Friday, October 31, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Harm Reduction

Aleksandra Kolarić (Aleksandra Kolaric), former spokeswoman of Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan), has endorsed her former boss in her new op-ed piece for Again she makes good case for people to go to polls and vote; she says that she shares people's disappointment with his government, but Račan is in her mind the least harmful of all bad choices that await Croatian voters. (Link is in Croatian.)

[ELECTIONS 2003] Debate After All

Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) had quite busy schedule in last 48 hours. Schroeder visited Croatia yesterday (and gave implicit endorsement of his fellow Social Democrats from SDP). His departure was followed by very intense session of SDP Central Committee, during which Party leaders argued who would run as candidate in which electoral district. The session was so heated that Račan reportedly suffered some heart problems.

However, this morning he was well enough to compete with Ivo Sanader on Croatian Radio. The debate was held at 9:00, so I doubt that many Croatians bothered to listen to it.

I was unable to listen, so I can only read transcripts and make conclusions about possible winner or loser. At first glance, nobody came as definite winner. I suspect that Sanader, being more aggressive and having theatre background, could have been clear winner to those who listened.

Importance of Being Riverbend

They say that the imitation is sincerest form of flattery. Riverbend, the most popular of all Iraqi bloggers, had such honour in the form of Riversbend, blog that is identical to her in every detail – except in the content of her entries which indicate author to be someone with political views completely opposite to real Riverbend.

This blatant example of black propaganda (which isn't that hard to figure out, once you pay attention to some detail) has resulted in yet another blog, solely dedicated to finding errors and inconcistencies in fake Riverbend's writings.

I don't think I would ever have to worry about those things. Then again, you could never be too careful. Any time you'll notice Draxblog with entries praising Stephen Daldrey's movies, complaining about too much sex and violence in present-day Hollywood or expressing outrage over the results of Story Supernova Music Talents contest you better check whether the blog address is right one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


Someone told me the very ending of Matrix Revolutions. Before I check up by myself, I must treat this spoiler as nothing more than vicious rumour. On the other hand, the ending described is such that I would really like the story to be true. It is the best way to finalise trilogy.

Energy Drinks

Recently Croatia was entertained by another Church-related scandal. Catechism teacher in one of Croatian elementary schools told children about Procter & Gambe products being used to finance Satanist causes. Catholic Church quickly denied that it had anything to do with it.

I wonder what would happen when new energy drink called Pimp Juice hits Croatian market. It would probably take some time before anyone notices what the word "pimp" really means. By then, violent reactions from Church and feminist organisations would only help the sales.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Why Going to Polls?

Tomislav Klauški (Tomislav Klauski) would probably disagree, but Aleksandra Kolarić (Aleksandra Kolaric) is definitely good journalist. Her op-ed piece for is triumph of simplicity and clarity. Kolarić gives very good argument for even the most sceptic and apolitical Croatian to go to the polls. Whether they care about politics or not, they are affected by it. The polls represent their only chance to affect politics in return. (Link is in Croatian).

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Direct Democracy at Work

Some outside commentators blame many of California's problems to the nasty practice of direct democracy – referendums that turn all kinds of bizarre initiatives into law and result in political gridlock. Then again, direct democracy might be imperfect but it is so far the quickest way for citizens to correct (or try to correct) mistakes of elected officials.

Following the (in)famous gubernatorial recall, another shining example of Californian direct democracy could be found in Los Angeles these days.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Sore Losers

Ratko Maček, HDZ spokeperson, issued official press release, claiming that Sunday's Nedjeljom u 2 phone poll – in which 60% of voters had been against right wing – had been rigged.

HRT answered to those accusation claiming that the phone poll was handled by Hrvatski Telekom, Croatian telecommunication company, and that HRT hadn't got any influence over the poll results.

HDZ anger is, on the other hand, quite understandable. Most of the polls predicting HDZ victory were published in newspapers. This isn't enough to create widespread belief in inevitability of HDZ victory. Most Croatian voters don't read newspapers or magazines. For them HRT is the only source of information, and the only opinion poll they will pay attention to is the one HDZ lost.

[ADMINISTRATIVE] New Addition to Blogroll

Adam Yoshida, one of the more colourful and controversial (to put it mildly) posters of SHWI, has recently started a blog.

Monday, October 27, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] No Debate

Ivo Sanader has offered debate to Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan). Račan has grudgingly accepted, but the debate – which most believe Sanader, as a man with theatre experience, should win – is not going to happen. State Electoral Commission considers such debate, if aired on national television, to be breech of electoral rules that guarantee equal treatment of all political parties. "Equal treatment" means that either all parties should be given airtime to debate with Račan (and everyone else) or none of them, including the strongest, should engage in such one-on-one debates.

The only debates allowed by electoral rules are debates that include all candidates' lists in a single electoral district.

[ADMINISTRATIVE] Changes in Blogroll

Tommy Gehring has decided to quit his Livejournal and make new one, which is not going to be public. Therefore, his Livejournal is taken out of Blogroll.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Thet Moment?

When 11 US soldiers were reported killed in a single day (although in separate incidents) some left-wing American bloggers called it a "Mogadisciu Moment", obviously hoping that US public would drop its support for war in Iraq, and, subsequently, boot Bush out of office in 2004. However, that moment still didn't happen. At least not yet.

But today's bold attack on al Rashid hotel and evacuation of the building that used to symbolise American sway over Iraq might count as "Thet Moment". Just like Viet Cong storming of US Embassy in Saigon 1968 was clearest possible indicator of American inability to crush Vietnamese guerrillas, this attack could prove that Iraq is another Vietnam-like quagmire.

On the other hand, it is still too early to speculate about long-term implications of this event. Unlike 1968 embassy storming, which was accompanied by guerrillas actually engaging in mass-scale offensive, this could be interpreted as single, isolated and "unrepeatable" incident.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Good News For Račan (Racan)

While "official" opinion polls show that his government would have to fight uphill battle to stay in power, one opinion poll conducted today would undoubtedly warm heart of Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and fill his followers with much-needed optimism.

