Photo: Predrag Trokicic
Photo: Predrag Trokicic

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, the Ministry of the Interior proved us wrong by treating us to a surreal Instagram post that read, among other things: “There is no place on the streets for arrogant, rude and violent drivers.” Along with this text, they posted a picture of Parking Service employees impounding a 200,000 euro Lamborghini, which was driven wildly through the streets of Belgrade a few days earlier by a 25-year-old man who, believe it or not, happens to be the problematic son of the problematic best man of the president of this unfortunate country.

This incident happened only twenty days after the president’s other troubled best man crashed his 500,000 euro McLaren into a fence in Uzicka Street in Dedinje, injuring two people. We learned almost nothing about this incident, including if the best man, Nikola, tested positive for alcohol or some psychoactive substance. Only yesterday, we found out that the criminal report which was allegedly filed was lost somewhere by the police, meaning that they haven’t submitted the accident documentation to the prosecutor’s office.

Several things stand out when it comes to this event which made the public in Serbia question how safe it is to move through the streets of our cities, bearing in mind the permanent danger that any of us could at any point be run over by a friend, best man, or brother driving a car worth a couple hundred thousand euros.

First, there should certainly be no place for arrogant, rude and violent drivers on the streets, as stated by the police, but the problem here is that the arrogant, rude and violent driver was not removed from the street and detained for his rampage. Instead, his car was! So, the arrogant, rude and violent driver could easily get into another expensive car and continue to roam the streets of Belgrade without hindrance, according to his own admission – without a license, daring the police on his social media to arrest him. And fortunately for him – it seems that they don’t dare to do it.

Furthermore, to make matters worse, this is not the first serious traffic violation that he has committed. In August of last year in Budva, around 4:00 a.m., young Pana was driving in the wrong lane in the city center, for which the Montenegrin police, who apparently did not know who they were dealing with, although I believe he warned them, fined him 300 euros. It seems, however, that this punishment did not teach him anything. He came back faster, better, and stronger and continued his rampage on the streets of Belgrade. If the media reports are to be believed, in his 25 years he managed to collect 84 traffic violations (?!?), which probably makes him the record holder in this category.

In our country it is important who you know, who your friends (and godfathers) are. We all know that. However, enough is enough. Ten years ago, the son of Zeljko Mitrovic was sentenced to only 12 months of house arrest, for killing pedestrian Andrea Bojanic at a crosswalk in Ustanicka Street, recklessly driving a 100,000 euro BMW. Although parallels of this kind are distasteful to say the least, it is possible that young Pana saw this and thought that there is no problem or misdeed that cannot be amortized and solved, if you only know the right people. That’s why Pana is inviting the police to arrest him if they dare on social media. He could also call out the prosecutor’s office, the situation is similar there: “Bring charges against me, if you dare.” And even if an indictment is filed, the case can always be assigned to a friendly judge who will be understanding towards a young, hot head.

But the key question and the point of the story is about the message this sends to the citizens of this country. To those who do not have godfathers and friends in high positions, nor cars worth 200 or 500 thousand euros, and who raise their children in the spirit of generally accepted societal values and norms.

For starters, impounding a car and losing the report insults the intelligence of the citizenry. They are angry because the moral sediment of this society has been driving them crazy for a decade trying to explain the inexplicable. For example, how does the confiscation of a car solve the problem of an arrogant driver, and why does it take 20 days for the criminal report from the police to be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office?

They are angry because it seems to them that they cannot change anything. The mantra seems to be: “Look away and mind your own business.”. And that’s how we’ve been letting all the friends, brothers, and godsons run rampant for years. And they spread like water, taking up more and more space and pushing the limits of what is acceptable.

Finally, even those who wish to oppose it see that the institutions will not protect them or the public interest. The police are happy to arrest the participants of the protest against the drilling of the embankment and illegal construction on Sodros, but not the obscure best men and godsons. The prosecution attacks the prosecutors who dare to arrest the corrupt EPS managers, not those managers. Everything is messed up here. Because friends, brothers and godsons are sacred and can’t be touched, no matter what they do. And ordinary citizens – it’s wiser to look away and mind your own business.

The author is a lawyer and president of the Managing board of the Regulatory institute for renewable energy and environment (RERI).

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 04.04.2023.