The famous and pretty much controversial businessman Stanko Subotic, the legendary Cane, claims that the former Minister of Police Dusan Mihajlovic extorted money from him – the sum in question being several hundred thousand Euros. In a hastily issued statement, the former Minister, of course, refuted these allegations; however, the scenario is very simple: in the general atmosphere of duplicity, levels have been intermingled, positions have been shuffled like playing cards, and the scenario gathered together the former First Baton of Law and the famous businessman, as well as the Bishop of Sabac and Valjevo Lavrentije.
It is well known – and Mihajlovic claims this in his memoirs – that, for years, the Church and state bodies “shared a common task”. How much of this can actually be proven, is the matter of a possible investigation, but for now, let us mention one commentator who wittingly observes “I am inclined to believe both of them”. This is correct, although proof is yet to be found, but the point of this writing lies in something else – personally, we tend to distrust both of them. There was so much duplicity that no one can be sure anymore who in this story laundered money, and who dirtied it. One should immediately give a clear answer to the abovementioned questions which are not rhetorical: no one will try to prove this here, that is, everyone will try to keep it in the mist, because this seems to be the general method of the economic and social life in Serbia.
The Bishop of Sabac and Valjevo Lavrentije, a proverbially cautious man, found himself in this “story” in a way not too surprising for people who remember those times. He had the opportunity to bear witness to these talks and negotiations, and allegedly, the sum in question was supposed to be used for constructing a church in Ub. This comes as no surprise, as this is not the only church built by sinners and penitents with dirty money and churches are monuments built by sinners and penitents, and there’s not too much to wonder. The problem here is that, although the need to wash off the sin is normal, penitence should be public and honestly offered in order to have any value in the Church.
This typically Serbian story has its very interesting history. The former Minister of Police wrote two hefty volumes of memoirs and published them in Belgrade in 2005, under the title “Mists and vistas of Povlen”. Late in the autumn, when wisps of mist cover the vistas all over Semberija, the vistas are lost, and some vistas which would point to the aforementioned episode in Mihajlovic’s memoirs remain in the mist. Everyone here cares for the mist, because, if the matter is solved and it becomes clear who is right and who is lying, this would not suit anyone – to remain in the mist is the most comfortable solution. In the above-mentioned memoirs of the former Minister of Police, we can find something valuable about the times that are behind us.
Back in 1989, at the time Yugoslavia was coming apart at its ethnical and religious seams, somewhere in February, a Valjevo local paper “Napred” reported some interesting news. The then president of the Valjevo Municipal Assembly, Dusan Mihajlovic, a prominent party member, was the first to propose the creation of the Socials Alliance of Working People (SSRN) Calendar, with new symbols and dates. He pushed for assigning Saint Sava a special day in that Calendar – the 27th of January. In fact, there was nothing unusual about this initiative – SSRN was envisaged as a non-party organization gathering together all citizens and creating some kind of a value chart based on a pluralist principle. However, this initiative did not pan out, Saint Sava remained in the Church Calendar, and the SSRN Calendar wasn’t even created. This sign of “the way of St. Sava” was the first signal of an entire series of manipulations which started to bring together businessmen, politicians and Church dignitaries.
What is important in this story from the current perspective is the general atmosphere of duplicity, in which mafia won its place in the state.
Bishop Lavrentije is remaining silent, or, as the colloquial journalist lingo would put it – he is not answering his phone, and it is highly probable that if he talked, some facts could become clear, among them the following. Firstly, the problem is not the fact that the money was allegedly taken from a controversial businessman – the history of the Church is filled with examples where sinners who laundered money tried to launder themselves as well. Secondly, it would be good if Bishop Lavrentije spoke, because only then, on the basis of a statement made by a reliable witness, we would find out what this matter was about. The baseline of this scenario most probably lies in the following: no one will even look for the evidence, since searching could point out to many other leads. And everything will remain in the mist, where everyone feels much better.
Notes from the province
Translated by Bojana Obradović