Wednesday, June 30, 2004

June 30th Fiasco

June 30th was supposed to be great day for Croatia just as for Iraq. Highway connecting Zagreb and Split nicknamed "Dalmatina" – project that had been in the works for past three decades – was supposed to be open today. For Sanader's government this was occasion to show one of its achievements that would, unlike EU-related diplomatic victories, have some tangible and beneficial effects for Croatian citizens by reducing drive from two major Croatian cities to three to four hours.

Unfortunately for Sanader and despite opening ceremonies being scheduled, on the very last day it turned out that all sections of Dalmatina won't be finished on June 30th. Some of the opening ceremonies were held nevertheless but the highway in its entirety would be open only in 10-12 days, just about the start of tourist season.

Stanko Kovač (Stanko Kovac), chairman of HAC (Croatian Motorways) Administrative Board has been sacked by Sanader.

In the meantime, Radimir Čačić (Radimir Cacic), one of the leaders of opposition HNS party and former minister in charge of highway construction, demanded that his successor Božidar Kalmeta (Bozidar Kalmeta) resigns. He blamed the fiasco on government's reluctance to sign necessary contracts with Bechtel, American construction company in charge of project.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

RIP Stipe Šuvar (Stipe Suvar) (1936 – 2004)

Stipe Šuvar (Stipe Suvar), former Croatian minister of education, former head of Yugoslav Communist Party and former member of Yugoslav Presidency has died. However, all those titles are just part of one remarkable story about one controversial individual.

Šuvar, born in Zagvozd, small place near Imotski, used to be one of the most disliked high-ranking Communist apparatchiks of former Yugoslavia. Many of his fellow Croatians didn't like his coming to power in the bleak decade following the crushing of "Croatian Spring" and purges. Many in the rest of former federation didn't like his controversial education reforms. Many were aghast at his "White Book" about "counter-revolutionary" artists and authors.

But even people like Šuvar can get opportunity to become popular heroes. This opportunity was provided by Slobodan Milošević (Slobodan Milosevic) in late 1980s. Šuvar became the champion of all those Party (and non-Party) forces determined to prevent Milošević from taking over Party and Federation. If someone wants to know why, for example, Croatians embraced man like Tudjman, little incident involving Šuvar would give perfect explanation. Torcida, Hajduk Split fan group, (in)famous for the virulent Croatian nationalism of its members, began to chant Šuvar's name any time Hajduk played against Serbia's teams (whose fans chanted Slobo's name).

Šuvar's failure to stop Milošević led to his fall from Party leadership and, ultimately, dissolution of Party and country. Unlike many who tried to "rediscover themselves" during those turbulent times, Šuvar remained loyal to his former self – he continued to advocate Communism and Yugoslavia. When victorious Tudjman's party asked him to resign from the post of Croatia's representative in Federal presidency, he refused and had to be removed following spirited speech in Sabor.

Many believed that the war would mean the end of Šuvar. They were wrong. In 1992 Šuvar's name again appeared in newspapers, this time due to his sociology research (his field of expertise before entering politics) and numbers that told convincing tale about most former Party members joining Tudjman's nationalist HDZ.

Šuvar, however, couldn't resist the need to become political player again. He and couple of other leftists – people disappointed with the "reformist" sellout of Račan's (Racan's) SDP – founded SRP (Socialist Workers Party). His first major move was condemnation of NATO's bombing of Serbia in 1999 – something heretical for country whose citizens had been praying for such event only few years ago. Through years SRP gathered many respected individuals but failed to make any serious impact on elections. Šuvar wasn't discouraged, though. He remained celebrity despite never returning to Croatian political mainstream.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Knights and Criminals

Few weeks ago Croatian streets began to get covered with posters featuring General Mirko Norac and words "GUILTY… for defending Croatia". Many saw those posters as the first major expression of Croatian right wingers' displeasure with Ivo Sanader's liberal policies – especially those that current prime minister branded as treacherous while in opposition.

Croatian Supreme Court, on the other hand, wasn't impressed. Norac, and the rest of his wartime comrades from Gospić (Gospic), had their sentences upheld. Norac, who had received 12 year prison sentence for the murder of Serb civilians in Gospić 1991, is now officially a criminal.

