The story of Aleksandar Obradovikj began in 2014. As a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, he was appointed general manager of the factory in Krushik, near Valjevo, Serbia. The new director soon clashed with the staff when he saw what was going on inside. He began to collect examples of bad management.
A year later, in an investigation, colleagues from the Balkan Investigative Reporters Network (BIRN) reported that Branko Stefanovikj, father of Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovikj, had brokered a deal for the Krushik factory to sell weapons to a Saudi Arabian company. In the text, documents were published that showed that Stefanovikj had secured weapons from the factory.
Other reports revealed that Krushik allegedly manipulated sales invoices to hide its preferential treatment of Stefanovikj’s firm. The documents also state that the ammunition it sold ended up with ISIS fighters in Yemen.
Soon after, it was announced that Obradovikj was the source of the published documents. Due to media and public pressure, he was released from prison, and transferred to house arrest for more than two months. He says he has been suspended from work on a quarter of his pay and remains under investigation by authorities.
Obradovikj’s case has divided opinion in Serbia. Pro-government media claimed he was seeking revenge after his mother had been fired from the factory, but many see him as a defender of the public interest and have protested his mistreatment.
Although no charges have yet been filed against him, Obradovikj says his world has been turned upside down.
“I’m still an ordinary person with my virtues and faults, who lives under stress and tension, who wants to protect his family and live as normally as possible under the circumstances”, he told the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), where many investigative journalists are members.
We are aware of where we live and that under this regime anyone who thinks differently only encounters pressure, degradation and blackmail, Obradovikj added.