Siniša Mali

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Siniša Mali
Синиша Мали
Siniša Mali.jpg
Sinisa Mali
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
29 May 2018
Prime MinisterAna Brnabić
Preceded byDušan Vujović
Ana Brnabić (Acting)
73rd Mayor of Belgrade
In office
24 April 2014 – 28 May 2018
Preceded byDragan Đilas
Succeeded byAndreja Mladenović (Acting)
Zoran Radojičić
Personal details
Born (1972-08-25) 25 August 1972 (age 47)
Belgrade, SFR Yugoslavia
NationalitySerbian
Political partySerbian Progressive Party[1]
Children3
EducationFaculty of Economics
Alma materUniversity of Belgrade
OccupationPolitician
ProfessionEconomist

Siniša Mali (Serbian Cyrillic: Синиша Мали, pronounced [sǐniʃa mâːliː]; born 25 August 1972[2]) is a Serbian economist and politician. He serves as the Minister of Finance in the Government of Serbia since 29 May 2018.

He previously served as the mayor of Belgrade from 2014 to 2018, and as the President of the Temporary Council of Belgrade from 2013 to 2014.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Siniša Mali was born on 25 August 1972, in Belgrade.[4] He graduated from the primary and secondary school – the 5th Belgrade Grammar School. In 1995, he completed his undergraduate studies, while in 1998 he received his master's degree at the Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade.[5] During the undergraduate studies, Mali received the award as the student of the generation, and after completing his studies, he received the award for the best undergraduate dissertation.[6]

As a Ron Brown scholar, in 1999, he received his master's degree in Finance (Master of Business Administration) from the Washington University in St. Louis, United States of America.[6] During the studies, Mali worked as an assistant on five courses in the field of business finance. After studying, Mali received the award as the best student in the field of finance, as well as the award for being among the top 10 students of the top 20 business schools in the United States that year.[6]

In 2013, Mali defended his doctoral dissertation "Value Creation through the Process of Restructuring and Privatisation – Theoretical Concepts and Achieved Results in Serbia" at the Faculty of Organisational Sciences, University of Belgrade.[6]

Business career[edit]

Prior to his political career, Mali was a financial adviser in the private sector. He worked in several private companies that were engaged in advising in the field of financial services.Between 1995 and 1997, Mali worked for Deloitte &Touche in Belgrade, and in its Prague office from 1999 to 2001. During his stay in the United States, he worked at Credit Suisse First Boston in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group in New York City.[7]

In 2001, he was appointed as the Assistant Minister of Privatisation in the Ministry of Economy and Privatisation. During his tenure, Mali was in charge of the execution of the privatisation process in the Republic of Serbia and preparation of the various laws in this field. At the end of that year, he moved to the Privatisation Agency, where he was the director of the Centre for Tender Privatisation. He remained in that position until the end of 2003.[7]

From 2005 to 2008, Mali was the chairman of the real estate company "NCA Investment Group Doo Beograd".[8]

Mali has served as a chairman of several boards of directors, including Fiat Automobil Srbija and Komercijalna banka,[8] as well as chairman of the Supervisory Committee of Air Serbia.[9] Additionally, he was a chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade and the 2018 EuroLeague Final Four.[10]

He is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and member of CFA Institute, Serbian Business Angels Network, Fulbright Alumni Association of Serbia, British-Serbian Business Club, as well as a member of the Golf Club Belgrade and a holder of a golf green card.[11] Also, he is the holder of the portfolio manager license, issued by the Serbian Securities Commission.[7]

Mali's private business was being investigated by the Serbian Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering (APML) in 2016. Earlier, during 2015, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Serbian investigative journalism outlet KRIK discovered that Mali controls 42 bank accounts, registered under himself, his wife, and his three underage children. These accounts were holding sums of money far exceeding his official salary. In addition, OCCRP/KRIK discovered and reported his purchase of 24 apartments on Bulgarian Black Sea coast in 2012 and 2013. APML suspected Mali's accounts and apartment purchases as a money-laundering scheme and reported it to the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade. The prosecutors dismissed the case, as they did not find evidence of criminal activity and therefore rejected to launch an investigation.[12]

Political career[edit]

In 2012, Mali was appointed as the advisor for economic affairs to the First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.[13] A year later, Mali was appointed as the Chief Negotiator with investors from the United Arab Emirates. He conducted negotiations on a strategic partnership between the then state-owned company JAT and Etihad Airways that resulted in the establishment of Air Serbia.[13]

Following the ousting of Mayor Dragan Đilas in November 2013, Mali was appointed as the President of the Temporary Council of Belgrade.[14] After the 2014 election in Belgrade, Mali was elected as a Mayor on the proposal of the winning Serbian Progressive Party.[15]