That would give great problems to his countrymen from the city of Sinj and neighbouring areas. For them Norac was and still is an undisputed war hero and embodiment of chivalry. Alka Knights Society, which runs Alka of Sinj - prestigious jousting tournament– is, by its own charter forced to erase Norac from its membership. This is going to be very hard, because Norac is Duke of Alka, the most prestigious title anyone from Sinj can have. To have someone like Norac behind bars and behind bars for the most despicable act imaginable is unbearable disgrace for Alka Knights and Sinj. It's hardly surprising that many in Sinj, even people from the opposing ends of political spectrum, simply refused to believe that their favourite son could ever be found guilty.

12 years of prison aren't the only trouble for Norac. He is still being investigated for the massacre of Serb civilians in Medak Pocket 1993. ICTY, which handles the investigation, hinted that the prosecution and trial could be transferred to Croatian authorities, which is something that Vesna Škare-Ožbolt (Vesna Skare-Ozbolt), current justice minister, lobbies for. But the latest speculations tell that Carla del Ponte and ICTY bigwigs, despite 12 year sentence, still don't have complete trust in independence and impartiality of Croatian judiciary. The trial is now supposed to be held in some European country instead.

Apart from people in Sinj and more extreme right-wingers, few Croatians tend to care that much for Norac. That represents stark contrast to the events in early 2001 where the mere hints about Norac's arrest or indictment resulted in 150,000 people on the streets of Split and "spontaneous" roadblocks all over the strategic points in the country.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Goran Goes to History

Today was a sad day for Croatian tennis. Goran Ivanišević (Goran Ivanisevic), the most legendary of all Croatian athletes and one of the most famous Croatians ever (at least among those who gained fame for the right reasons) has apparently played his last game. He made it through two rounds but Leyton Hewitt was too much for him and the match ended with 3-0.

Goran has announced that he will retire after this year's Wimbledon so his defeat today means the end of one great career.

Goran, always a showman, managed to draw few boos from the crowd by taking on Croatian soccer team dress after the end.

Croatian tennis will never be the same. There were Croatian tennis players who have won Grand Slams before and there are still many promising talents, but it is unlikely that the fairytale of Wimbledon 2001 would happen ever again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Scandinavian Brotherhood

Taking their cue from the traditional practices at Eurovision Song Contest, Swedish and Danish soccer team expressed their regional solidarity and drew yesterday's European Championship game at 2-2, thus making sure that both teams advance to the next stage of competition at the Italian expense.

At least this is the way yesterday's game is going to be interpreted in Italian media, which were accusing Swedes and Danes of fixing the game in advance.

I wonder whether the same things could happen if Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro (or Bosnia, Slovenia and Macedonia) find themselves in the same situation.

Monday, June 21, 2004


I've just witnessed immediate aftermath of nasty traffic accident. Two cars collided in one of Split's main streets. Their drivers were desperately trying to get to their destinations before the start of tonight's game between England and Croatia.

Judging by current result, they shouldn't have bothered.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Celebrations and Empty Streets

Last evening Zagreb witnessed the celebration of Croatian EU membership candidacy. "Witnessed" is, of course, a relative term. I don't envy those poor souls who had to stand, listen to Beethoven's Ode to Joy and watch the European flag go up. In the meantime, most Croatians were at their TV screens watching the game between Netherlands and Czech Republic – probably the best example of what soccer was supposed to be.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Generations of future Croatians are going to curse the name of Kim Milton Nielsen because he robbed Croatian team of well-deserved victory.

Few would say a word against Croatian defence for giving opportunity for such crime to occur.

Celebrate It!

Croatia is tomorrow expected to become official candidate for EU entry.

For Sanader's government this represents reason enough to stage public celebration in Zagreb on June 19th.

This celebration is going to serve as some sort of consolation for lack of other celebrations. In our country mentioning Croatia in the same sentence with Europe is usually associated with all kinds of national humiliations – starting with pathetic diplomatic capitulation in Adriatic fishing disputes and finishing with Croatian team's disappointing start at European Soccer Championship.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

It's All About Money

Few days ago Michael Moore announced that he was going to make a documentary about Tony Blair. According to Moore, Blair as intellectual was more fascinating subject than "idiot Bush". But now Moore retracted the story and said that he only "joked".

