarily the Armed Forces and law enforcement authorities, but we have the power to return and if necessary to defend against anyone who wants to destroy the safe and stable environment,” said Commander Sticz.

The EU Special Representative, Ambassador Johann Sattler, attended the handover ceremony and wished Major General Stigza success in his duties.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/hungarian-major-general-sticz-assumed-the-duties-of-eufor-commander/

Bosnia’s annual arms exports reached €119 million

December 14, 2023

A total of 227 permits for arms exports were issued in BiH, of which 222 permits were partially or fully used, Srpska.info news portal said on Thursday.

The value of the planned export according to the issued permits was 257,027,210 euros, and the total value of the realized amount was 119,137,029 KM.

These data are stated in the Report that arrived from the Council of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to established practice, the information is several years old, so this report also refers to the year 2019.

Out of a total of 50 countries in the world for which export licenses were issued, licenses were not implemented for Chad, India and Kazakhstan.

On the other hand, more than 65 percent of exports refer to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, said Srpska.info.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnias-annual-arms-exports-reached-e119-million/

Serbian military get new vehicles

December 12, 2023

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Milos Vucevic and Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) Chief of General Staff General Milan Mojsilovic toured Tuesday the newly acquired vehicles for the SAF at the army barracks in the city of Pancevo, said the Ministry in a press release.

The new vehicles are part of the Model for the procurement of non-combat vehicles for the Serbian Armed Forces through various capital projects that are to be implemented by 2028, and the current project aims to procure vehicles designed to transport people, freight vehicles with large load capacity, as well as special non-combat vehicles, said the Ministry.

Head of the Logistics Directorate (J-4, General Staff), Major General Srdjan Petkovic, and Colonel Dragisa Zinaja from the same directorate, presented the new vehicles, their characteristics and purpose to Minister Vucevic and General Mojsilovic.

The new vehicles include all-terrain quads, the first ever bought for the Serbian Armed Forces, and those with larger load capacity – semi-trucks and modern freight cars with a loading ramp, a bus and fire engines for extinguishing all types of fires.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-military-get-new-vehicles/

Europe's most wanted fugitive arrested near Sarajevo

December 11, 2023

One of Europe's most wanted fugitives, Bosnian national Mladen Samardzija, was arrested on Monday on Mount Jahorina near Sarajevo.

Unofficially, 33-year-old man is suspected of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Samardzija was arrested by the police of Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity.

According to the eumostwanted.eu website, accused of a criminal offence of Unlawful Manufacture and Trade of Narcotic Drugs, for which the perpetrator shall be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 years. He is wanted for a longer period of time and he is dangerous, the website said.

Samardzija also holds the citizenship of Slovenia.

Republika Srpska Ministry of Interior confirmed the initially published information, stating that the suspect was apprehended within the police operation codenamed ‘Tokio’ aimed at the arrest of the member of organised crime group, who was dealing with drug trade.

The police operation is a result of an investigation that was carried out under the supervision of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After Slovenia issued an Interpol warrant after Samardzija, he fled the country and entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, from where he continued to run the organised criminal group that was operating on the territories of the European Union, BiH, Serbia and Montenegro.

The operation was carried out with support of Europol.

The suspect will be handed over to the State Prosecutor's Office for further processing.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/europes-most-wanted-fugitive-arrested-near-sarajevo/

New Defense Inspectorate director appointed

December 11, 2023

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Milos Vucevic presented to Major General Zeljko Petrovic a decree by Serbian President and Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) Supreme Commander Aleksandar Vucic on his appointment as new Defense Inspectorate director.

Minister Vucevic congratulated General Petrovic on his new appointment and wished him even more success in fulfilling the tasks at the Defense Inspectorate.

Major General Zeljko Petrovic (56) has been in active service since 1990. He finished the Military Academy in 1990, General Staff School in 1999, General Staff Course in 2007, and the Advanced Security and Defense Studies in 2013. He was commander of the Training Command.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/new-defense-inspectorate-director-appointed/

Bosnian police discover two illegal camps of armed migrants

December 8, 2023

Border police officers and members of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina found two camps of illegal migrants who had weapons and ammunition along the country's border with Croatia, it was confirmed on Friday at the SIPA headquarters in East Sarajevo.

As stated in a press release, the search of the area of Donji Svilaj near the Sava, near which the border crossing is also located, was conducted in the night between Thursday and Friday.

“Police officers found a large number of migrants in two improvised camps and a certain amount of firearms and ammunition,” the press release said.

The migrants were placed under detention, and the BiH Prosecutor's Office was informed and would take over the investigation of this case.

SIPA also said the police would continue the on-site investigation.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been faced with an increased influx of illegal migrants since the beginning of the year,. Most of them are trying to continue their journey to Croatia via Una-Sana Canton, but some also try to get there across the Sava River.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnian-police-discover-two-illegal-camps-of-armed-migrants/

Germany provided € 6.5 million for Bosnia’s Armed Forces

December 7, 2023

German Defence Attaché Lt. Col. Franz-Josef Nolte signed an agreement on the allocation of over € 1.35 million with the Deputy Minister of Defence of BiH, Slaven Galic, and the Acting Resident Representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sylvain Merlen, on Wednesday.

