Serbia’s pro-European Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was moved to a safe location after an arsenal of weapons, including a rocket-launcher, was found close to his house near Belgrade, which a minister said was “preparation for assassination”. Authorities were alerted by passers-by who on Saturday found the cache in chests in a forest near Vucic’s family home in Jajinci, south of Belgrade, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told reporters.
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“There is a rocket launcher, four hand grenades and a large quantity of ammunition for 7.62 mm automatic rifles and 7.9 mm sniper rifles,” said Stefanovic. “What is worrying is that these weapons were discovered only a few dozen metres from a turn into the family home of Prime Minister Vucic,” he said, adding that his retinue would have represented “a very easy target”.
A former associate of late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and once a staunch ultranationalist, Vucic, 46, has since remodelled himself as a pro-EU reformer. Serbia was rocked by the assassination of democratic pro-European prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003.
Labour and veterans minister Aleksandar Vulin demanded that the security and intelligence services “give answers (on) who prepared to assassinate the prime minister”. Deputy prime minister and foreign minister Ivica Dacic called on the authorities to exercise “particular vigilance, keeping in mind the increase in pressure on our country,” without elaborating.
While taking care to keep on the right side of traditional partner Russia, Vucic has built a reputation in the West as a reliable partner, including by engaging in dialogue on the normalisation of relations with the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which proclaimed independence 2008 but was not recognised by Belgrade.