Today's edition u Nedjeljom u 2, Croatian state television talk show hosted by Aleksandar Stanković (Aleksandar Stankovic), hosted Dr. Andrija Hebrang, one of current leaders of HDZ. Hebrang, son of Croatian Communist leader arrested and allegedly murdered by Tito's regime in 1948, enjoys reputation of a more "modern" or "moderate" faces of HDZ. Soft-spoken and physician by trade (and leader of a medical team that prolonged Tudjman's life for at least two years), Hebrang doesn't share the burden of arrogance, corruption and chauvinism that plagues other HDZ leaders. Even his gross incompetence in handling Health Ministry during Tudjman's reign (which brought him nickname "Doctor Mengele" following series of scandalous incidents resulting in patients' deaths) was forgiven during his brief stint as defence minister – position from which he was booted following row with Tudjman's right-hand man Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic), now booted from HDZ and forced to form his own HB party. If HDZ wants to gain elections – or, more precisely, convince HDZ-unfriendly voters that its return to power won't represent national tragedy – it needs more faces like Hebrang.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to listen to the show until the very end, but I saw the results of phone survey which was held during the show. Stanković asked audience whether the right-wing coalition, once in power, was able to improve conditions in Croatia. 60% of voters said "no" and 40 % said "yes".

Of course, this phone survey doesn't carry the same weight with "official" opinion polls, but it nevertheless reflects majority of Croatian opinion. Most Croatians don't believe that the very same crowd that had ruined Croatia in its first decade of independence is able to improve their lives. The only problem is that the sentiment extends to the present government, and rightly so.

On a related note, results of phone survey are even more devastating for HDZ when compared with last week's show in which the guest was Zlatko Canjuga, former Tudjman's advisor, part-time talk-show host and one of the most despised public personalities in Croatia. Despite Stanković's relentless (and rather unneeded) attempts to remind audience of Canjuga's role in some of the most shameful episodes of Tudjman's reign, Canjuga won the similar phone survey with 53 % to 47 %.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Thinking the Unthinkable – Croatia Back Under Tudjmanist Yoke

Unlike Račan (Racan), Feral Tribune has always taken possibility of HDZ returning to power seriously, and today they are expecting that outcome with combination of fear and hope. They fear that they might get same rough treatment they got under Tudjman – secret police surveillance, pornography taxes, threats etc. In the same time they hope that they would regain sense of purpose they lost with Tudjman's death and new government which (at least nominally) shared their ideological leanings.

Last issue of Feral Tribune has made mini-survey of Croatian sociologists, NGO activists and political scholars, all asking them a single question – what awaits Croatia if HDZ returns to power?

Most of the people surveyed answered that the things are either going to stay the same or get somewhat worse.

I don't agree with them. They show the very same snobbish blindness that led many German intellectuals to view Hitler's cabinet as "just another right-wing government". HDZ might have different image under "modern European right-winger" Sanader, but its Tudjmanist ideology is unchanged, and rank-and-file od HDZ is still full of people who took "modern European" ideas about democracy, tolerance, human rights etc. with same levels of sincerity as those who had pursued policy of ethnic cleansing, state-controled media etc.

The only good thing about today's HDZ is its relative weakness in comparison with Tudjman's – they would have to share power with other right-wing parties and Sanader has looser grip over regional bosses than Tudjman had. Just like Račan's (Racan's), HDZ government is going to be more preoccupied with its own factional struggles than pursuit of any coherent policy.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Billboard Wars

Weeks before the campaign has officially started, billboards were begun to be covered with political parties' propaganda posters.

Libra started by using its "Answer to All Important Questions" radio/TV commercial and putting faces of their leaders Jozo Radoš (Jozo Rados) and Goran Granić (Goran Granic) to remind voters of their party's mere existence. This poster turned into major fiasco after Granić announced his spectacular retirement from politics, enraged by Sabor legislation which was too anti-Hague for his liking (Croatian government is now forced to give any top secret documents to lawyers representing Croatian policemen and soldiers accused of war crimes).

LS, another nominal liberal party, is using "100% Liberal" slogan as the only meaningful content on their poster. This is mistake. Average voters cares very little of ideology, which is understandable, because political platforms of majority of Croatian parties look like carbon copies of each other. Using Ivo Banac's face would have been more effective – in snobbish intellectual circles he had something of a charisma of Račan's (Racan's) government's most eloquent and effective critic from the left.

HNS are, on the other hand, showing off with series of expensive but different posters (few parties can afford more than few different posters), promising all kinds of nice things when Croatia becomes member of EU. This might bight them in the back, just as their "200,000 new jobs" 2000 pre-election promise plagued them in past three years.

HSS has the worst possible of all posters – slogan "I Love My Country" is accompanied by the photo of young male fashion model in white sweater passionately stroking tree. You don't have to enjoy finding hidden homosexual contents in popular media to find particular irony in this – of all parties that have opposed gay rights legislation HSS was the most explicit. It wouldn't surprise me to find that the designer hired to create HSS poster is one of the "brothers" who used this opportunity to strike at "homophobic oppressors".

HDZ, on the other hand, waited with their posters. Their absence, however, only pointed towards anonymous posters with pictures of Pinnochio and present government's various unfulfilled 2000 election promises (lower petrol prices, lower foreign debts, new jobs etc.). It doesn't take genius to figure out that HDZ is behind this. And this is hardly surprising – HDZ strategists know that they can't win any votes and that they don't have any meaningful political platform. On the other hand, they have stable core of voters and the idea is simply to discourage government's voters with negative campaigning.

SDP, to a lesser degree, also has stable core of voters, so they, despite their pledge not to engage into negative campaigning (and official poster with "Yes! For Croatia" slogan) also took the effort of reminding people that HDZ getting back in power would be bad thing. Slobodna Dalmacija is equipped with flyers comparing 1999 newspaper headlines (unemployment, corruption, secret police stalking opposition parties) with those of today (new roads, thriving tourism season etc.).

Views and Comments

Enetation comments service seems to be (temporarily, I hope) down, so I have to answer one of the comments directly.

One reader wanted to make a comment about Wesley Clark, but he needed to know whether this blog was pro-Serb, pro-Albanian or pro-anything before making it.

The answer to that question is very simple. It doesn't matter.

If someone disagrees with some of my views he is free to make this disagreement known – all within the reasonable limits of Netiquette and good taste. Otherwise, I would be forced to write megabytes of text with detailed explanations of my views on any subject imaginable, ranging from war in Iraq to Britney Spears' fashion choices.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Deadlock in the Making?