Of course, local and European elections held in Britain over the weekend probably has nothing to do with Moore's newly discovered sense of humour.
Just as Moore announced his documentary, Tony Blair's party got pummelled at the polls, making the prospects for Blair's survival as prime minister rather dim. And in that case Moore would experience certain difficulty in gaining necessary funds and publicity for the next Fahrenheit 911. Palm d' Ors, rave reviews, standing ovations and reputation of undisputed cinema genius are hard to get when you make documentary about person as relevant as Tony Callaghan.

On the other hand, Moore doesn't have to worry about losing media spotlight any time soon. Latest to provide him with such services is MPAA. Applying their usual criteria about violent content in the movies, they stamped Fahrenheit 911 with "R" rating, thus restricting cinema audience to the folks over 16 years of age. In the grand scheme of things this wouldn't amount much – younger audience are unlikely to watch documentaries and even when they do they are unlikely to vote in November elections and thus help Moore in achieving the ultimate purpose of his film. But Moore nevertheless screamed bloody murder and requested that the film which features graphic images of Iraqis being abused and American soldiers being maimed, disembowelled, incinerated and posthumously desecrated be available to any teenager over 13 years of age.

Of course, the mere fact that younger teenagers provide the core audience of any summer blockbuster has nothing to do with Moore's criticism of MPAA decision. And that R-rated movies tend to have significantly less impressive box-office numbers than their PG-13 counterparts.

Moore would nevertheless attack MPAA "censorship", although MPAA was in most likelihood more lenient to him than towards some unknown independent filmmaker whose use of similar images would result in NC-17 rating.

That won't prevent from Moore disciples to scream about "censorship", "suppression of truth" and "White House pressures". And many of the people demanding that American teenagers see disembowelled corpses were those that lambasted Schwarzenegger for "poisoning American children with graphic violence" only few months ago.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

All Politics Is Local, After All

Most of the anti-Bush crowd in USA went gaga over Tony Blair's Labour Party getting clobbered at British local and EU elections. For them this was seen as a sure sign that voters of enlightened pacifist leftist Europe wanted to punish those who betrayed them for the sake of Bush's right-wing militaristic America.

Although Iraq undoubtedly played part in Labours being hammered, it was only one of the reasons. One party to make an advantage over Labour unpopularity were Tories who had supported war. Another was UK Independence Party, protest movement that had more to do with EU Constitution than war.

Back across the Channel the picture is getting even more murkier. As some of pro-Bush section of blogosphere have noticed, Gerhard Schroeder, who had won 2002 German general elections on clear anti-war platform, got clobbered by right-wing Christian Democrats just as hard as Blair got clobbered by British voters.

Another important trend in European elections – rise of Eurosceptic protest parties and surprisingly low turnout in new EU states – are probably going to be ignored by bloggers obsessed with USA in November 2004.

I paid much more attention towards presidential elections in Serbia. It seems that Tomislav Nikolić (Tomislav Nikolic), candidate of hardline nationalist SRS party, won only about 30% votes, less than expected. He would have to go in second round with Boris Tadić (Boris Tadic) who won only couple of percentages less and can expect solid support from overwhelming majority of pro-western and moderate nationalist voters.

Not Getting It

Some years ago Married with Children was being aired on Croatian state television. For whole set of reason (mostly my dislike for American sitcoms, developed during the latter seasons of Alf) I never bothered to watch a single episode. Some of my friends, on the other hand, became big fans.

One night they decided to convert me into Married with Children fan and convinced me to watch an episode together with them. The episode was set in England. I watched and I don't remember smiling, let alone laughing. I also noticed that my friends weren't enthusiastic about episode either.

"Hmm… This was pretty bad, don't you agree?" I observed.

"Well… Yes. This one was pretty bad. But you don't get it. You just had misfortune of seeing one bad episode. The series as a whole is wonderful."

Average European trying to convert average American into soccer fan would probably have similar dialogue after today's game between Croatia and Switzerland. There isn't anything more pathetic than seeing two bad teams playing bad game and scoring no goals. And even more pathetic is knowledge that at least one of those teams can be much better.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

History Bites

In another of its ironic twists, history decided to shut the mouths of all those praising Reagan for bringing the end to the Communism (and conveniently forgetting some billion or so people still living under that particular system, some of them, as Diana points out, in America's own backyard).

On the very day The Destroyer of Communism was laid to rest, Communists have scored their best election result in post-1989 history of Czech Republic.