From the very first moment of his appointment in 2014, Mali initiated a comprehensive financial consolidation program in order to achieve sustainable fiscal stabilisation. During his tenure as the Mayor of Belgrade, Mali managed to halve the debt of the city of Belgrade, which in 2014 amounted to 1.2 billion euros, and to reduce the budget deficit by four times.[16] Mali conducted a debt consolidation of public utility companies, which in the first three years of his tenure resulted in the net profit of 9.5 billion dinars.[17] He managed to galvanize a significant number of investments’ projects that contributed to low unemployment.[18] The most significant is the new hub project “Belgrade Waterfront” (total worth 3.5 billion euros), the opening of the first IKEA store[19] and Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ brand in Serbia,[20] as well as the opening of the Chinese automotive parts’ factory MEI TA Europe Ltd.[21] During Mali's tenure, Moody's Public Sector Europe (MPSE) upgraded the City of Belgrade's long-term issuer rating to Ba3 from B1; the rating's outlook has been changed to stable from positive.[22]

Mali's tenure as the Mayor of Belgrade was marked with numerous significant infrastructure projects such as completion of the Pupin Bridge over the river Danube, Košare's heroes Boulevard,[23] water factory "Makiš 2",[24] as well as the complete reconstruction of Slavija Square, Boulevard of Liberation, Roosevelt Street and Mije Kovačević Street.[25] The railway station "Belgrade Center" (Prokop) started to operate after 40 years.[26] The projects of expansion of the pedestrian zone in the city of Belgrade and facade restoration were initiated.[27] Agreements were signed for the construction of a waste processing plant in Vinča,[28] wastewater treatment plants in Veliko Selo[29] and for the construction of the Obrenovac - Novi Beograd heating plant.[30]

On 29 May 2018, he was appointed as the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Serbia in the cabinet of Ana Brnabić, after the resignation of Dušan Vujović three weeks earlier.[31]

At the beginning of his tenure as the Minister of Finance, Mali has emphasised the two main goals; maintenance of the macroeconomic stability and achievement of the greater economic growth.[32] In the first year of his tenure, the new set of laws has been passed with the aim to contribute to a better economic environment, reduce the tax burden on labour, incentive beginners in business, increase pensions and public sector salaries and the modernize Tax Administration.[33]

On 4 July 2019, Mali was appointed as the president of the Coordination Body for Combat against Money laundering and Terrorism financing, where he replaced the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Nebojša Stefanović. Concurrently, he was appointed as the Governor of the Republic of Serbia at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).[34]

Mali holds the position of a member of the Presidency of the Serbian Progressive Party.[35]

PhD thesis controversy[edit]

Siniša Mali obtained his PhD "Value Creation through the Process of Restructuring and Privatisation – Theoretical Concepts and Achieved Results in Serbia" at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Organizational Sciences (FOS) in 2013.[1] He originally submitted his thesis at the faculty where he studied, the Faculty of Economics, but his work was rejected. Mali then modified it and submitted it to the FOS.[36][37] Dragan Đuričin, one of the members of the commission which accepted Mali's thesis at FOS, actually claims that Mali wrote two doctorates, one which was rejected at the Faculty of Economics and one that was accepted by the FOS. Submitting one the same thesis at two faculties is forbidden and the Faculty of Economics never published Mali's original thesis nor the reasons why it was rejected, so it remains unclear if these were different theses.[38] Mali stated that he wrote the thesis for 3 years, which would mean that he concurrently wrote two theses[39] Dean of the FOS, Milan Martic, told in an interview that Mali's doctoral dissertation was rejected at the Faculty of Economics, after which he has published his dissertation at FOS. He also stated that 50 percent of the dissertation was different than the one handed over to the Faculty of Economics.[40]

In July 2014 the website "Peščanik" claimed that Mali had plagiarized at least one third of his Ph.D. thesis.[41] Raša Karapandža, finance professor at the EBS University of Business and Law in Wiesbaden, Germany, and visiting scholar at the New York University and the University of California in Berkeley, showed that Mali plagiarized the thesis with the content from other theses, authored articles, site of the Agency of Privatization of Serbia and Wikipedia by publishing several examples.[38][42] At that time, Mali said that he "is firmly standing behind his work".[2]

In September 2014, German publisher De Gruyter announced that the article published in their journal, which qualified Mali for the title, contains uncited paragraphs from a doctoral dissertation of Stifanos Hailemariam, from Eritrea, titled "Corporate Value Creation, Governance and Privatisation: Restructuring and Managing Enterprises in Transition – The Case of Eritrea", University of Groningen (2001).[43] Shortly after, on January 20, 2015, Simon Cifert, editor-in-chief of the journal "Organization and Management", which published the scientific work of Sinisa Mali, retracts his text from the journal. After revision of the text submitted by the lead co-author, the editorial board of the journal republished the above-mentioned study, with an introductory note Corrigendum[44] citing another source from the literature used in the design of the study, which was left out by a technical mistake in the previous version.