Results of new nation-wide poll, this time conducted by Media Metar polling agency in the past week, were published in Jutarnji list today. They show remarkably similar results with IRI – right-wing parties (HDZ, HSP, HSLS-DC) having slight edge over parties of "left-centre" governing coalition (SDP, HSS, HNS). Sanader's allies would win 72 seats, while Račan's (Racan's) coalition would win 68. Again, ethnic minority and diaspora MSes complicate matters – 3 "diaspora" seats are most probably going to end in Sanader's, while ethnic minority seats would go for Račan. This would result in Račan losing elections yet keeping single seat majority in Sabor.

Judging by the recent experiences, any future Croatian cabinet – whether chaired by Račan or Sanader – is going to be incredibly unstable. Davor Butković's (Davor Butkovic's) article in Jutarnji list is already offering good solution – HSS, being a conservative right-wing party, would join ranks with their ideological brethren and thus spare Croatia from gridlock. In exchange, HDZ would support HSS chairman and former Sabor speaker in its 2005 presidential bid.

Oligarkhs and "tajkuns"

Unlike Račan's (Racan), Putin takes elections and potential dangers for his reign seriously. In order to thwart "oligarkh" challenge and pander to Soviet-era egalitarian sentiments of impoverished Russian masses, he authorised spectacular arrest of Russia's richest man.

This is something Račan would never do. Decisive moves, whether right or wrong, always represented unacceptable risks for him.

Friday, October 24, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] New Election Link

Link that served Croatian political pundits very well during 2000 elections is back on-line. Sadly, no English content is available.

Death of Concorde – Victory for the Bad Guys

Today is the day Concorde made trans-Atlantic flight for the very last time. All commentators contribute initial failure of Concorde to oil crisis, environmentalist pressure and claim that the final blow was struck by Osama bin Laden on September 11th 2001.

Needless to say, apart from environmentalists and leftists who hated class distinctions in world's air travel symbolised by Concorde, the only people who would rejoice today are Islamic fundamentalists. One of West's greatest technological achievements – ability to fly over Atlantic in three and half hours – is not going to be part of everyday life. Just like the emptiness in New York's skyline, this sad fact is going to be constant reminder of Osama bin Laden's greatest achievement.

Death of Concorde occurred in the same year with with Columbia disaster. Some may claim that the mankind is being banished from sky. Needless to say, General Boykin wouldn't be the only one who would see some form of divine intervention in current events.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

[ADMINISTRATIVE] Addition to Blogroll

Blogging is going to be light in next few days.

Bjřrn Stćrk added to blogroll.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Another One Who Got Away

What was mere (and usually seen as malevolent and unsound) speculation during his life turned out to be truth after his death – Alija Izetbegović (Alija Izetbegovic) was under ICTY investigation for war crimes.

Of course, ICTY prosecutors never bothered to make this fact known until Izetbegović died, thus sparing them from another public relations nightmare and plenty of political complications.

This comes as nothing new for Croatians, who have heard similar story about Franjo Tudjman.

Renaming History

Senior member of European investment bank has suggested that London changes name of Waterloo Station, because it might be "too offensive" for French and therefore impeding European integration. If the same principle is applied in the rest of Europe, all national history textbooks should be purged of every event that happened before few years ago; every manifestation that celebrates some ancient historic battle must be cancelled; Asterix comic books must be banned because they might be too offensive towards Italians etc. (Via Harry's Place.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] First Poll Irregularities

Every election in recent Croatian history was marked by accusations of poll irregularities – deliberately incomplete registration, breeches of pre-election silence and classic vote fraud (usually in favour of ruling HDZ party). 2003 elections are probably not going to be exception.

The first major poll irregularity, however, doesn't have much to do with electoral process by itself. HTNet, top Croatian ISP, is running its own on-line opinion poll. However, some of the poll results seemed too suspicious to Nebojša Taraba (Nebojsa Taraba), HTNet news editor. He decided to suspend the poll, claiming that 63% of the vote for HB-HIP coalition is "not realistic" and that it all points to some kind of vote fraud – stuffing the poll with HB-HIP votes from multiple accounts. "5 % or 9 % were within realistic limits", claimed Taraba.

Of course, representatives of HB and HIP didn't like it and decided to use that affair to remind Croatian public of their very existence. They claim that the poll is genuine and that mere fact that they get 63 % there (while barely scratching 1-2 % in "regular" media polls) is not reason for the poll to be scuttled.

Some would argue that on-line poll manipulation, if it is indeed the work of HB and HIP, shows the despair of those parties. On the other hand, on-line polls are even less reliable than "regular" polls (that often have very little to do with the actual popularity of certain politicians and their parties). On-line polls, unlike "regular", depend on people who: a) can afford PC and Internet connection; b) educated enough to use them properly; c) care enough about cesspool of Croatian politics to take part in such on-line surveys; d) take those on-line surveys seriously. Majority of Croatian voters don't fulfil such requirements and this is the reason why I think that HTNet poll results might be genuine, albeit with little or no relation to the actual election result.

Swiss Shift To Right

Swiss might be right in their decision to stay out of EU, just as they were right to stay out of world wars. However, in today's globalised and media-connected world some trends are harder to stop on national borders than global conflicts. That includes politics, and one of more noticeable (and disturbing) trends of European politics is rise of far right parties. Now it seems that Switzerland too has succumbed to that trend.

Monday, October 20, 2003

More About Izetbegović (Izetbegovic) Legacy

According to Croatian media reports, death of Bosnian president has just re-opened old wounds and showed that Croatia's neighbour is still divided on ethnic lines. While no official day of mourning was announced, television stations in (Muslim-Croat) Federation, namely those in areas with Muslim majority, cancelled all entertainment programme and started airing classic music. Television stations in Republic of Srpska, on the other hand, have put pensioners' protests as the main news of the day.

It Takes One To Know One

Alija Izetbegović (Alija Izetbegovic) was great human being, statesman and person of great integrity and courage, says Wesley Clark, according to Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz. Clark also tells Bosnian people that they should be forever thankful to Izetbegović for what he had done to them.