Farewell to Reagan

Partly because of insomnia and partly because of my love of history, I stayed awake and watched funeral of Ronald Reagan.

The sounds and images brought many memories, some of them hardly anything to do with Reagan. I remembered the way another great man was laid to rest twenty four years ago. And as I watched the sunset on television, the dawn began to break in our country. This was the good time to remember the old proverb in our lands. "One man's dusk is another man's dawn."

I didn't remember that proverb because I felt any hatred towards Reagan or what he stood for. I was just reminded of a truth that eluded me twenty-four years ago. It is only the history which is true judge of someone's importance. In case of Reagan, he became history while he was alive and his death and funeral were only the final formality of that inevitable process.

I was also reminded of my thought during the similar occasion less than five years ago when our country left its president. Death and passage of time put everything in proper perspective. And history tends to be kinder to great men than their contemporaries ever could be. Arguments of those who deify great leaders when they are alive are as hollow as arguments of those who demonise them during inevitable backlash. Great men are judged by their deeds and the long-term imprint they left on the world, not by the feelings they stirred in the process.

Yet, I, just like anyone who was alive during Reagan years, am not able to conform to those high ideals of historical objectivity. I can't write about Reagan in the same way I can write about Eisenhower or Kennedy. My perception of 40th American President is forever tainted by my own experiences in those times – times that I see, as people always do, as simpler, kinder, gentler, happier and more innocent than present day.

Because of this Reagan, despite all the political and other controversies (and my own views on Reagan that have changed in past two decades), is going to be among the better liked American presidents. At least for me.

After Severina

1500 hits yesterday. Barely 600 hits today.

It seems that the Severina affair is dying.

In the meantime, new speculations have arisen. Some believe that the whole mess with the video tape was nothing more than a warm-up for the series of new scandals, some involving Severina and some involving other notable figures of Croatian entertainment industry. Latest rumours – some of them repeated in Večernji list (Vecernji list) - tell about some "compromising photographs" of Vesna Pisarović (Vesna Pisarovic), another popular Croatian chanteuse. Those photographs didn't appear on the Internet, at least not for now.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Death of a Brigade

Lately I saw newspaper ads calling young Croatian men and women to join our country's armed forces. The ad I noticed features young man in Army and two women in Navy and Air Force uniforms, respectively.

This ad came in rather inopportune time, because, if newspaper reports are true, it should be changed – woman in Air Force uniform should disappear.

In past few years Croatian armed forces have recently gone through radical reorganisation "in adherence to NATO standards", as defence ministers like to remind us. In practical terms this means reducing the number of active personnel to very low levels. Reorganisation also reflects itself in drastic reduction of military budgets.

One victim of those reductions is going to be Croatian Air Force. With budgets shrinking, Croatia simply can't maintain couple of obsolete MiG-21s and other second-tier combat aircraft obtained in 1990s. At the eve of Iraq War it was announced that Croatian Air Force simply can't protect Croatian airspace and cities in case of 9-11 style terrorist attack. It is, therefore, presumed that NATO allies will take those tasks, because their air forces possess planes, expertise, infrastructure and budgets that Croatia lacks.

Air Force is not the only victim of reductions. Some of Croatian Army ground units are also going to be scrapped. Same thing is going to happen to 4th Guards Brigade a.k.a. 4th Split Brigade, one of the most famous and celebrated units of 1991-95 War. Their soldiers fought almost every major engagement in Dalmatian Theatre and won many important battles in Dalmatia, Herzegovina and Western Bosnia. Its best moment was, of course, liberation of Knin. 4th Guards Brigade had many prominent citizens of Split in their ranks, even some usually not associated with Croatian militarism or right-wing extremism, like local punk rock icon Sveto Panker and Viktor Ivančić (Viktor Ivancic), editor-in-chief of ultra-leftist Feral Tribune. 4th Guards Brigade had its share of bad moments, including some incidents investigated by War Crimes Tribunal in Hague.

However, it doesn't look nice to see penny-pinching NATO bureaucrats and their local sycophants succeeding in something Ratko Mladić (Ratko Mladic) and whole might of former Federal Army failed to do.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Sparrow in Hand

"Sparrow in hand is better than pigeon on tree".