In November 2016 the FOS formed Ethics Commission which found that doctoral dissertation is not plagiarism, and that report was accepted by the Teaching – Scientific Council of the Faculty. The Ethics Commission concluded that it can not be challenged on the original scientific contribution of the doctoral dissertation.[45] Dušan Teodorović, a member of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts and president of the Academy Board for Higher Education sent 20 pages of evidence which he alleges prove the work is a plagiarism to the Rector of the University of Belgrade asking for Mali's PhD to be annulled.[38][46] On 18 January 2017, citing procedural reasons, the Senate of the University of Belgrade rejected the Ethics commission findings, instructing the faculty to form an Expert Commission instead, as it should have done in the first place by the university's rule book.[47]

On 27 February 2018, a group of professors and doctors of philosophy delivered a request to the Belgrade University's Rectorate to prevent the promotion of Mali into the doctor of philosophy and to annul his PhD altogether. 379 doctors of philosophy, including 8 members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts signed a request, which also asks for the ethical scrutiny of three members of the commission which originally confirmed his doctorate.[48][49] On the same day, economist and professor Boško Mijatović [sr], accused Mali of blatantly copying study "Novi model privatizacije u Srbiji" (New model of privatization in Serbia), published in 2000 by Mijatović, Boris Begović and Boško Živković. The study is available online and comparison showed that some sections were rewritten to the letter.[50][51] A day later, rector of the University of Belgrade Vladimir Bumbaširević announced that the National Council for Higher Education will soon name its representative to the commission, adding that Mali is not a doctor of philosophy, since he hasn't been awarded the doctoral diploma yet, nor has he been promoted to PhD, neither he will be until the entire process is over.[52] Still, on the Serbian Progressive Party's list for the local elections in Belgrade, set for 4 March 2018, Siniša Mali named "doctor of philosophy" as his "occupation".[53]

In February 2019, the FOS formed an experts commission which, with the help of the specialized software Turnitin, by the late April concluded that Mali properly quoted only 2 out of 126 quotations in his thesis, that he copied 4,500 words without quotations, but that he plagiarized only 6.97% of his thesis, which the commission claimed is not enough to dispute its scientific contribution. The commission found that actually 14 to 16% of the text is copied, but the difference came from the "official state reports", "common phrases", "formulas", etc. The commission also stated that Hailemariam's thesis was the "starting point" for Mali's thesis, even though Mali doesn't quote or mention Hailemariam in his PhD at all. Commission also ignored the accusations of plagiarism by Mijatović, Begović and Živković.[38][42][54][55]

Ethical code of the Belgrade University however states that plagiarism is "literal transcription of the other author's text, or copying from the electronic or printed sources, either in Serbian or foreign languages, in parts or entirety".[42] Other professors protested, claiming that you can't "plagiarize a little", that, depending on the context, you can properly cite other authors but not the entire passages and pages, and that what the commission described is a textbook of "hidden plagiarism".[56] In general, the commission was accused of polemicizing with Karapandža's evidence instead of dealing with the thesis itself.[38] The composition of the 4-members commission was also criticized. None of the members deal with the corporate finances, which is the theme of the PhD. One of them speaks no English so he couldn't compare the original doctorate to the Mali's one,[55] only one published works in a journal with impact factor, while the third was removed from the state university after he was caught by the police for selling exams to the students. Also, the commission in its report referred to Mali as "doctor", which he still isn't as the University hadn't promoted him yet.[38]

Karapandža pointed out that Turnitin can't compare theses in two different languages and Mali literally translated it from English to Serbian word by word (with some extremely poor translations), using italics and bolded text in the exactly same places and copying almost all of the schematics and diagrams. The only thing Mali did was to replace Eritrea with Serbia in sentences.[38][42] Mali even kept the example of value forming for cotton, which is one of the main crops in Eritrea but doesn't grow in Serbia. Teodorović also said there is a zero probability that two persons, from different parts of the world, name 100 exactly the same references, in the exactly the same order, including exactly the same typos.[57] Karapandža then showed that the commission actually only cited several pages which he originally published proving it was a plagiarism. He then continued to publish further pages of blatant copies, which the commission never mentioned, asking the commission to tell what is the percentage of plagiarism needed to dispute Mali's PhD.[56] He also noted that the fact that Mali simply copied texts from the government documents was taken as a mitigating circumstance, while in Germany, in the case of Guttenberg plagiarism scandal it was taken as an aggravated circumstance because of the misuse of state and government resources.[38][55] Total of 4 complaints were filed to the University's Professional Ethics Board against the findings of the FOS commission, one of which was signed by 140 university professors.[58][59]

