SUN, 02 NOV 1997 16:15:50 GMT
The number of murders around the most powerful and best known Serb family Milosevic-Markovic is increasing. One by one, three close family friends have been killed in the course of this year: Vlado Kovacevic alias Tref (Clubs), Radovan Stojicic alias Badza (Hector), and Zoran Todorovic alias Kundak (Butt). Cynics are speculating about who will be next.
AIM Belgrade, 28 October, 1997
The murder of secretary general of the Yugoslav Left (JUL), director general of Beopetrol, co-owner of the privately-owned T&M Trade company and one of the richest men in Serbia - Zoran Todorovic alias Kundak (38) - surprised Belgrade. The manner in which he was liquidated, however, surprised noone. It was a typical ambush which has for years been a trademark of showdowns in the local underground and "above" the ground: "a team and professionally prepared ambush in which the victim has no chance to survive, and the murderer to miss and not get away" (Dr Vladan Vasilijevic).
On 24 October, as usual, in his company car, Todorovic arrived to work about 8 o'clock in the morning. While the driver was parking the limousine, he started up the stairs towards the entrance of the Beopetrol building. Here he met an acquiaintance, Sinisa Milenkovic, driver of NIS refinery, and stopped. While they were shaking hands, a young man in a grey jacket and a black woollen cap approached, pulled out a "Scorpio" gun, and from immediate vicinity, he shot at least four bullets at Todorovoc's head. Milenkovic was seriously wounded: the murderer shot at him as well, because he was blocking his way of escape. He then literally jumped over his victims, ran by the entrance to Beopetrol and vanished in the nearby housing block of buildings where his helpers were waiting for him in a car.
TEARS AND COFFIN
Murder of Todorovic is the last severe blow that struck the president of FR Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic and his family. First, almost in the identical manner, a business partner and close friend of the president's son Marko, Vlado Kovacevic alias Tref, was killed. Then, at the restaurant called Mamma Mia, in the style of a mafia showdown of the thirties in New York, one of the closest Milosevic's associates was liquidated: deputy minister of internal affairs and head of the public security service, police general, Radovan Stojicic alias Badza. Finally, Todorovic was not only among the leading personages of JUL, but also the best friend of the President's wife, Mirjana Markovic. He belonged to the team of "technicians" who ten years ago participated in preparations of Milosevic's rise at the legendary eighth session of the central committee of the league of communists of Serbia.
If murder of Tref was assessed as shooting in front of Milosevic's home, the murder of Badza as a burst in front of his feet, then the murder of Kundak is a bomb in the living-room of family Milosevic. Contrary to other Serbian magnates, Todorovic felt in that living-room like in his own. It is claimed that it was based on his assessments and evaluations that the couple Milosevic formed their relation towards the reality. It is also claimed that he has directly inspired some of the most rigid moves of this married couple, such as the three-month long refusal to recognize local election results in Serbia in November 1997.
Almost the entire Serbian political leadership appeared at Todorovic's funeral. Milosevic could not keep tears back. Kundak's death is in fact the last nail in the coffin of the eighth session: almost all most prominent persons with whom Milosevic had set out on his big adventure have gradually fallen away - only dubious careerists of even more dubious capabilities have been left. Nothing of all that was proclaimed has come true. Rallies of Momir Bulatovic in Montengro who is refusing to admit that he has lost the elections are just a faint reflection of what used to be the "anti-bureaucratic revolution"; Milosevic will obviously, in the foreseeable future, be forced to give to the Kosovo Albanians much more than ten years ago; the standard of living in Serbia is equal to that in the third world; national policy which was the star that had guided them to the war experienced complete debacle both in Croatia and in Bosnia; the Socialist Party of Serbia is visibly splitting, and it is gradually replaced by the ultra-rightist Serb Radical Party (SRS) headed by Dr Vojislav Seselj... There are cynics who, therefore, interpreted the tears of the President of FR Yugoslavia shed over this grave as tears shed for himself.
