Vladimir Orlić

Photo credit: FoNet/Marija Đoković

Vladimir Orlić: The BIA’s new leading man

An announcement broke on June 12 that the National Security Council had endorsed Vladimir Orlić’s appointment as the new Director of the Security Intelligence Agency (BIA). That has left a lingering question – who is the first man of the Serbian secret service? Formerly occupying the top post as Speaker of Parliament, Orlić’s political biography and strong loyalties to the ruling party pin him as the ideal candidate.

BIA Chief: A coveted position 


Vladimir Orlić will take over the reins from the Acting Director of the BIA, Tomislav Radovanović, in the post that has been formally vacant since the resignation of Aleksandar Vulin in November 2023. Previous occupiers of this top post had been the subjects of several controversies with Vulin having been sanctioned by the US for alleged corruption, involvement in drug trafficking and ties to Russia. Still, the former directors of the BIA move on to even bigger roles in the Government: Aleksandar Vulin is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia and Bratislav Gašić, Vulin’s predecessor, is now the Minister of Defense.

Both Gašić and Vulin congratulated Orlić on his appointment as Director of the BIA, with Vulin stating that Orlić will be an excellent Director who will not allow foreigners to change him with flattery and threats.

“As a comrade of Aleksandar Vučić and as the previous Director of BIA, I want to congratulate Vladimir Orlić on the opportunity to serve Serbia and the Serbs in one of the most responsible positions in the Serbian defense and security system. The BIA is the predecessor and successor of the Serbs, and it reaches where the state of Serbia cannot. In the BIA, he will be awaited by special, skeptical, hardworking and honest people who will first appreciate his attitude towards Serbia, and then the way he keeps his word and protects both his own and the image of the Service“, said Vulin.


A familiar face


Orlić will move into the security sector and away from parliamentary duties after serving as Member of Parliament in four parliamentary convocations. Alongside the role of Speaker, he was also the deputy head of the parliamentary group of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) from 2016 to 2020 and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly from 2020 to 2022.

Aleksandar Martinović, Vladimir Orlić
Photo credit: FoNet/Zoran Mrđa

Like Vulin and Gašić, Vladimir Orlić also has no experience in the security and intelligence field. The 41-year-old graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade, where he received his doctorate at the Department of Telecommunications and Information Technologies. In his official biography, it is also stated that in the party he primarily performed duties in the sphere of information and media, as well as organizational affairs.

A true loyalist to the ruling party, he has been in the SNS since its foundation in 2008. Over the years, he has risen through the ranks and was elected a member of the SNS Presidency in 2017. Since 2021, he has been the vice-president of the Main Board of that party. Orlić was also a representative of the SNS in the working bodies of the European People’s Party.


Rich political portfolio


He is remembered as someone who introduced censorship in the National Assembly by allowing for official transcripts of the parliamentary sessions to be redacted and changed. Once, a serious accusation made by Serbian Progressive Party MP Nebojša Bakarec against opposition MP Zoran Zečević disappeared from the transcript, and on another occasion, the transcript of the parliamentary session was changed after a diplomatic scandal caused by the statement of the then-Minister of the Interior, Bratislav Gašić, that the killer of Oliver Ivanović was under protection of German authorities.

Just as he did not hesitate to enter into discussions with opposition MPs even from the position of Speaker, he did the same, only more harshly, as an MP, relying on the expressions – thieves, tycoons, traitors, savages and thugs.

“Everyone saw your love, how you destroyed institutions, how you destroyed public property, how you destroyed other people’s lives. Is it proof of some love for Belgrade or for any place in Serbia? No, it’s not, among other things, because you’re proven liars, you’ve seen that now, but because you’re the biggest thugs in the world, thugs like neither Belgrade nor Serbia remember.” (Vladimir Orlić on the opposition, First session (constitutive), March 19, 2024)

Orlić was accused by the opposition of stifling any criticism, preventing them their right to reply, taking away the floor, and attacking opposition MPs and independent media. At the same time, he enabled the parliamentary platform to be used to directly target citizens, students, single out individuals and disclose private information, accuse citizens of pursuing colored revolutions, attack and delegitimize independent media and civil society organizations and promote the use of hate speech. 

“By the way, what is it that you speak so wonderfully of, who does it serve, and where does it lead, as you have seen lately, Russia announced that, according to their assessments, this would lead to a coloured revolution. It’s nice to know you know you had such wonderful things to say about that. You and all the others with you”, Speaker Orlić on June 1, 2023.


Friends and foes 


In 2022, Orlić maintained that Serbia’s commitment to Europe is indisputable and that it is the “number one strategic priority”. However, more recently, he has accused the West of wanting to destroy the relationships among people and ruin every chance Serbia has to live in neighborly relations, something Serbia is aiming to preserve. Orlić had also thanked Russia for its support in preserving Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and for its principled stance on the Kosovo and Metohija issue. Closeness with Russia was also maintained during Orlić’s speakership as his meetings with the Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, occurred almost monthly (8 meetings over the period of one year).

Vladimir Orlic, Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko
Photo credit: FoNet/Aleksandar Barda

Orlić also went on an unprecedented diplomatic visit to Iran even amid a range of accusations against the Iranian government for the grave mistreatment of citizens and human rights violations. The focus of the visit was on advancing the traditionally friendly relations between the two states and peoples, and enhancing comprehensive cooperation.

In addition to political dissidents and independent media, Vladimir Orlić often targeted civil society organizations as well. After the Open Parliament, a CRTA initiative, filed a complaint against Vladimir Orlić in March 2021 for violating the Code of Conduct, Orlić made serious accusations against CRTA, singling out specific team members. Specifically, Orlić accused CRTA employees of “actively participating” in the campaign to relativize “the coup attempt, the attack on Aleksandar Vučić and his family members, the persecution of those people”. 

After CRTA expressed a well-founded suspicion that there was organized voter migration in the elections on December 17, 2023, Orlić repeatedly attacked CRTA on his “X” account. He accused the employees of CRTA of working for the parties of the former government, of being paid by the President of the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice, Dragan Đilas, and called them “liars”.