Who is Milan Radoicic: The ‘Shadow Power’ of Kosovo Serbs

Though he rarely steps into the limelight or engages with the media, Milan Radoicic wields immense influence among the local Serb population in Kosovo. His name has frequently surfaced in connection with evasion from legal authorities, and more recently, suspicions of involvement in a terrorist attack against the Kosovo Police in the North of Kosovo. But who exactly is Milan Radoicic, a man finding himself on the “black list” of the United States?

Presently believed to be in Belgrade, recovering from alleged injuries sustained during the September 24 terrorist attack on the Kosovo Police in Banjska, Zvecan, Milan Radoicic holds the position of vice-president in the Serbian List party.

Kosovar Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla on Tuesday posted a video on social networks that he said clearly showed Milan Radoicic organizing and participating in the monastery attack.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday that Radoicic is in Serbia and will face questions about his alleged role in violence in the north of Kosovo on Sunday.

“Milan Radoicic has never hid. He will respond to the summons of the authorities of the Republic of Serbia. He is a man who considers himself a freedom fighter. But there are things and questions that he will have to answer,” Vucic told Serbian public broadcaster RTS.

But, Radoicic receives strong backing from Belgrade, and the chances of him facing a trial in Serbia are minimal. According to PM Kurti, during a meeting in Brussels on May 2, Aleksandar Vucic remarked that “Milan Radoicic will become the Adem Jashari of Serbs.” Adem Jashari was one of the founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army and was killed by Serbian forces in 1998. This event sparked outrage among Kosovo Albanians and is viewed as a turning point that led to widespread armed resistance against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s oppressive regime.

For several years now, Radoicic has earned the moniker of the “boss of the north,” solidifying his status as the most influential figure within the local Serb community inhabiting the four northern municipalities of Kosovo: North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan.

Radoicic has been a fugitive from Kosovo’s justice system for quite some time, successfully eluding capture on multiple occasions. His most recent escape occurred in February 2022 at the Bernjak border point in northern Kosovo. Notably, this escape unfolded during the tenure of the Kurti Government, resulting in the temporary suspension and subsequent reinstatement of several border patrol officers.

The shadow of suspicion also looms over Radoicic in connection with the “Brezovica” case, where allegations of witness tampering have been raised.

In 2018, the murder of Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovic in North Mitrovica prompted investigations by Kosovo’s law enforcement agencies, which led them to trace links to Milan Radoicic in the assassination. Consequently, a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Special Prosecution. However, this arrest warrant was later revoked by prosecuting authorities in early 2021.

Shortly after the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo sought the removal of the arrest warrant against Milan Radoicic, he was observed entering Kosovo’s territory. According to BIRN, on March 9, 2021, Radoicic crossed the border at the Bernjak checkpoint.

Radoicic is widely perceived to maintain close ties with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, frequently participating in official meetings in Belgrade. His name features prominently among the Kosovo Serbs targeted by sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department and the United Kingdom.

But, he met with Kosovo politicians as well. In 2018, Radoicic held meetings with Kosovo’s former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, in the prime minister’s office and aboard a yacht in Budva, where he met with the chairman of AKR and former President of Kosovo, Behgjet Pacolli.

Radoicic and His Business Connections

Milan Radoicic is the right-hand man of Zvonko Veselinovic, a Serbian businessman operating in northern Kosovo. Serbian police and intelligence reports, acquired by “KRIK,” have identified Veselinovic as a prominent figure in organized crime. These reports allege that Veselinovic’s group was engaged in various illegal activities, including drug and weapons trafficking, as well as oil smuggling in northern Kosovo. Radoicic’s role within this criminal network included acting as a courier, transporting drug shipments from Albanian drug lords to Serbia.

Investigative journalism has uncovered that in recent years, Radoicic has invested in shares of prominent companies, one of which operates in the field of road construction.

Additional investigations have linked Radoicic to individuals within Kosovo. Notably, the “RAD” company, owned by Radulle Stevic, who was recently placed on the United States’ “black list” alongside Milan Radoicic, had entered into contracts with a company owned by a member of the Albanian community, known as “N.N.T A.B.C” with owner Arben Jetullah. This partnership involved numerous major projects in the four municipalities with Serbian majority populations.

In October 2019, “KRIK” published a photograph depicting a meeting that included Behgjet Pacolli, the chairman of AKR and former president of Kosovo, along with Millan Radoicic, Goran Rakic, and others.

According to “KRIK,” this meeting between Pacolli and Radoicic occurred in the summer of 2017, during the period when AKR shifted its political allegiance from LDK to join a coalition government with PDK, AAK, and Nisma, under Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

However, Behgjet Pacolli has publicly stated that he does not know Millan Radoicic and had never heard of his name before. He explained that Goran Rakic, the leader of the Serbian List, had invited him for a drink on Rakic’s yacht, where he was unexpectedly joined by another individual, whom no one introduced as Milan Radoicic. Pacolli further clarified that this meeting lasted a mere 10 minutes and was not initiated by him.