This is another reason why I would start rooting for Bush if Clark wins Democratic nomination. Idea that the leader of mightiest country on world would take Izetbegović for his role model is in my mind associated with visions of horror beyond description.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

LA Crix Nix Pix Prix

One of the most inventive headlines hides another reason why most of those who love Seventh Art have to make great effort to find any kind word about MPAA.

Another Piece of History Gone

Alija Izetbegović (Alija Izetbegovic) is dead.

The only good thing I can say of his handling of Bosnia in early 1990s is that things could have gone much worse than they did. On the other hand, if they went better than it could have gone, Izetbegović should take very little credit for that.

I don't doubt that his passing would be lamented by some well-meaning but uninformed observers who still took his loud proclamations of civic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, tolerant and unitary Bosnia seriously. Those who object putting Izetbegović in the same basket with other two member of Magic Trio – Milošević (Milosevic) and Tudhman – might have a point; Izetbegović did much less damage, but it was more due to lack of resources and basic political skills rather than some noble principles.


Design of the blog is slightly changed.

Harry's Place added to blogroll.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Public Disgrace of Public Television

On last two Fridays HRT, Croatian state television has aired The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. Yesterday Godfather III was supposed to be aired. However, announcing Godfather III as "masterpiece" wasn't the most embarrassing thing HRT did with that film.

All those who had bought video-cassettes or re-scheduled their lives in order to watch Coppola's "masterpiece" had another thing coming. Completely different film was aired in the same slot.

Explanation came in today's newspapers. It turns out that first two Godfather films were aired some time after Croatian state television's broadcasting rights had been expired. When Paramount executives found out about that, they promptly contacted HRT and demanded the Godfather III to be taken off the air.

It is rumoured that Nova TV, that had purchased Godfather trilogy broadcasting rights independently, leaked the information about illegal HRT broadcasts to Paramount.

It Takes One to Fight One?

It seems that US Army Lt. Gen William "Jerry" Boykin, new deputy undersecretary of defence in charge of fighting Muslim fundamentalist terrorists, is apparently Christian fundamentalist who sees War On Terror as some sort of struggle between "his God, who is "stronger" and "their" God - Satan.

Some, like Nick Barlow, are scared. Some, like Kevin Drum, are questioning US Administration's sanity in having one such individual running politically most sensitive military operations.

I'm not surprised. World's militaries tend to have personnel composed of people with more conservative views than general population. USA isn't exception – average US military professional is going to be more right-wing and religious than average US citizen. And when USA has population that is more right-wing and religious than other Western nations, it is quite normal for American military officials to look like fundamentalist loons.

Here in Croatia you would have to look very hard for high-ranking members of military establishment who don't have similar views.

Friday, October 17, 2003

200 Square Metres of Shame

Sabor has just dissolved itself, thus paving the way for President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) to call for new elections. One of this Sabor's last pieces of legislation is a law that banned grocery shops from working on Sundays. The law is culmination of year-long campaign led by Church and labour unions; while Church considered Sunday work to be offending to Christian sentiments of Croatian citizens, labour unions were up in arms over grocery shop owners' refusal to pay holiday bonuses for Sunday work. However, the fine print in the act tells that Sabor majority motives were not exactly religious or humanitarian. Namely, there are some grocery shops that are excluded from this act – 1 shop per 5000 inhabitants must stay open on Sunday, and that shop must have less than 200 square metres of areas.

The act is going to hit big supermarkets – owned mostly by Slovenian firms – the hardest and it should benefit small mom-and-pop stores in Croatia, that hardly ever exceed 200 square metres of shopping area. However, Croatia prides itself in having their own chain of small grocery shops – Konzum, owned by Ivica Todorić (Ivica Todoric), "tajkun" ("oligarkh" in Russian) who got rich during Tudjman and continued to get rich during Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan). Needless to say, Todorić was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the new legislation.

Of course, this new law is going to lead to massive lay-offs in Croatian supermarket chains, massive gridlocks on Saturday afternoons and evenings and whole new world of trouble in small, isolated parts of Croatia with low population density (and where 1 shop on 5000 inhabitants covers hundreds of square kilometres of territory).

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Black Adder of Balkans

When Black Adder first appeared on former Yugoslav television(s) in late 1980s, many wondered whether anyone in this part of the world would dare to give similar treatment to local historical icons.

More than a decade and few wars later, Serbian BK television decided to make this bold step with Crni Gruja, sitcom set in Serbia 1803, a year before famous rebellion against Ottomans. The protagonist, corrupt local chieftain Crni Gruja (whose name is similar to Crna Guja, Serbo-Croatian translation of Black Adder) is going to be played by Sergej Trifunović (Sergej Trifunovic), one of the most talented Serbian actors of younger generation.

Biological Enemies of Croatia

This story is a bit old, but worth reading, at least to those who are fortunate enough not to live in Croatia and thus unfamiliar with some of its realities.

On July 30th Gospić County Court sentenced Svetozar Karan, ethnic Serb, to 13 years of prison for war crimes committed during 1991-95 hostilities. Such, relatively harsh, sentences are quite common for ethnic Serbs found guilty for war crimes. Most of such sentenced were brought in absentia, which is hardly surprising, because those ethnic Serbs involved in war crimes were beyond the reach of Croatian judiciary, having fled "Krajina" before 1995 offensive in "Krajina" and 1998 takeover of Eastern Slavonia.

Svetozar Karan, however, was among those who either didn't consider himself to be war criminal or thought that there isn't sufficient evidence against him. In 2000 he, just like many of his fellow Serbs, returned to Croatia. In 2002 he was arrested and brought to trial, being accused of mistreating Croatian POWs while in uniform of "Krajina" Serb paramilitaries.

Croatian public was informed about the verdict only in September when Jutarnji list daily bothered to publish excrepts from it, namely Judge Branko Milinović's (Branko Milinovic's) commentary. In it Milinović dealt with the very fact that Karan actually bothered to return to Croatia. According to Milinović, "the accused discovered that Croatia is bad geo-political situation, that the Croatians are divided and in danger of losing their freedom and having foreign masters, just like they did in last 900 years; 80 of those years they were ruled by the people to whom the accused belonged, and those same people have co-operated with Ottomans when they had conquered large sections of Croatia 500 years ago; by returning to Croatia the accused returned to Croatia in order to receive reward for his role in destruction of Croatia, knowing that economically exhausted Croatia is danger of letting other people becoming their masters."