COMMITTEE MEMBER AND BUSINESSMAN
Kundak began his political career in 1986 when, as a secretary of the (communist) party organization at the Faculty of Political Sciences, he met the candidate for president of the city committee of Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic. Very soon after he also met Dr Mirjana Markovic: he was the secretary of the University conference of the communist party, and she was its ideologist. Within this very party body, the core which paved the road for Milosevic's triumph at the eighth session was created. Then and later, Kundak was the merciless cudgel for removing all the real and potential Milosevic's opponents. He especially distinguished himself in the so-called working groups which established political (party) responsibility; rumour goes that he sacked a University assistant professor accusing his of being an agent of the Red Brigades. He reached the top in 1990 as president of the city committee of the socialist alliance of the working people. That same year he was degraded. He simply expressed too much ambition to be a leader and what is even more important, he did not grasp the spirit of the time. On the eve of the first multiparty elections in Serbia, he wished to transform the socialist alliance into a party of the "left centre" disregarding the fact that Milosevic was interested only in the property of this former "socio-political organization". He was attacked from many sides - by combatants, youth, trade unions. Without wishing to wait to be discharged, Todorovic submitted resignation and withdrew from the post.
That is how his business career started. As a member of the central committee without a day of experience in the economy, he became deputy of director general of Jugopetrol. After a couple of years he became independent. First he was commercial director in ATL company, and then together with Branislav Markicevic (brother of the current Serbian minister of justice) he founded T&M Trade company. Since mid summer this year, Todorovic was also director general of Beopetrol.
It is difficult to even list everything he dealt with: oil, polyester textiles from South Korea, silk from China, copper from Bor to China, business premises, agriculture (he rented 3500 hectares of Zikica Jovanovic complex in Banat), banking and what not. The main characteristic of the entire Todorovic's business is that it was founded on unlimited use of political connections (primarily with the couple Milosevic-Markovic). Therefore, the most favourable loans, various state funds, imported quotas of highly profitable commodities, information of bankrupt enterprises which could be bought for trifles, etc.
In short, during his seven-year business career, it is claimed, Kundak has become one of the richest people in Serbia. Two years ago he came back to high policy (if he had ever really left it) having become secretary general of JUL.
With his rises and falls, the way of live, Kundak is the best illustration of Milosevic's Serbia. First, as a party "iron hand" and early fighter of "differentiation and anti-buraucratic revolution" he paved the road to destruction of almost all institutions in Serbia. Then, as a businessman, in such circumstances, he gained wealth with no limitations and end. Everything he did was in a way extraordinary, special and behind the screen: the main and true showdowns in the end of the eighties have not happened at official sessions; about real business deals and profits, here and now, nothing can be learnt from documents and balance sheets.
In the end, everything in Serbia has become extraordinary and special, for the need of the moment and in service of the regime which had led to it. For people like Kundak there were no limitations if they were loyal to the ruling family. That is why there is no efficient arbitration for resolution of conflicts between them. While business they were dealing with were expanding, disagreements were somehow resolved by compromise, so that only "ordinary soldiers" from the bottom of the pyramid of the political and economic power were victims, that is, men with large criminal dossiers. Teams od paid murderers, it seems, have become a completely legitimate means for squaring accounts in large business deals and elimination of competition. This is quite understandable: when all normal and regular channels were closed, when everything was subordinated to an oligarchy which was above the law itself, then it is the only logical sequence of developments. The police should not be accused for this. In the past ten years, it was organized in such a way as to enable and protect these developments. The murder of general Badza shows best where this has led it.
In their statements, JUL and SPS assessed Kundak's murder as a political assassination in which Serbia and FR Yugoslavia were shot at. In a way they are right: the system of the authorities was really shot at, which, petrified in its rigidity, has completely lost efficiency. Those who ordered Kundak's liquidation, however, have no intention to change the system, but in given circumstances to win their place on earth. That is why it is not surprising at all that speculations about who will be the next have already started.