Professors Todorović and Karapandža are often attacked by the pro-government tabloids and members Mali's political party. Mali labeled them "twitter professors", adding he will "continue to fight for better and more prosperous Serbia and for the higher quality of life for its every citizen".[39] He described Karapandža as "completely anonymous individual" who attacks him for political reasons.[60] Tabloid Alo in August 2017 sent a letter to dean of the university in Wiesbaden, asking him to fire Karapandža whom they accused of plagiarism and of smearing the names of Serbian citizens. Independent commission was formed by the university which cleared Karapandža of all allegations from the letter, labeling them materially incorrect and non-academic, with the university supporting Karapandža in debunking the fake doctorates.[61][62] Alo refused to publish the rebuttal. Rectors and deans from the Belgrade University, academics, directors of the scientific institutes and numerous professors, received a letter from professor Đuričin, member of the original commission, actually an open discreditation of Karapandža who, among other things, was accused of being part of the "mathematicians clique" which intruded into the economics and caused the global Financial crisis of 2007–2008.[38]

Acting upon the complaints, on 15 July 2019 University's Professional Ethics Board again returned the doctorate back to the FOS for new deliberation. The board concluded that the commission's findings, on which the faculty's decision was made, were "incomplete, unclear and contradictory".[63] When published, board's report stated that faculty's commission didn't check if the doctorate is plagiarized at all, judging the “scientific contribution” instead, which wasn't its task. The board also asked for feedback from both the faculty and Mali, regarding new complaints. The faculty responded to the board, Mali didn't. They also instructed the commission that software check is only one of the ways to check for plagiarism.[64] Some professors criticized the board for not declaring a plagiarism right away, while others resigned their administrative posts in protest.[65][66] Rector of the University of Belgrade, Ivanka Popović, asked for the professors not to pressure the board. Critics said that the board was left alone for months and again made bad decision, while the "post festum" criticism is not a pressure.[67]

The doctorate of Mali was just one in the series of education-related scandals since 2014 [sr], regarding dubious doctorates and diplomas of the high-profile public persons, mainly politicians (Tomislav Nikolić, Nebojša Stefanović, Mića Jovanović, Jorgovanka Tabaković, Aleksandar Martinović, Igor Bečić, Aleksandar Šapić). So far, only Jovanović's PhD has been declared "non-existing" by the Ministry of Education. Citing actions of the FOS regarding handling of the Mali's doctorate scandal as their starting point for credibility re-check, Center for Education and Evaluation in Science (CEES) announced in May 2019 that journals published by the FOS are dropped out from SCIndeks, Serbian version of citation analysis. The reason given is the faculty's "compromised ethical status".[68] Fake diplomas, especially that of Mali, became regular part of performance acts in students' protests.[69][70][71][72][73]

Head of the University of Belgrade, rector Ivanka Popović, stated that the case of Mali's doctorate already harmed the reputation of the university.[74] Former rector Marija Bogdanović [sr] said autonomy went down the drain five and a half years ago when Vučić said Mali's plagiarism is the "stupidest thing he has ever heard".[75] Berkeley physics professor Jasmina Vujic visited students during the September 2019 protest, calling doctorate an obvious plagiarism and that 5 years long process damaged university's reputation so much that at Berkeley they are now cautious on accepting Belgrade University students at doctoral studies.[76] Former head of the Ethics Board, professor Radmila Vasić, confirmed that the reputation is damaged and that from various sides they get warnings that Serbian students are more thoroughly checked when applying for doctoral studies.[77] Judith Butler, who visited Belgrade University few weeks later, supported the protest and said that "academic liberty is political matter".[78]

Ethics Commission at the FOS formed the same Experts Commission which on 23 October 2019 submitted exactly the same report as the previous time, that percentage of plagiarism doesn't call for any sanctions. Accepting this report, two days later, the Ethics Commission submitted its own report, adding it hadn't "enough facts" but that there are "elements of non-academic conduct", recommending "public reprimand" of Mali.[79][80][81]

The Ethics Committee confirmed the Decision of the Expert Committee that the doctorate of finance minister Sinisa Mali was not plagiarized. The Expert Committee has already taken a decision and sent a report to the Ethics Committee of the University of Belgrade on more than 699 pages, analyzing the doctoral dissertation of Finance Minister Siniša Mali. At the same time, members of the committee Vinko Kandžija, Dejan Erić, Tomaz Cater and Dragan Mikerević requested a meeting with members of the Ethics Committee of the University of Belgrade as they would like to substantiate their views about the indisputable scientific contribution of Siniša Mali's doctoral dissertation. The Commission also emphasized that it is not disputed that the doctoral dissertation contains certain shortcomings, but that it was not plagiarized.[82]

One of the FOS professors, Mirko Vujošević, labeled the students "terrorists" and said that faculty shouldn't mess with this at all and let the University to deal with it.[83] Prior to the session of the FOS' Teaching–Scientific Council, the students covered the entrance with the messages against plagiarism.[84] The Council accepted the report but changed the recommendation to "public condemnation", the stricter type of sanction. Some members of the council stated that this practically instructs the University's Ethics Board to annul the doctorate.[85][86]

Several council members wanted for the council to vote directly on plagiarism, but this wasn't accepted. Hence, the faculty never actually voted whether the work is plagiarism or not. This didn't stop government media to report that it was again voted that the doctorate is not plagiarism.[87][88][89]