This is not Protocols of Zion Elders. This is not Mein Kampf. This is the judicial document of the country that considers itself part of enlightened, Western Europe – country which is supposed to judge people on anything but their gender, race, religion or ethnicity. In this case, the ethnicity of the accused was explicitly used as justification for the verdict, and justification itself is nothing less than racialist theories being put in practice.

Naturally, at least some Croatian commentators were up in arms over it. But Gospić County Court is only the tzip of an iceberg – Croatian judiciary is full of people who hold those chauvinistic views and are more than willing to apply them in their practice. They do it less overtly, unlike Gospić judges who got carried away by anger over Norac affair and prospect of Tudjmanist return to power.

To make things even worse, bigotry is huge problem of Croatian judiciary, but it isn't the worst. Even those "pure" Croatians who can pride themselves of not having a drop of Serb blood in their veins have little reasons to be satisfied with the institution that didn't recover from the disastrous effects of Tudjman's purges in early 1990s. Old, experienced Communist-era professionals were replaced by legions of completely unqualified but politically loyal judicial hacks, resulting in gross inefficiency and even the simplest lawsuits imaginable lasting for more than a decade.

Račan's (Racan's) government had the opportunity to do something about it but it failed; and its effort to bring Croatia into EU now suffers because of it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Chinese in Space

This day would enter history books as one of the more important in the history of space exploration. Chinese have sent a man in orbit, thus breaking more than four decades of Russo-American monopoly in these activities. And Chinese aren't supposed to stop there – they would build their own space station, send man on Moon and even establish permanent Moon base.

This pretty much sums all the stuff Clarke and other over-optimistic visionaries predicted for early 21st Century. But the Chinese – not Soviets or Americans – are going to do it.

If this isn't the start of another space race, I don't know what it is.

Interestingly enough, world media is playing down this story. Especially American media, who don't like to remind Americans how they lost ability to send people into space.

Another European Dream

While Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) can consider his European dream more or less unreachable, at least in short term, other Croatians are more fortunate in that department. Those include Hajduk fans, who have just seen their team securing 2nd round of UEFA Cup, following 0-0 game with Grasshopper at Poljud Stadium (Hajduk qualified due to away goals rule, having 1-1 in first leg played in Switzerland).

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Old Values & Modern Media

Croatian media often give impression that this country is liberal-minded, "progressive", liberated etc. when it comes to sex-related issues. Each and every 18-year old celebrity – model, actor, talk show host or athlete – shows incredible willingness to discuss the most intimate details of their love life in interviews, almost always telling that he/she is not a virgin any more. The reasoning behind this is that such brutal frankness would discourage obsessive stalkers (people who have over-idealised vision of their celebrities) and sleazy tabloid journalists. But every now and then some incidents show that deep down Croatia is conservative country devoted to old-fashioned values.

A week ago one of the biggest crime stories for Slobodna Dalmacija was the case of Biljana Barbir, 26-year old waitress from Virovitica. On October 4th she was abducted in Primošten (Primosten), small resort town near Šibenik (Sibenik) by Marko Radovčić (Marko Radovcic), 21-year old pizza man from Šibenik (Sibenik). The abduction, which had taken place in front of witnesses, was in most likelihood escalation of stalking obsession Radovčić had developed for Barbir.

Thankfully, this story had a happy ending – Barbir managed to escape and Radovčić surrendered to police soon afterwards. But the most interesting thing occurred when Barbir gave statement to Slobodna Dalmacija. In it she claimed that she hadn't been raped by Radovčić, and that she was actually virgin. Her family corroborated her claims, citing results of medical tests. To make additional point, Miss Barbir posed to Slobodna Dalmacija photographer from her hospital bed. In essence, she all but advertised her virginity, and for her being 26-year old virgin obviously was something to be proud of.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Gotovina Cruising?

Carla del Ponte says that she knows that Gotovina happens to hide on a yacht in Adriatic. She also claims that she knows who the owner of the yacht is.

Good News for History Buffs

British Pathe has put its newsreel archive on the web.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Dead Men's Poll

Today in Nedjeljom u 2, Croatian state television talk show, host Aleksandar Stanković (Aleksandar Stankovic) presented one question to be answered by viewers via phone poll – "Who is more important historical personality, Tudjman or Tito?".

Tito beating his pupil by 66 % was hardly unexpected result, because Latinica, another Croatian state television talk show, issued the same question and got same result few years ago. Croatian right-wingers and Tudjman worshippers are going to be upset with this nevertheless. Despite Tito's followers having their numbers diminished through biology, Tudjman's followers still didn't manage to create majority among pensioners – the demography most likely to waste their time on such phone polls. Since pensioners tend to be the most likely pool of voters, this phone poll would be something quite comforting to Račan (Racan) who had mostly bad news in polls last week.

2500th Hit

This blog is getting more popular with time. According to Bravenet counter, two months had to pass before 1000th hit. Next 1500 hits occurred in roughly the same amount of time, so I can estimate that this blog has 40-45 % more readership than in early August.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

[ADMINISTRATIVE] Blogroll Changes

Added three Croatian blogs: Lovefool, Ruralna Gorila and iagainsti. Georgy Russel's campaign blog was removed.

[ELECTIONS 2003] Minority Government?

Details about famous IRI opinion poll are slowly trickling in, and government-controlled or government-friendly media had to spend few days before admitting that, according to the results, Račan (Racan) won't be new prime minister. Right wing opposition parties (HDZ, HSLS-DC and HSP) together can field 42% of the votes, while parties of governing coalition can expect 37 % of the votes.

However, this still leaves 21% of the votes being cast (or wasted, to be more precise) on small parties with little or no chance of entering Sabor. Some of mall parties actually might get in Sabor by breaking 5% ceiling in individual electoral districts and some of parties that can expect 5 % on national level wouldn't win seats in some districts. IRI poll, however, took electoral districts into consideration and, according to estimates, right-wing opposition can expect 71 seat to government's 66.

