The Serb member of Bosnia’s Presidency who revealed on Wednesday that he knows what the opposition is up to because he is listening to recordings of their phone conversations said on Thursday that he was just “teasing” his political opponents when he said that during a parliament session.
“This was, of course, part of the relations within the National Assembly. Whoever truly wiretaps, doesn’t speak about it openly. This was, as the opposition would call it, a ‘performance’, or as the common people would call it ‘teasing’,” said Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik on Thursday.
Dodik, who is the leader of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), made the wiretapping claim a day before as he spoke at a session of the parliament of Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) region.
He revealed that opposition MP Drasko Stanivukovic will not be the joint opposition candidate for the position of the Banja Luka mayor because he does not have the support of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), adding that he knows this because he “listened” to their conversation.
He then asked Stanivukovic and SDS lawmaker Nebojsa Vukanovic whether it is true that one of them owes money to the other.
“Here, ask these people from the SDS about it, I listen to their phone conversations so I know. I have the right to listen to those. Once you are president, you will also have that right,” Dodik said.
Dodik then asked the RS Interior Minister and member of his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Dragan Lukac, to confirm that he submits the wiretaps to him.
“There is no government that doesn’t wiretap the opposition. So do we. Complain to Transparency (International), to your father, to whomever you want. I have the right to listen,” he said.
Dodik’s wiretapping claims caused a public uproar and opposition leaders, as well as representatives of Transparency International (TI), submitted criminal complaints against him.
A day after the scandal erupted, Dodik and members of his party tried to downplay the statement, claiming he was not being serious when he talked about wiretapping.
“This is just a political game which Mr. Dodik is playing with certain people who he does not take seriously, so he’s playing with them,” said RS Interior Minister Dragan Lukac, adding that his party boss likes to “throw the ball” to the opposition.
“I personally say that there is no wiretapping going on in the RS, except for those who are engaged in some crime, and in accordance with court decisions,” he said.
The leader of the Party for Democratic Progress (PDP), Borislav Borenovic, said on Thursday that he submitted a criminal complaint against Dodik over the matter, arguing that the Bosnian Serb leader did not only admit to a crime but also put “the basic constitutional principles which the functioning of this society is based on” in question.
PDP lawmaker Igor Crnadak also commented on Dodik’s statement, labelling it a “coup.”
“There is a special war ongoing. This is unprecedented. This doesn’t even exist in banana republics,” he said.
TI argued that this time he has “admitted that he is setting up the foundation for a totalitarian state with the illegal wiretapping of his political opponents” and that prosecutors must look into allegations that “para-intelligence agencies which are run by entity police minister Dragan Lukac” have been formed in the country.