Afer abolishing the firefighters, the mayor of Vlasenica came up with the idea of building an incinerator within the premises of a former factory, of which he, apparently, is the director or co-owner with a Russian citizen of Chechen origin. However, the former partnership has turned into a scandal.
Written by: Edin SKOKIĆ/Interview
The mayor of Vlasenica, Miroslav Kraljević, jokingly referred to as the “owner of the city”, has managed to have a falling out even with the Russians, which is a rare feat in Republika Srpska.
Kraljević, who is being tried for heinous war crimes against Bosniaks in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is known not only to the residents of Vlasenica but also to a wider audience for his unlawful actions that he carries out without any problems.
We recently reported on how Kraljević disbanded the Fire Department because they “refused to obey”, meaning some firefighters did not want to participate in rallies organized by his party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
Only after disbanding the Fire Department did Kraljević come up with a new idea. He proposed opening a plastic incineration facility within the premises of the former “Finali” factory, now known as “Ecoplast”. According to available documentation, he appears to be the director or co-owner of the facility, along with Aslanbek Rostakhanov, a Russian citizen of Chechen origin.
Before the falling out between Kraljević and Rostakhanov, a civil uprising occurred in Vlasenica for the first time in post-war history. More than 2,000 citizens signed a petition against the opening of the incineration facility. However, Branislav Petković, who is considered Kraljević’s follower in Vlasenica, refused to register the petition in the municipal administration.
– Petković committed a criminal offence by doing so, but he did not prevent us from organizing protests. We held protests despite being labelled as having partisan affiliations, being in partnership with associations from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and many other accusations – said Siniša Purtić, a member of an informal group of environmental activists from Vlasenica.
When activists from the “Carton Revolution” in Tuzla joined the story of environmental protection, not only in Vlasenica but also in the broader regional area, it served as a signal for Kraljević and the Vlasenica branch of the SNSD to once again play the card of inflaming national tensions.
They quickly issued a statement in which a group of citizens allegedly demanded a reduction in the volume of the call to prayer (azan) from the Hajrija Mosque in the city.
After the failed attempt to escalate national tensions, Kraljević labelled the petition signatories based on their political affiliations, and the local branch of the SNSD qualified them as traitors.
However, the civil uprising was not deterred, and the citizens of Vlasenica raised their voices for the first time after the war, expressing their opposition to Kraljević’s dictatorship.
Protests were organized on April 15th, and the citizens conveyed their message that they do not want a plastic incinerator near their homes, as the chimneys of residential buildings are only a hundred meters away.
Kraljević disregarded the citizens’ uprising and blamed opposition parties and associations from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for allegedly desecrating the preparations for the major Orthodox holiday of Easter on April 16th.
Request to the Ministry
Soon after, the company “Ecoplast” submitted a request to the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction, and Ecology of Republika Srpska for the opening of the plastic incineration facility in Vlasenica.
The informal group of environmental activists claims that Kraljević received a rejection, which was the trigger for the dispute with the Russian partners that would follow and have a movie-like scenario.
Kraljević and his associates have calculated that the loss due to the non-opening of the plastic incineration facility on time is around 1.5 million KM.
We tried to verify these claims with Miroslav Kraljević, but he did not respond to the emails sent to him.
We were unable to verify whether Kraljević filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction, and Ecology for compensation in the mentioned amount.
In any case, the plastic would be imported from Poland and incinerated in “Ecoplast” Vlasenica, at a rate of approximately 280 tons per day. The business plan was obviously developed earlier, but Kraljević did not anticipate the resistance from the citizens and the rejection from the relevant ministry because all his initiatives at the republic level were successful due to his membership in the SNSD.
Conflict with the Partner
While weaving his web within the relevant ministry and disregarding citizen protests, Kraljević entered into a conflict with his Russian partner.
According to the claims of Natalija Stanisavljević, a Russian citizen and legal representative of the company “MS Milošević,” which has facilities within the “Ecoplast” complex, Miroslav Kraljević allegedly threatened her and demanded that she notarise her resignation.
She asserted that Kraljević told her that she would have problems, considering her family and that she should think about them.
Ozrenka Jakšić, the lawyer representing Natalija Stanisavljević, stated that she sent a letter to the District Prosecutor’s Office in East Sarajevo, providing all the relevant details regarding the case from Vlasenica.
The co-owners of the company led by Natalija Stanisavljević are two Russian citizens, and according to lawyer Jakšić, she was informed of her dismissal, but she did not receive any decision or official notice of her removal from duty. The handover should be conducted according to the law…
“They were detained in the detention facilities until I arrived. Witnesses are not kept in detention facilities. They have no complaints about the behaviour of the police, but it is unclear who issued the order, who determined their detention, and why. We couldn’t find out if an authorized person reported them because there had to be something concrete, some suspicion of committing a criminal offence, for them to be detained. But if there is no suspicion of committing a criminal offence, you cannot detain anyone”, the lawyer says.
She notes that everything can become even more complicated.
“This could turn into a diplomatic scandal; they called the Russian embassies in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They received legal assistance, and I was also engaged. Natalija Stanisavljević reported the threats she received to the police, who interrogated her. She told them that she was invited to a meeting with Kraljević and that she felt threatened during the conversation”, Jakšić stated.
She added that they are now awaiting a response from the Istocno Sarajevo District Prosecutor’s Office.
What will happen to the incinerator?
According to lawyer Jakšić’s claim, Natalija Stanisavljević has no connection to the company “Ecoplast”, whose founders are Kraljević and Rostakhanov.
However, the “MS Milošević” company within the complex where the incinerator is planned has a hall, which is presumed to be the reason for Kraljević’s threats and blackmail.
Members of the informal group of environmental activists emphasize that the incinerator project in Vlasenica is likely to be abandoned because Kraljević has angered Rostakhanov, who cannot forgive him for being stopped and arrested by the police.
After being released from custody, Rostakhanov left Bosnia and Herzegovina and is reportedly in Serbia, and the environmental activists have received information that he no longer wants to collaborate with Kraljević.
The whole story raises the question of why Milorad Dodik and the SNSD are silent, as at the time of the arrest of the Russian citizens in the Zvornik Police Station, the President of RS was attending a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Russia.
It is allegedly known that Putin was informed about the arrest through diplomatic channels, but Dodik has not commented on it.
“We don’t know who has the upper hand, so to speak. Whether there are hidden secrets in the cameras at the ‘Igrišta’ Sports and Recreation Center near Vlasenica or the abduction of a councillor 15 years ago in Osmaci near Kalesija. After everything, we believe that there will be no incinerator in Vlasenica, and as for the conflict between Kraljević and the Russians, we will only find out in due time”, said the members of the informal group of environmental activists from Vlasenica.