Ivo Sanader, however, still has some work to do, because those 71 seats is far from clear majority. Major snag is at least 2-3 seats reserved for "Croatian diaspora" (Croatian citizens living abroad) and 8 seats reserved for ethnic minorities. While HDZ can expect seats from Tudjman-worshipping emigrants (whose description of Račan's government often give impression that Communist Yugoslavia never ceased to exist), ethnic minorities are more comfortable with Račan, who is, at least verbally, less chauvinistic than Tudjmanists.

When all is said and done, IRI poll points to incredibly tight election race, which would be won or lost by couple of percentages or couple of seats; Račan (Racan), even with such numbers, could hope to regain power with the help of ethnic minority MSes (Serbs, Italians, Czechs etc.). And the gridlock – both sides having exactly the same number of MSes – isn't out of question, which might lead to something that the more cynical observers of Croatian politics had expected all along – grand coalition between HDZ and SDP.

Interestingly enough, despite the numbers that indicate tight race, the electorate seems disinterested for the elections and the election campaign, despite its official start, is pale and boring compared with previous ones.

Nobel Shock

Shirin Ebadi winning Nobel Peace Prize is big news, but the bigger news is the fact that John Paul II lost it. In Croatian media rumours and speculations about His Holiness winning this year were considered more than reliable and they made perfect sense because of Pope's bad health. This easily be the last opportunity for John Paul II to receive such prestigious award.

Many in Croatia, especially those with right-wing views, would probably share Lech Walesa's feelings about this whole affair.

I think that Nobel Committee, given the choice between Ebadi and Pope, made the right decision. Ebadi's prize would actually boost reformist, liberal and progressive forces in Iran and thus directly contribute to the world peace. On the other hand, Nobel Peace Prize in hands of John Paul II is nothing more than matter of diplomatic courtesy.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Croatia's Most Wanted Becomes One of the America's Most Wanted

Croatia has reasons to be proud today – one of their favourite sons is in the same league with the likes of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Radovan Karadžić (Radovan Karadzic) and Ratko Mladić (Ratko Mladic). Since Croatian government and ICTY prosecutors can't come to mutual understanding about whereabouts of General Ante Gotovina, war crime suspect and country's best known and most popular fugitive, US government intervened by offering 5 million US$ reward to anyone offering that particular information.

That sum equals the reward offered for Karadžić and Mladić, and is 1/5 of the reward offered for Saddam Hussein. It is almost 100 times more than the reward offered by Croatian government and counter-reward offered by HB (for the information about the man who betrayed Gotovina).

With this reward, US government has crushed all Račan's (Racan's) hopes of Gotovina affair ending with some sort of face-saving compromise (which was often floated in Croatian media, especially in Nacional, which recently turned into Gotovina fanzine). Račan could see the writing on the wall after UN Security Council resolution that had put Gotovina's name in the same batch with Karadžić and Mladić, ordering all governments to do their utmost to bring those war crimes suspects to justice. Račan's diplomatic abilities, that had served him well during Norac and Bobetko affair, have failed him now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Heating Up

Opinion polls conducted by IRI poll are generally more reliable than phone surveys conducted by Croatian weekly magazines. The latest one, published today, would make Sanader very happy, because right-wing parties enjoy bigger support than according to Nacional and Globus surveys.

According to this one, conducted by professional pollsters on 4000 voters sample, HDZ can expect 28 % (5 % more than during the last such survey few months ago), SDP can expect 18 % (+2%), HSS 11 % (+2 %), HSLS-DC 9 %, HNS 8 % (-1 %) and HSP 5%.

The more interesting (and more troubling for current government) thing about this poll is possibility of big turnout – 75 % of the surveyed announced that they would vote. Number of undecided has dropped from 22% to 9 %.

The only political party to comment on this results is HSS, whose chairman (and Sabor speaker) Zlatko Tomčić (Zlatko Tomcic) expressed satisfaction. Tomčić claims that his party would win seats in all of 10 electoral districts.

First in California, First in Split

Top 10 movies in Split theatres between August 21st and September 21st 2003 (number of tickets sold), according to data published in Hollywood magazine:

1) Terminator 3 (6362)
2) Lara Croft: Cradle of Life (3703)
3) Hours (2907)
4) Bruce Almighty (1490)
5) Sinbad (800)
6) Hollywood Homicide (313)
7) Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle (219)
8) Dady Day Care (216)
9) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (167)
10) Frida (105)

Apparently, taste of Split movie-goers corresponds with political sentiments of Californians.

Happy Independence Day!

Finally, Croatian people are celebrating the proper national holiday. Although, it may be our last if HDZ wins elections.

That, however, is far from certain, at least according to Globus phone survey. The results match similar Nacional survey conducted earlier – HDZ with strongest delegation in Sabor and far short of majority. Then again, phone surveys tend to overemphasise importance of urban and well-educated voters. But those mundane little worries shouldn't prevent Croatians from celebrating their hard-won national freedom and extra day off in October.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Death of European Dream

While Račan's (Racan's) government failed to make some palpable improvement over Tudjman's regime in the domestic policy areas, Croatian diplomatic position vastly improved and Račan was right when he claimed that Croatia was well on its way to become full-fledged member of NATO and EU.

However, his foreign policy successes recently turned into dismal failures. The unwillingness to confront Tudjman's brand of Croatian nationalism – the very basis of Račan's policy before and after 2000 elections – has plagued first his domestic reforms, then poisoned initially warm relations with foreign countries. The end of long honeymoon was, paradoxically, result of Račan's success in handling Hague Tribunal, the very bogeyman that had mobilised Račan's enemies from Croatian far right. Two of Croatia's best known (and, consequently, most popular) war crimes suspects remained outside Hague courtroom, partly through the good work of Račan's diplomacy – General Norac was tried and sentenced in Croatian court and General Bobetko was allowed to die before being shipped in Hague. But the third general, Gotovina, continues to poison relations between Hague, EU bureaucrats and Croatian politicians. Gotovina's decision to evade prosecution and Croatian government unwillingness to do something about is getting increasingly insulting not only to Carla del Ponte, but also to many European diplomats who used to champion Croatia's cause.