The Teaching and Scientific Council of the Faculty of the Organizational Sciences then adopted the report of the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of the Organizational Sciences on the PhD of the Minister of Finance. Neither the Scientific Council nor the two previous Committees, Expert and Ethical, declared Mali's dissertation plagiarized. The conclusion of the Faculty of the Organizational Sciences Panel, which will be sent to the Ethics Committee of the University of Belgrade, did not state that the work was plagiarized, nor did it recommend that it should be revoked.[90]

Mali stated: "I am glad they again confirmed my doctorate is not plagiarism, cause I know I wrote it, I am confident in my knowledge, I am confident in what I have done. But here, for some errors that were made I will accept the responsibility and let's move on". He accused opposition of politicizing and spinning the issue, labeling them as fascists.[91] Mali also added that he would "most gladly tear his doctorate and write another one" and that opposition is attacking his doctorate because they have no plan or program and can't say anything bad about him because "salaries and pensions are rising".[92]

Given the date when the FOS made its decision, in order to follow the due process and because of the deadline for complaints, the final date for decision was moved to 11 November, or 13 November in case of the rector's complaint. Citing further procedure, rector Popović then gave 22 November as the final date, apologizing to the students, who decided to wait, but without any apologies, pleads or concessions after that date. They repeated the blockade will resume if before 22 November Mali's deoctorate is not declared a plagiarism, with some professor publicly announcing they will join the blockade this time. Rector confirmed there will be no more sending the decision back to the FOS and that decision by the university board will be final.[88][93][94][95] This time, a group of over 200 university professors filed a joint complaint against the decision of the FOS. Later, four other complaints were filed, lifting the number to almost 300 professors. For the first time, Mali also filed complaints in his favor. Three complaints, one by him and two by his attorneys, had a total of 3,000 pages. He didn't claim the doctorate is not a plagiarism, but cited numerous formalities and technicalities in the process claiming he never received any decisions from the academic institutions, that no one of the persons who filed complaints since the process began actually have the right to do so and that filed complaints are not properly structured. Because of this, his attorneys planned to file counter-complaint to every complaint by the professors.[89][96][97][98]

On 21 November 2019, University's Professional Ethics Board altered the faculty's decision and unanimously confirmed the non-academic behavior of Siniša Mali while writing his doctorate. Rector Popović stated he violated the Article 22 of the University's Code of professional ethics, because he literally included texts and entire passages in his dissertation, without naming the original authors. The Board also reprimanded the faculty's dean for only suggesting the reprimand of Mali, and not going through with it, because that was his duty. The Board sent its decision to the Senate which will make the final decision in accordance with the guidebook on the process of nullifying diplomas and other works.[99][100][101][102] Professor Teodorović announced further complaints against Mali's PhD mentor, all members of the commission which endorsed his doctorate and all members of the commissions which declared his doctorate a non-plagiarism.[103]

On the decision of the Ethics Committee of the University of Belgrade, about his doctoral dissertation, the Minister Sinisa Mali made the following statement. “I am sure in my knowledge. I know I did not do it. This topic means to some people for political reasons and that I can not even comment. In any case, in the next few days I will address this topic more extensively, and now, to be honest, I am interested in the budget of Serbia and to deal with what I have been paid by the citizens of Serbia ". [104] President Vučić said he is not |surprised by the University's "deeply political decision" and continued to insult and dispute people who were active in debunking the plagiarism, or were connected to them (who gave the right to the "half-literate" and "highly uneducated leaders of political parties", "great expert Šoškić"), adding Mali is doing "excellent work".[105]

On 12 December 2019, the Senate of the Belgrade University unanimously and officially annulled Mali's doctorate due to the plagiarism.[106]

Students protests and aftermath[edit]

A group of students blocked the Rectorate of University of Belgrade protesting the July 2019 decision. During talks with the rector Popović, they asked for the university to push the prime minister Ana Brnabić to dismiss Mali from the government (and Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović, also because of the plagiarism), to ease the pressure on the university to declare the doctorate a plagiarism. Popović asked for some time over the summer to see into the students' demands, so the students set a deadline for September, when they will continue their actions.[107]

On 13 September 2019, a group of students locked themselves inside the Rectorate, blocking anyone from entering. Main demand was that rector Popović, on Radio Television Serbia, call for premier Brnabić to sack Mali from the government. Counter group, some of which admitted they were summoned by the SNS (Serbian Progressive Party) also gathered, clashing with the students.[108][109] Others were identified as party activists via social networks.[110] Groups of citizens who supported the students gathered in front of the building, including some professors and public and opposition figures. University's governing bodies accused the students of non-academic behavior and political demands.[111][112][113][114][115]

