When I decided to explore the Balkans more deeply, I never dreamed that Serbia would capture most of my attention. I always believed that Montenegro could be more interesting because of its access to the sea and its role as Switzerland of the Balkans. However, Serbia has proven otherwise. The connections between politics and business are lived here publicly. This is the stage for interesting stories before the election scheduled for 2020.
The 2020 Election and a controversial boycott
Those who follow political developments know that the elections in Serbia have been scheduled for 2020. It will for sure be a decisive election. Hence, everyone talks about the election. The last 49 protests again spoke of elections but not of opposition participation but of a boycott.
Boycotts are a legitimate means of protest. One can voluntarily and deliberately abstain from interacting with a person, organization or state for the purpose of the protest, or for the achievement of a political, economic or similar purpose.
Over the last 49 protest events, opposition leaders have repeatedly called for a boycott of the elections. At the same time, however, they demand legal elections. Serbian conditions can be very confusing for a foreigner. In democracies, changes can only take place via the system and the institutions. Otherwise, it needs a revolution. And, as you know, the revolution finally eats its children. A dangerous path. The last elections in Ukraine showed that democracy can work.
Who would have thought in 2017 that the comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelensky could win the presidential elections in Ukraine?
The opposition in Serbia, however, is not standing united. They evidently do not share the same goals, ideas or visions. Hence, they are not a very efficient opposition.
Sergey Trifonovic – A mind-changing opposition leader
While the call for the boycott of the elections by different opposition leaders is publicly communicated by mainstream media, shocking news arrived on internet portals – Sergej Trifunović, 47, is a Serbian actor, comedian, singer, politician, and citizen activist, calls on the people to participate in the election.
Personally, I think that boycott supporters only throw the dust into the eyes of Serbs. They are aware that they can’t get enough votes to secure parliament seats. They seem to be doing it all because they know they have no chance of winning the election, which gives them the opportunity to say after the election that the election has been stolen.
That is why I agree with Sergei Trifunovic, who is actually one of the opposition leaders. The fight for the Serbian future has to be fought from within the institutions, he says. Trifunovic was appointed the president of the Free Citizens Movement ( Pokret slobodnih građana – PSG) in January 2019.
Friends and supporters of Sergej Trifunović
Some members of the Serbian opposition say that Sergei changed his mind about the boycott after hanging out with controversial businessman Peter Panic. This guy is known throughout the Balkans as the former bodyguard of convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj, who spent 13 years at The Hague tribunal.
I found it astonishing that a representative of the political establishment officially makes common cause with such people. On the other hand, I also found it typically Serbian. The boundaries between politics, economics, and finance are fluid in Serbia. Kickbacks to achieve economic and political goals are the rule. However, the truth seems to be different.
Sergei Trifunovic runs the “Support a Life” Foundation, which raised money for sick children to be treated abroad. A wonderful and above all humane activity. The foundation was under police investigation for a while because it irritated the Serbian authorities too much. It is believed that they wanted to threaten or intimidate Trifunovic (read more on Balkanist).
In the end, however, it turned out that the foundation was its business properly. Some Serbian media reported, the respective police investigation was terminated after Sergei went to lunch at the Panic restaurant.
That’s not all. In his public speeches, Sergei Trifunovic supports his friend Milorad Ulemek Legia, the main suspect for the assassination of former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. So, he is inclined towards the bad guys.
The Pandora box was opened
Close friends of the actor say that Sergei is a different person from when he is dating young actress Mina Sovtic. Mina is said to be a decent young woman and a very talented actress. For those less versed, she is the daughter of the famous Serbian-German actress and big star Anica Dobra and a businessman and owner of a small football club Polet, Miodrag Sovtic.
What I realized is that Serbs can indeed be very gallant and fearless. Also, they are very protective of their daughters. That is why Miodrag Sovtic sent a message to Sergei that it may be better to keep the relationship with Mina a private affair.
Miodrag Sovtic is a very successful but also controversial businessman. And he is known to protect his interests. Hence, Sergei may be regarded as one of his promising “assets” and allegedly provides advice to him. The rumor goes, that it actually is Sovtic who has an influence on Sergei’s actions and that it was him who also gave this advice to withdraw from the boycott of the election.
Finishing the political puzzle
It takes a lot of money to finance a political party. Serbia is not Hollywood. In Serbia, actors live modestly because they can only earn a little income. It’s a small market, isn’t it? In this respect, actors need the support of sponsors and patrons in order to be able to afford an upscale lifestyle.
And then the question remains – who finances Sergei’s political activism?
Aside from Trifunovic himself admitting that Panic helped him a lot (?!) with his foundation, who else may be find among the supporters of his political group Free Citizens Movement (PSG)?
There are whispers that at some time it was Dragan Djilas, former Mayor of Belgrade and today one of the opposition leaders and main financier. However, Sergei is a free spirit who does not submit to authority, so Dragan Djilas allegedly canceled Sergei’s financing because of his disobedience.
Opportunity connoisseurs say Mina’s dad decided to financially support his future son-in-law. He asked his friend to join his respective support activities because “politics is an expensive toy”.
It may turn out as a promising investment, I must admit. If I were able to, I would always fund the activities of some emerging politician in a moving society like Serbia. Remember the situation in Ukraine? The new president is a former comedian who had the support of local businessmen. If we ask citizens who take part in the protests, only Sergei has a real chance to enter parliament. And when he enters, it will be easy for everyone who has found his way to the stars.
Lastly, I can only congratulate the ambitious actor. He really is a real artist – on many stages evidently!