The decision to create marine conservation zone in Adriatic – cheap attempt to pander to nationalist sentiments at the eve of elections (although not radical enough for Croatian right, even such "moderates" as Sanader's HDZ) – also proved to be counterproductive. By proclaiming marine conservation zone Croatia chose confrontation with Slovenia and Italy, two member countries of EU. Slovenia already threatened that it would retaliate by blocking Croatian entry in EU.

Račan's grand plan of entering EU by 2007 (together with Bulgaria and Rumania) seems to be shattered. In most likelihood, Croatia would enter EU together with its eastern neighbours. For most Croatian nationalist, Croatia in EU that includes Serbia is nightmare instead of a dream.

Monday, October 06, 2003

More Reasons For Respecting Schwarzenegger

Do you honestly think that Ben Affleck is not going to earn millions of dollars per picture, even if this allegation turns out to be true? Or even if this results in guilty verdict?

Bad Europeans

Ljubomir Čučić (Ljubomir Cucic), former Croatian ambassador to Belgium and former general secretary of Croatian European Movement, has been arrested while entering Croatia with his 3-year old daughter. Čučić, one of Croatia's most respected diplomats, who used to embody everything average Croatian snob thinks of Europe, became tabloid fodder after nasty revelations coming from his wife Magali Boers-Čučić (Magali Boers-Cucic). In short, Čučić was wife-beater and the scandal resulted in his removal from European Movement leadership, as well as his daughters being put in his wife's custody. Čučić failed to obey the administrative order and there was great concern for the little girl's well-being. Soon after the arrest the daughter was brought to Mrs. Boers-Čučić and her husband released from police custody soon afterwards.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Napoleon (2002)

I watched first part of Napoleon, French mini-series with Christian Clavier in title role. So far I'm not particularly impressed nor particularly disappointed – except, perhaps, in John Malkovich being not particularly convincing Talleyrand due to poor French dubbing. But when it comes to accuracy, Napoleon beats most of Hollywood's efforts by wide margin. The only source of controversy is perhaps the choices authors had to made – even the mini-series longer than Napoleon's 6 hours could hardly do the justice to one of the most remarkable historical personalities. Yet, I still think that they could secure at least couple of shots or lines of dialogue describing Ulm 1805 – Napoleon's greatest military victory. Then again, that victory is mostly ignored in history books (and movies) because it was won with hardly any shot being fired.

I just hope that they would bother to show Leipzig – Napoleon's worst defeat (also utterly ignored) – in the second part.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

A Band of Brothers

It seems that Serbs and Croats would again fight shoulder to shoulder against their common Muslim enemy. Ten years after Bosnian Croat militia and Mladić's (Mladic's) forces co-operated against Izetbegović's (Izetbegovic's) government, Serbian military forces are most likely to participate in Afghanistan peacekeeping operation and thus join many other nation, including Croatia, that had sent a military police platoon in Kabul.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Why I Respect Schwarzenegger More Than I Did Yesterday

If an average male has to choose between movie actor and political career, most would opt for the former. Most of those who are rational, that is.

If you are movie actor, you can reach the top of your career early on, in your teens or 20ies, and remain there for decades. If you happen to be career politician, your can remain on top (White House) not more than eight years.

If you are movie actor, you can earn millions of dollars and remain on top regardless of your movies turning into flops. If you stumble in politics once, you can hardly reach top again.

If you are movie actor, you can be worshipped by billions of people all over the world. If you are career politician in America, at least 30 % of people would hate your guts because of your party affiliation.

If you are movie actor, your security problems consist paparazzi and handful of psychotic individuals. If you are career politicians, you must think about thousands, if not millions of people, willing to blow you away simply to make some obscure political point.

If you are movie actor, you are expected to drink yourself silly, change girlfriends like you change socks, go into fisfights, spend months in rehab, abuse your spouses/SOs, shoot guns in night clubs etc. – all that with media treating all those incidents as normal part of celebrity lifestyle. If you are career politician, each and every piece of dirt from your past becomes national issue.

Schwarzenegger knew all this when he got into the recall race. If he chose to remain nothing more than a movie actor, all those groping and Nazi allegations would have remained footnotes in third-rate tabloids. He could have maintained successful and secure career of a Hollywood entertainer. But he chose to sacrifice all that for something he believed in.

Regardless of the accusations, and regardless what he does when he goes to Sacramento, he has might utmost respect.

TV Story

TV Story is new magazine on Croatian kiosks. It is designed as the most comprehensive weekly TV guide, but its first issue could also be read as a pamphlet against Croatian state television. This is hardly surprising, since Story magazine happened to be part of Story Supernova production on Nova TV.

TV Story, of course, didn't publish any story about Josip Katalenić (Josip Katalenic), recently booted from Story Supernova Juniors because of his alleged abusive treatment of young contestants.

Isabella Update

Those who still follow Isabella story may find Esquire article about her here.

Ethical Standards of Croatian Media

Sunčica Findak (Suncica Findak) affair proved to be another litmus test of Croatian journalism. Intimate pictures taken by her former lover, Tudjman-era deputy education minister Miroslav Dorešić (Miroslav Doresic) were more intimate than I originally thought. I had the opportunity to compare the pictures with my expectations thanks to the article in "serious" Nacional which used material published in Imperijal, Croatian tabloid which gained much infamy during 1990s. Globus, while reporting of the affair, didn't use those pictures for illustration and actually expressed its disgust with the practice.

Prudishness and care for someone's privacy and dignity are something new for Croatian journalists, who had somewhat different standards in case of Goran Bregović (Goran Bregovic) ten years ago. Famous musician, who used to be biggest rock star in former Yugoslavia, left Sarajevo before the start of siege which was enough for Bosnian patriots to view him as a traitor. They invaded his home and found plenty of videotapes showing Bregović in very intimate situations with certain ladies. Photographs from those tapes (with strategic spots covered by black space) were published in Nedjeljna Dalmacija, one of supposedly more serious Croatian weeklies at the time.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] New Realism

Two Croatian weeklies are bringing two opposite, yet very realistic appraisals of the elections prospects for Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and Ivo Sanader.

Nacional brought results of its first major opinion poll, and its conclusion is that SDP and its partners can expect comfortable victory, even with HDZ beating SDP in 3 out 10 electoral districts. According to Nacional HDZ would win 55 seats and SDP 46. However, SDP allies – HSS, HNS, PGS (Primorsko-Goranska regionalist party) and SBHS (Slavonian regionalist party) would win 29 seats and thus secure Račan's majority. Sanader's key partners – HSLS-DC would win only 5 seats, while HSP would win also 5.

