Before the new year, Jan Škoberne, a deputy of the Social Democrats (SD), and his father Marko Škoberne, a Slovenian tycoon and co-owner of Esotech, attended an event with the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, who has been charged with numerous cases of corruption. Republika Srpska is considered to be a true business paradise for the Slovenian left – it is a frequent destination for Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković, the former agent of UDBA and lobbyist Drago Isajlović, and even the president of Slovenian Sovereign Holding, Damjan Belič.
Yugoslavia might have collapsed, but it has left behind old networks of operatives from UDBA and politicians that have organised themselves anew, seized power and taken charge of businesses. One such politician in Republika Srpska is its current president, Milorad Dodik, who has been involved in the politics of this Bosnian entity for an eternity and is considered to be an example of the government’s links to the underground and to crime.
The story in Slovenia was not much different – after the collapse of DEMOS, old powers again seized power due to a lack of lustration. The same people that are in power in the former republics of Yugoslavia and Slovenia also cooperated through UDBA, and these connections still exist, though they are now only held together by business interests and money.
Social Democrats are cooperating
A few days before the new year, the Facebook page “Srcem za Srpsku” (With Heart for Republika Srpska) published a photograph of Jan Škoberne, a Slovenian deputy from the SD party, and his father Mark Škoberne, a Slovenian tycoon and co-owner of Esotech, at a charity event in the company of the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik. The text next to the photograph said “President Dodik with Slovenian delegation supporting the charity campaign ‘Z ljubeznijo pogumnim srčkom’’ (With Love for Courageous Hearts). Today, you can talk with Jan Škoberne, a member of the Slovenian parliament, by calling 1411. Thank you, Slovenian friends of Serbs.” Charity is of course often just a cover for connections between numerous politicians and businessmen, so we have sent Jan and Mark Škoberne questions about the business connections between Esotech and the government of Republika Srpska, but we have not received any answers.
However, a search for connections between the surnames Škoberne and Dodik turns up business connections between the construction company CPM in Maribor and Republika Srpska. Janez Škoberne was the director of the Maribor road company that has now gone bankrupt, and in 2010, during Pahor’s government, he was about to acquire a 300 million contract for the construction of a highway between Banja Luka and Dob, but the deal fell through due to inadequate bank guarantees.
Former UDBA member Isajlović is also a successful construction worker in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Drago Isajlović, a former member of UDBA, a lobbyist and an owner of numerous companies, also has a traditionally good relationship with Republika Srpska. A while ago, the internet newspaper Portal plus reported that Isajlović is the owner of the company SGP Gorenjc, which is the founder and co-owner of two other companies – Gorenje inženiring, d. o. o. and NE-MU, d. o. o., which was founded in 1996. A co-owner of the latter is also Elmont, d. o. o. from Žepče in Bosnia, and its primary activity is the construction of petrol stations, terminals and refineries. All their petrol stations were made exclusively for the Petrol BIH Oil Company, the Bosnian branch of Slovenian Petrol. Furthermore, it is known that Isajlović, as a lobbyist, has a lot of influence over Petrol.
Slovenian media are indifferent to mafia links
According to Požareport, the business skeletons in Republika Srpska also extend to the president of the supervisory board at Slovenian Sovereign Holding, Damjan Belič, who allegedly owns the Centurion company in Bijeljina. It is a private security agency, and it was also financed with state money, which was supported by Dodik, according to Bosnian media.
The group of Slovenian politicians and influential people with links to the Balkans, particularly Dodik’s Republika Srpska, also includes Zoran Janković, the Ljubljana mayor suspected of bribery and sexual harassment.