Popović, however, began negotiations with the students stating that hostile takeover of the building, cutting off of water or electricity or any repressive measures towards the students are out of the question.[116] Negotiations came to the stalemate until 22 September, when Popović acknowledged and condemned intrusion of the SNS activists into the building, which was one of the demands from the protesters,[117] confirming that some members of the SNS group were obviously "not students".[116] Negotiations continued, with Popović defending protesters adding the talks are the only course of action and that question of Mali's doctorate must "be solved".[118] The agreement was reached when Popović announced she "stands by her students" who are "fighting for the autonomy and reputation of the university". As per compromise with the students, she gave a deadline to the Ethics Board until 4 November 2019 to decide whether Mali's doctorate is a case of plagiarism.[119] On 25 September, students left the building. Rector guaranteed that their request regarding Mali's doctorate will be executed.[120][121] The students reiterated they organized the blockade because of Mali's plagiarism.[122] They announced new blockade, this time jointly with the professors who support them, if Mali's doctorate is not confirmed as plagiarism.[123][124]

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic made a statement to express her support  to minister Sinisa Mali do to request that students present during their blockade of the rectorate.  She stated that Sinisa Mali was her personal choice for a minister and that she was completely sure of her decision. She also said that without Sinisa Mali there would be no reduction in payroll taxes, an increase in the minimal cost of labour and other good things that happened.[125] Prime Minister expressed her concern that the whole process was politically motivated. She said that she did not want to interfere with the autonomy of the University, but that as a citizen she noticed the contradictory statements of rector Ivanka Popovic. [126]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic supported Sinisa Mali and stated that the protest for his dismissal made the students who want to influence the composition of the Government. He added that election Sinisa Mali as a minister was the political decision of the ruling coalition. He also stated that the goal of the blockade itself is to elicit attention, not to improve student conditions.[127]

President Vučić labeled students as opposition activists who will not see the police intervention, "which they wish for".[108][128] He said he supports "love between rector and students", adding "it is super for her not to enter her office in 15 days...it would be ideal for her not to do anything for another 15 days". Even pro-government media described the entire Vučić's approach as ironic.[119][129] He said there is nothing rude in his statement that "she is in political love with members of the opposition parties".[120] Premier Brnabić said she will not sack Mali from the government, calling protests an anarchy and "hostage crisis".[116][123] Popović called for all politicians to respect the autonomy of the university and freedom of thought and expression of its students.,[119][130] responding that with the 21st century technology, she doesn't have to sit in her office all the time.[123] Mali stayed quiet regarding the protests, but posted his diplomas and recognitions, and photos of him "still studying", on his Instagram account,[123][131] though no one disputed his diplomas, only the doctorate.[132]

Vučič also stated that Mali doesn't need diploma cause he may be a minister with only an elementary school education, since it is a political decision.[133] Response from Karapandža and others was that this is not an issue at all - what matters is whether someone is a liar and a thief, or not. Vučić's "defense" was described as an indirect admission that Mali plagiarized his doctorate but that it doesn't matter anyway.[134]

The problem with Mali's doctorate already crossed lines of academia and became a much wider social issue in Serbia, but after the agreement was reached, a full blown media attack against university professors began. They were attacked by the pro-regime media, highest state officials, members of parliament and members of the ruling party. Main focus was on two most media exposed members of the negotiation team with the students, rector Popović and professor Danijel Sinani, on professors Karapandža and Teodorović from before, but campaign was also directed against other professors who publicly denounced Mali's doctorate, like Danica Popović and Ognjen Radonjić.[135][136][77][137]

In Mali's defense, government media claim that while for the "five and a half years every word is being measured" in Mali's doctorate, in the world, up to 20% of plagiarism is allowed if it's "not essential",[138] and that EU University (which doesn't exist) confirmed that Mali's doctorate is not plagiarism.[87]

Personal life[edit]

