Serbian movie star Danijela Stajnfeld has accused a former culture minister and actor Branislav Lecic of rape, in the latest high-profile “Me Too” case to seize the Balkan state.
The 37-year-old actress, who currently lives in the US, first spoke about the incident in a 2020 documentary she made about the trauma caused by sexual violence, but she did not to reveal the identity of the perpetrator at the time.
On Monday, however, she disclosed the politician’s name to the Serbian prosecutor’s office in Belgrade and revealed it publicly in a video interview with the news portal Insajder.
“I was raped by my colleague and a dear friend Branislav Lecic, in May 2012. Four days later we were in a show,” the actress said in the interview .
“I kept saying ‘no’, for as long as I could.”
The prosecutor’s office told AFP they were investigating the allegations, which Lecic has denied.
The 65-year-old, one of Serbia’s most prominent actors, served as culture minister in the early 2000s and is now the leader of an opposition party.
“It is the most heinous lie that discredits me,” Lecic said in a statement, adding that he was “ready to answer to these charges at any given moment”.
Insajder also released audio from a phone conversation that Stajnfeld said she handed to prosecutors, in which she speaks with a man, whose voice appears to be Lecic’s, about the alleged rape.
In the conversation, the man describes the incident as his “way of expressing tenderness”, adding that it was an “honour” to be wanted by him.
“It’s not how it goes. If I say ‘yes’, it’s a ‘yes’,” the man says.
Stajnfeld was one of the first Serbian actresses to openly speak about sexual harassment in the industry, along with her colleague Milena Radulovic, an actress who accused a drama instructor of rape in January.
Radulovic’s story sparked a huge reaction in the region, with thousands of women taking to social media to share experiences of sexual abuse.
At the time, Lecic spoke in support of the victims, which Stajnfeld says was her “tipping point”.
“I realised that it’s no longer a question of what will happen to me if I speak out, but a matter of my social responsibility,” she said.