Arms factory whistleblower still under house arrest, while disagreements over his status exist

November 4, 2019

Aleksandar Obradović, a worker at the Krušik weapons factory in Valjevo who revealed alleged corruption in the factory to the media, remains under house arrest, and a heated debate has been continuing in public and among politicians – regarding his status as a whistleblower and whether his revelations suggest corruption – since news of his arrest was revealed in mid-September.

On the basis of documentation obtained from Obradović, media reported that the Krušik factory sold weapons under preferential prices to a company represented by Branko Stefanović, the father of Serbian Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović. This worker was arrested in a spectacular action of the State Security Services on 18th September, but the public only learned about the arrest three weeks later.

Representatives of the authorities, led by President Aleksandar Vučić, state that the affair was falsely constructed and reject the possibility of Obradović being granted whistleblower status. Biljana Ivković, State secretary at the Interior Ministry which Stefanović heads, stated that Obradović isn’t only not a whistleblower, but that he is a spy, because he shared his revelations with foreigners.

Former and current commissioners for information of public importance in Serbia, lawyer Rodoljub Šabić and Milan Marinović, agree that Obradović perhaps doesn’t satisfy the formal requirements for the status of a whistleblower, but note that the content of what he disclosed to journalists is much more important.

A section of opposition politicians, however, consider him a whistleblower and support him publicly, while some independent media outlets are continuing to investigate the arms trade and revealing new insights into the suspicious operations of the Krušik factory, not permitting the entire story to be forgotten. In the meantime, Obradović has been temporarily suspended from work at the factory, while his lawyer, Vladimir Gajić – who says that his client is a “prisoner of the regime” – claims that the prosecutor conducting the investigation doesn’t know what crime he is charging Obradović with.