Mali is divorced and has two sons and a daughter.[139] He speaks English fluently, uses Greek and is studying Chinese. Mali was awarded the "Best European 2014" award for the project of development and reconstruction of Belgrade. In 2017, the European Movement in B&H awarded him with the "Most Tolerant City in the Region" award.[140] He is a keen sportsman, and a regular participant in semi-marathon races within the Belgrade Marathon.[141] In November 2018 he ran the full Athens Marathon[142] and in September next year Mali ran full marathon in Berlin.[143] He was a member of the presidency of KK Crvena zvezda[144] and he is the honorary holder of the black belt in taekwondo 5th dan for contribution to the development of sports.[145] During his high school days, Mali played guitar in a heavy metal band.[146] He was awarded the Order of the Great Martyrs of Kragujevac of the first degree. It was handed to him with the blessing of the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, in October 2019, by Bishop of the Diocese of Šumadija, Jovan. [147]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2017&mm=11&dd=18&nav_category=11&nav_id=1326844 Ničić već stigao do Predsedništva, izabrani i Mali i Vesić
  2. ^ Sinisa Mali becomes Belgrade mayor, Tanjug News Agency, 24 April 2014, archived from the original on 1 May 2014
  3. ^ Službeni list Grada Beograda, Year LVII, No. 52. 20 November 2013. ISSN 0350-4727.
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  37. ^ Tezu Siniše Malog odbio Ekonomski fakultet, pa ju je odbranio na FON-u
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  53. ^ Electoral list for the coalition Aleksandar Vučić – zato što volimo Beograd
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  56. ^ a b Miodrag Sovilj (8 May 2019). "Akademska zajednica o analizi doktorata Malog: Ne može se malo prepisivati" [Academic community on the analysis of the Mali's doctorate: you can't plagiarize a little] (in Serbian). N1.
  57. ^ FoNet (13 May 2019). "Teodorović: Trećina doktorata Malog kopi-pejst, bilo bi fantastično da me tuži" [Teodorović: One third of Mali's doctorate is copy-paste, it would be fantastic if he would sue me] (in Serbian). N1.
  58. ^ Adam Santovac (21 May 2019). "Mali veruje u svoje znanje, ali 140 profesora ne veruje u njegov doktorat" [Mali believes in his knowledge but 140 professors don't believe in his doctorate] (in Serbian). N1.
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  89. ^ a b Dragana Jokić Stamenković (16 November 2019). "Žalbe Siniše Malog i advokata ispisane na oko 3.000 stranica" [Complaints by Siniša Mali and his attorney have almost 3,000 pages]. Politika (in Serbian). pp. 1 & 5.
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  91. ^ FoNet (28 October 2019). "Mali: Važno da je potvrđeno da doktorat nije plagijat, znam da sam ga ja pisao" [Mali: It is important that it was confirmed the doctorate is not plagiarism, I know I wrote it] (in Serbian). N1.
  92. ^ Мали: Радим оно у шта верујем, а докторат бих најрадије поцепао [Mali: I do things I believe in, and I would gladly tear the doctorate]. Politika (in Serbian). 12 November 2019. p. 7.
  93. ^ N1 Beograd (4 November 2019). "Jovanović: Profesori da se izjasne o produžetku roka za odluku o doktoratu Malog" [Jovanović: Professors to express their view on the deadline extension regarding decision on Mali's doctorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  94. ^ Dragana Jokić Stamenković (5 November 2019). = Рок за коначну одлуку о докторату Малог продужен због жалби [Deadline for the final decision on Mali's doctorate extended because of the complaints]. Politika (in Serbian).
  95. ^ N1 Beograd (6 November 2019). "Studentkinje: 22. novembar je krajnji rok za Malog, nema više molbi i ustupaka" [Students: 22 November is the final deadline for Mali, no more pleads and concessions] (in Serbian). N1.
  96. ^ Danas (6 November 2019). "Trista profesora podnelo žalbu na odluku FON o doktoratu Malog" [Three hundred professor files complaint against the FOS; decision on the Mali's doctorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  97. ^ Danas, FoNet (12 November 2019). "Još dve žalbe na doktorat Malog" [Two more complaints regarding Mali's doctorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  98. ^ Nikolija Čodanović (15 November 2019). "Siniša Mali se žalio na odluku FON-a" [Siniša Mali complained on the FOS' decision] (in Serbian). CINS.
  99. ^ N1 Beograd, FoNet (21 November 2019). "Odbor preinačio odluku FON-a i jednoglasno utvrdio neakademsko ponašanje Malog" [Board altered the decision of the FOS and unanimously confirmed Mali's non-academic behavior] (in Serbian). N1.
  100. ^ Stefan Veselinović (21 November 2019). "Rektorka: Siniši Malom će biti "poništen doktorat"" [Rector: Siniša Mali's[ doctorate will be declared void] (in Serbian). BBC na srpskom.
  101. ^ Gordana Filipović, Lenka Ponikelska (21 November 2019). "Politicians Are Getting in Trouble Over Fake Qualifications". Bloomberg.
  102. ^ The Associated Press (21 November 2019). "Serbian Minister Faces Calls to Resign After Plagiarism Row". New York Times (in Serbian).