The German Defence Ministry will provide the said funds to completely restore the central weapons storage of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina “Teufik Buza” in Visoko. This is to ensure that light and heavy weapons can be safely stored there in the future.

UNDP will implement and realize this project on behalf of the BiH Defence Ministry.

This year, the German Defence Ministry allocated a total of € 6.5 million to the BiH Armed Forces. Of this, almost € 5 million will be used to rebuild barracks and other infrastructure in the country to improve the living and working conditions of Bosnian soldiers.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/germany-provided-e-6-5-million-for-bosnias-armed-forces/

Serbia’s top security agency gets new chief

December 7, 2023

Belgrade media reported on Thursday that Serbia’s top civilian security agency got a new chief.

Danas and Vecernje Novosti daily quoted unnamed security services sources who said high-ranking police officer Tomislav Radovanovic had been named acting Director of the Security Information Agency (BIA).

Radovanovic headed the Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) Special Investigation Methods Service and spent some time at the Serbian Embassy in Paris as police attache. He came to the BIA to head the agency’s technical department, Vecernje Novosti said. Radovanovic also served as chief of the Belgrade police SWAT unit. He is known to the public as the police officer who spoke out about the surveillance over President Aleksandar Vucic. He has been awarded a national medal for courage and an award by the Serbian Police Union.

Radovanovic replaces Aleksandar Vulin, a close associate of President Aleksandar Vucic, who was blacklisted by the US Treasury Department recently. Vulin is also known to have close ties to Moscow.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbia-s-top-security-agency-gets-new-chief/

Bosnian Border Police prevents migrant smuggling in country's northwest

December 6, 2023

Bosnian Border Police Unit in the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa prevented on Tuesday the smuggling of 12 foreign nationals in the border zone of this municipality, according to the Border Police press release.

The smuggling attempt was discovered during the surveillance of the state border in the village of Smrekovac and the inspection of a Skoda vehicle with the Bosnian license plates. The vehicle was driven by R.S. (1952), a Bosnian national, the Border Police said on Wednesday.

Foreign citizens did not possess identification documents, and during the interrogation they said they came from the Republic of Turkey.

Due to the well-founded suspicion that a criminal offense of the smuggling of people had been committed, the prosecutor on duty was informed about the incident. At the prosecutor's order, R.S. was interrogated as a suspect and he will be subject to a report on the crime of the people smuggling before the competent prosecutor's office.

The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs of BiH was also informed about the incident.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnian-border-police-prevents-migrant-smuggling-in-countrys-northwest/

Bosnian national arrested on charges of helping Russian businessman escape from house arrest in Italy

December 5, 2023

Two of five accomplices, Sarajevo-born Vladimir Jovancic and his son Boris, who allegedly helped Russian businessman Artem Uss escape from house arrest in Italy in March, were arrested on Tuesday, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Boris Jovancic was detained in Desenzano near Brescia, while his father Vladimir was arrested in Croatia.

A Volvo V60, which was one of the cars that Artem Uss used to escape from Italy, was registered as Boris Jovancic's property.

Uss, the 40-year-old son of a Siberian governor and an oil magnate close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, broke his ankle while under house arrest in Basiglio, near Milan, and fled to Russia after a Milan court approved his extradition to the US, where he is wanted on multiple charges.

Reportedly, he used an international network of contacts, including a Serbian criminal group, to escape. Uss was arrested in Italy at the request of the United States of America on October 17, 2022 and transferred to prison before a three-member panel of the Milan court approved his request to be transferred to house arrest.

The US Embassy in Rome reportedly asked the Italian authorities to review the situation due to the risk of flight, but the Ministry of Justice replied that this matter falls under the jurisdiction of the courts.

The affair caused friction between the ministry and the judiciary and led Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to say that the government would clear up the “anomalies”. The investigation into the escape is ongoing.

US authorities on Vladimir Jovancic

The US Department of Justice said on its official website that the Bosnia national citizen Vladimir Jovancic allegedly helped Artem Uss escape from Italy.

“A two-count indictment was unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Vladimir Jovancic, a Bosnian national, with obstructing justice and assisting escape for his role in helping Artem Uss flee from Italy to Russia following an Italian court ruling that Uss would be extradited to the United States. Uss had previously been charged in United States v. Orekhov et al. with heading a global scheme to smuggle millions of dollars in sensitive military and dual-use technologies and oil from Venezuela to sanctioned Russian oligarchs and companies. Jovancic was arrested yesterday in the Republic of Croatia and will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a future date,” said the press release.

Vladimir Jovancic was born 52 years ago in Sarajevo, and his son Boris was born in Italy.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnian-national-arrested-on-charges-of-helping-russian-businessman-escape-from-house-arrest-in-italy/

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