A Kosovar PM Meeting a Suspected Criminal 

Back on July 12, 2018, during his tenure as Kosovo’s prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj held a meeting in his office with Goran Rakic, the mayor of the Municipality of Mitrovica, together with Milan Radoicic, the vice-president of the Serbian List.

Official statements about the meeting were quite limited, with only a few details disclosed, noting that their discussion primarily revolved around the overall situation in Kosovo, with a particular focus on aspects related to security, economic development, and social progress.

Critics raised concerns about Haradinaj’s decision to meet with someone like Milan Radoicic.

Radoicic’s name had previously come up in connection with the late Serbian politician, Oliver Ivanovic, who tragically lost his life in January 2018. In Ivanovic’s final interview with BIRN, he highlighted Radoicic as a pivotal figure and the true powerbroker in northern Kosovo.

Ivanovic explicitly stated, “The epicenter of power is not within the municipal building because the municipality building answers to this other informal center of power,” referring to Radoicic.

Following Ivanovic’s tragic death, another prominent Kosovo Serb politician, Rada Trajkovic, asserted that Radoicic essentially “exercises significant control” over life in the Serb-administered northern regions of Kosovo.

The Mysterious Withdrawal of Radoicic’s Arrest Warrant

In July 2019, over a year following Oliver Ivanovic’s tragic murder, an arrest warrant was issued for Milan Radoicic.

Former special prosecutor Sylë Hoxha confirmed to BIRN that, upon the Prosecution’s request, the Court of Prishtina had issued this warrant for Millan Radoicic, a suspect in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder.

However, at the beginning of 2021, during Avdullah Hoti’s government leadership, Kosovo’s Special Prosecutor’s Office surprisingly requested the withdrawal of the arrest warrant against one of the individuals sought in connection with the former Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovic’s killing.

Judge Valon Kurtaj confirmed this development to BIRN, stating, “PRSK [Special Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kosovo] made a request to withdraw the document, and the court, in compliance with their request, withdrew the document.”

Burim Çerkini, the prosecutor who took over the case after former prosecutor Sylë Hoxha retired, declined to provide details when questioned by BIRN regarding why the arrest warrant for Milan Radoicic was withdrawn. He cited confidentiality and refrained from commenting on the matter.

Remarkably, shortly after the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo made the request to lift the arrest warrant against Milan Radoicic, he was spotted entering Kosovo’s territory. According to BIRN’s findings, on March 9, 2021, Milan Radoicic crossed the border at the Bernjak checkpoint.

The indictment in this case, initially filed at the beginning of 2019, has seen several amendments but has yet to yield a verdict. The first modification occurred on December 30, 2019, followed by another at the outset of November 2020.

In November 2018, Kosovo Police conducted an operation north of Mitrovica, resulting in the arrest of multiple individuals, including a police senior officer, a member of Oliver Ivanovic’s office, and two others. While Milan Radoicic’s residence was searched, he was not found at home. BIRN’s sources indicate that Kosovo Police carried out raids at various locations in northern Mitrovica, detaining four individuals on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the former Serbian politician, Oliver Ivanovic.

Kosovo Serbs on U.S. Sanctions List

In 2021 the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a series of sanctions targeting prominent Kosovo Serbs allegedly involved in organized crime activities. 

Besides Radoicic, the list includes Zvonko Veselinovic and his brother Zharko, who, according to Reuters, are accused by the U.S. Treasury Department of striking deals with politicians to help their parties win elections and providing money to candidates. In exchange, politicians have reportedly given the Veselinovic brothers favorable infrastructure contracts, property information to support their investments, and control over specific areas of their business, as stated by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Another figure on the list is Zeljko Bojic, former chief of Operations for the Kosovo Police in the North, who was also suspected of involvement in Ivanovic’s murder and is wanted by Kosovo institutions. Marko Rosic, accused in the case of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, is also on the list.

Radulle Stevic, a Serbian entrepreneur from the north is also on the list. He is known for winning numerous tenders from Kosovo institutions for various infrastructure projects in northern Kosovo.

The list also includes several companies from Serbia and Kosovo, which are connected to some of the aforementioned individuals. Many of these companies have ties to Zvonko Veselinovic, such as “Dolly Bell” from Belgrade, the vehicle sales company “Civija Komerc” from Sabac, the construction company “INCOP” from Cuprija, the concrete company “Aleksinac,” the independent store “Prizma” from Mitrovica, and others.

The list also features “Doo Rad,” Radulle Stevic’s company in Zvecan, as well as several companies associated with Milan Radisavljevic and Sinisa Nedelkovic.

The sanctions were welcomed by PM Kurti’s government. 

Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu had hailed the inclusion of the organized crime group in the north, led by Zvonko Veselinovic and Milan Radoicic, on the U.S. sanctions list as exceptionally positive news. Haxhiu stated that members of this group have received support not only from Belgrade but also from Prishtina.

Blerta Begisholli contributed to the editing process and Bubulina Peni contributed to the translation of the article from Albanian to English.  

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