  103. ^ Branislav Šovljanski (21 November 2019). "360 stepeni o odluci Odbora o doktoratu Siniše Malog" [360 degrees on board's decision on Siniša Mali's doctorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  104. ^ "Odbor doneo odluku o doktoratu: Neakademski; Mali: Znam koliko znam i znam da to nisam uradio". B92.net (in Serbian). Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  105. ^ B92 (22 November 2019). "Nisam iznenađen odlukom o doktoratu" [I am not surprised with the doctorate decision] (in Serbian). N1.
  106. ^ Miodrag Sovilj (12 December 2019). "Senat Univerziteta u Beogradu jednoglasno poništio doktorat Siniše Malog" [Senate of the Belgrade University unanimously annulled the doctorate of Siniša Mali] (in Serbian). N1.
  107. ^ N1 (19 July 2018). "Studenti "1 od 5 miliona" održali protest upozorenja ispred Rektorata" [Students from the "1 of 5 millions" movement held a warning protest in front of the Rectorate]. N1 (in Serbian).
  108. ^ a b Miodrag Sovilj (13 September 2019). "Studenti iz "1 od 5 miliona" blokirali Rektorat u Beogradu" [Students from "1 of 5 million" blocked the Rectorate in Belgrade]. N1 (in Serbian).
  109. ^ Beta (14 September 2019). "Studenti "1 od 5 miliona" noć proveli zaključani u zgradi Rektorata" [Students from "1 of 5 million" spent the night locked inside the Rectorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  110. ^ Sajam Ludaka [@BoraKonj] (2 October 2019). "Nije SNS u rektorat poslao one ljude već je to deo studentskog "performansa" režiranog od strane opozicije."..." [SNS didn't send those people in the Rectorate, it is part of the students "performance" directed by the opposition...] (Tweet) (in Serbian) – via Twitter.
  111. ^ FoNet (11 April 2018). "Rektorski kolegijum: Grubo zloupotrebljena otvorenost Rektorata" [Rectors Collegium: Openness of the Recotrate harshly abused] (in Serbian). N1.
  112. ^ Branka Vasiljević, Sandra Gucijan (16 September 2019). Руководство БУ тражи прекид блокаде [BU leadership asks for the blockade to cease]. Politika (in Serbian). pp. 1 & 7.
  113. ^ Marija Komazec (15 September 2019). "Studenti iz "1 od 5 miliona": Rektorka tražila prekid blokade, nećemo odustati" [Students from "1 of 5 million"] (in Serbian). N1.
  114. ^ N1 (16 September 2019). "Teodorović: Rektorka da kaže datum kad će da saopšti stav BU o disertaciji Malog" [Teodorović: Rector to say the date when the Belgrade University will announce its stance on Mali's dissertation] (in Serbian). N1.
  115. ^ Beta, Maja Đurić (21 September 2019). "Protest "1 od 5 miliona" pružio podršku blokadi Rektorata BU" ["1 of 5 million" protest supported the blockade of the University of Belgrade Rectorate] (in Serbian). N1.
  116. ^ a b c Ana Vuković, Jelena Čalija (17 September 2019). Запослени јуче остали испред зграде ректората [Employees left at the door of the Rectorate yesterday]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 7.
  117. ^ Tanjug (23 September 2019). Ректорка осудила улазак активиста Српске напредне странке у Ректорат [Rector condemned entry of the Serbian Progressive Party activists in the Rectorate]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 5.
  118. ^ Студенти и БУ корак ближе договору [Students and Belgrade University one step closer to agreement]. Politika (in Serbian). 24 September 2019. p. 7.
  119. ^ a b c Dragana Jokić Stamenković (25 September 2019). Ректорка оправдава блокаду Ректората [Rector justifies blockade of the Rectorate]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 1 & 7.
  120. ^ a b Одблокиран Ректорат УБ, притисак на ректорку [Rectorate of the Belgrade University unblocked, rector under pressure]. Politika (in Serbian). 26 September 2019. p. 8.
  121. ^ FoNet (24 September 2019). "Studenti vraćaju ključeve Rektorata: Popović ispunila obećano" [Students returned the keys to the Rectorate: Popović honored her promisse] (in Serbian). N1.
  122. ^ N1 (24 September 2019). "Završen sastanak u Rektoratu, studenti čekaju da rektorka ispuni dogovoreno" [Meeting in the Rectorate finished, students wait for the rector do fulfill the promised] (in Serbian). N1].
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  124. ^ N1 (24 September 2019). "Rektorka: Stajem uz svoje studente, spora odluka o doktoratu narušava ugled BU" [Rector: I am standing by my students, slow decision on doctorate damages the reputation of Belgrade University]. N1 (in Serbian).
  125. ^ "Brnabić: Vučić i Merkel imaju iskren i otvoren odnos; Mali je brz i efikasan ministar". www.novosti.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  126. ^ "Brnabić: Vučić i Merkel imaju iskren i otvoren odnos; Mali je brz i efikasan ministar". www.novosti.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  127. ^ "Vučić: Mali ne mora da ima diplomu, može biti ministar i sa osnovnom školom". N1 Srbija (in Serbian). Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  128. ^ FoNet (15 September 2019). "Vučić: Upad u Rektorat izraz nemoći, intervencija policije se neće desiti" [Vučić: Intrusion into the Rectorate is sign of weakness, police intervention will not happen] (in Serbian). N1.
  129. ^ Beta (24 September 2019). "Vučić: Podržavam ljubav rektorke i studenata u blokadi" [Vučić: I support love of rector and students performing blockade] (in Serbian). N1.
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  131. ^ Instagram account of Siniša Mali
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Dušan Vujović
Ana Brnabić (Acting)
Minister of Finance of Serbia
2018–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Dragan Đilas
Mayor of Belgrade
2013–2018
Succeeded by
Andreja Mladenović (Acting)
Zoran Radojičić