Darko Hudelist in Globus writes about SDP being in state of panic due to "totally unexpected" coalition between HSLS-DC which completely shattered Račan's strategy and forced him to improvise some countermeasures. Hudelist believes that the key of election would be turnout – everything over 70% would secure SDP victory; HDZ voters are traditionally more disciplined. Another important factor is HSS – if that party fares better than HSLS-DC, than Račan has chances.

Both articles are right (although Nacional poll, conducted by 2 journalists, instead of polling agency, is not that reliable). HDZ would be strongest party and it would win in most of electoral districts; SDP is indeed forced to improvise new strategy because of HSLS-DC; SDP has better coalition partners than HDZ; it would depend on turnout.

The only thing that both articles are forgetting or ignoring is ability of Croatian right to make few upsets by having at least 1 or 2 seats snatched by HB or HIP. But since those seats are going to be taken from right voting pool, it wouldn't affect the general balance of Sabor very much.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Barbarians Through the Gates

Slobodna Dalmacija has adapted to decreasing literacy level of its readership and full-page articles are rare these days. So, when one such article appears, this deserves at least a mention in this blog today's edition the article, written by Zlatko Gall, famous Split rock critic, dealt with latest production of popular musical Karolina Riječka (Karolina Rijecka), currently at stage of Ivan pl. Zajc Theatre in Rijeka.

The production caught a great media attention in Croatia due to its star performer Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic), singer (affectionately known among her fans as Seve, Severina Nazionale or simply Severina) who holds the undisputed title of Croatia's most popular entertainer. Her popularity among Croatian masses, however, doesn't match her status among music critics and cultural commentators like Gall. The main reason for that isn't her lack of talent; it is her choice of music and the crowd she attracts. Severina did experiment with various images and music styles through the past decade or so, but her greatest triumphs are based on the musical style which is in many ways similar to Serbian "turbo folk" – brand of music made infamous by the fact that it was associated with the worst excesses of Milošević's (Milosevic's) regime. "Turbo folk" is popular in Croatia and the crowds that flock to Severina's concerts not only insult progressive and "enlightened" sentiments of Croatian rock critics but also upset the left-minded and liberal social commentators – people who listen to "turbo folk" are usually rural, poorly educated, right-wing and intolerant. Severina's popularity (and lack of popularity of "progressive" music like rock) is a sign that Croatia is still part of Balkans.

Having Severina as the major star in publicly funded theatre is even more disturbing for Gall, because it shows that the barbarians had pushed the last cultural boundaries. Severina brought not only crowds, but sponsors to the theatre, which could very well poison its financial independence and seriously affect its repertoire. Severina added insult to injury by stating that "Croatian theatres should concentrate on light-hearted entertainment"; in other words, forget "heavy, incomprehensible" stuff like Strindberg, Ibsen, Sartre, Tennessee Williams or Mamet. Gall responds to such ideas with a incredibly venomous article in which he mentions notorious drug dealers as members of Croatian jet-sets and uses the word "sponzoruša" (sponzorusa) - another post-Communist addition to vocabulary which describes women who are one notch below "courtesans" in more polite society – in order to describe what kind of women become stars in the system that made Severina into undisputed superstar.

I tend to agree with most of Gall's observations. To say that I Severina isn't my cup of tea is an understatement. Whenever I see her face on TV, I switch the channel. I don't listen to radio-stations playing her music.

But Gall in this article went really overboard and his choice of arguments makes his case against Severina weak. Namely, he attacked Mani Gotovac, Rijeka theatre manager, for her response to those critical of her hiring Severina. According to Gotovac, Croatian culture shouldn't shy away from embracing "our own Marylin Monroes and Madonnas". According to Gall, Severina doesn't have anything in common with Marylin "who was primarily actress, and rather talented one" and Madonna "who always, and especially now, provided top quality entertainment in her projects".

This is where Gall lost any credibility. Calling Madonna "talented" and associating word "quality" to her latest hits, while calling Severina "an icon of poor taste" is the telling example of intellectual snobbery. Madonna might be talentless hack, but her songs are playing on MTV instead of Narodni Radio, so that makes her better than Severina? I know at least two things in which Severina beats Madonna. First, she looks better than Madonna. Second, she never took part in atrocities like Swept Away.

Justin Timberlake He Is Not

Nova TV doesn't have much luck with its reality shows. First they lost their main star Marin Tironi, then Tironi's transfer to rival HRT (state television) and subsequent mudslinging gave ammunition to all those who would like to accuse Nova TV of promoting drug use among Croatian youth.

Then comes Story Supernova Juniors, music talents show designed for children and teenagers under 16. The show, co-hosted by Anja Alavanja (one of Story Supernova contestant and currently the closest equivalent to Britney Spears in Croatia) has been recently smeared by the alleged child abuse committed by Josip Katalenić (Josip Katalenic), 22-year old pop singer who, together with Ms. Alavanja, works as a jury member.

Apparently, Katalenić didn't take his job very seriously – when on air, he pays little attention to young wannabe singers and their singing abilities (or lack of). Instead, he does everything in his power to bring camera attention to himself. Katalenić's favourite method is making faces, using bizarre gestures and sniping sarcastic remarks at the unsuspecting young contestants. One of the most troublesome escapades involved giving his hotel room number to 14-year old female contestant – in front of camera.

After a while Katalenić's antiques have been criticised in Jutarnji List television supplement, but now some Croatian children rights NGOs are urging Nova TV to sack Katalenić. Young pop star responded to accusations by claiming that the whole campaign is a result of an influential parents having their child being rejected at the show. He also involved politics into this, because Katalenić's father happens to be deputy minister of small business in Račan's (Racan's) cabinet.

On the other hand, negative publicity is probably good publicity for Katalenić, whose blonde hair and boyish looks failed to create armies of screaming female teenager fans and thus establish him as one of Croatian pop icons. Katalenić is no stranger to scandal – he was involved in a traffic accident, but nothing matched his answering a mobile phone in the middle of concert (while his voice still sang from the loudspeakers).