This old proverb probably motivated France, Russia, Germany and all other Old Europe politicians when they decided to bury old hatchets and make sure that UN resolution about Iraq goes without any problems.

Some people in Bush-bashing and USA-bashing crowd might be disappointed. Some might even accuse Putin, Schroeder and Chirac of treachery. But this move makes perfect sense in strictly political terms.

At this time anyone who ever wanted to extract concession from US government – French, Russians, Germans, Chinese, Iraqi Kurds, Iraqi Shiites, even North Koreans and Baathists – can see their dreams come true.

Current US administration is in desperate need of some good news from Iraq. Even the hint of some kind of light at the end of tunnel would be helpful. Handover of sovereignty – after which pullout of US troops becomes distant but palpable certainty – could be interpreted as a sign that the worst days for Americans are over.

Of course, some may ask why Chirac, Schroeder, Putin and rest of the anti-war crowd decided to ultimately help Bush get re-elected. Was it more prudent to let Bush sink in Iraqi mud and have to deal with Kerry in January?

Wise men of Old Europe decided that the short term benefits of rescuing Bush were more apparent than long term benefits of helping Kerry get to White House.

Five months of American president telling "Hey fellows, you dropped your soap, would you let me pick it up" are preferable to four years of "How dare you ask any further favour after I've saved the world from such Texan monstrosity".

New Details About Severina Affair

1456 hits yesterday. More than 1100 hits today.

During tonight's Forum show on Croatian state television, results of the first major Severina-related opinion poll were published. According to poll, some 28 % of Croatians claim that they have seen the tape; some 34 % demand that those responsible for putting the tape of Internet should be severely punished (25 % want symbolic punsihment, while 29 % don't want any punishment at all); 47 % want Internet to be more strictly regulated (while 46 % are content with status quo).

Interestingly enough, one of the most liberal and down-to-earth panellists in the show was the Croatian police official in charge of cybercrime.

At the same time, more details about tape were published in Večernji list (Vecernji list). According to article, tape was first brought to the premises of HRT (Croatian state television) by one of the technicians employed by Željka Ogresta (Zeljka Ogresta) Show on May 29th. The tape was shown to the male employees of HRT Sports Programme. The article says that the tape was much longer than the 11-minute version distributed on the Internet and that its content was even more embarrassing to Ms. Vučković and Mr. Lučić – two of them are shown to consume "mood-enhancing substances other than champagne".

According to article, Ms. Vučković and her fiancé Srećko Vargek (Srecko Vargek) were informed about the tape almost immediately after it had been shown to HRT employees, apparently by famous Croatian singer and Ms. Vučković's good friends. Vučković was informed about technician's name and phone number but later never met him personally. Instead, the technician was confronted by couple of her bodyguards who demanded that the tape be returned. Technician "barely managed to convince them that the tape wasn't in his possession anymore".

Monday, June 07, 2004

Cooling Down

2350 hits yesterday. So far 950 hits today.

For the first time in days, no new significant developments in Severina affair are reported. The only exception is Večernji list (Vecernji list) article that spills beans about results of police investigation. According to article, Ms. Vučković's home wasn't broken into, so investigator believe that the thief was someone Ms. Vučković trusted enough to leave him or her key. The method of theft was simple – thief left the tape cover untouched, while replacing the tape. It took some time for Ms. Vučković to realise that the tape was gone.

Most saucy detail reported in the article is that the tape used to circulate among employees of Croatian state television days or weeks before the news erupted on

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Kissass & Kickass

Severina's interview for Joško Lokas (Josko Lokas) – which was highly advertised as the journalistic event of the century – is getting more bad reviews as times go by. If Lokas wanted to become Croatia's Mark Frost, his interview could be deemed nothing other than miserable failure. Lokas already earned the nickname "Joško Kissass", which is used by Croatian cartoonist Nik Titanik on his blog (link is in Croatian, but I guess that you can get the picture).

In the meantime, Aleksandar Stanković (Aleksandar Stankovic) really had no alternative but to call Matija Babić (Matija Babic), editor, to his talk show Nedjeljom u 2. Babić, who is the most hated man among die-hard Severina fans, has defended himself valiantly and went on the attack exposing Internetophobia and hypocritical way media, political and Croatian judicial system reacted to this affair. Judging by the Internet reactions, Matija Babić can expect his share of people who consider him the only true hero of this sad story.

Croatian blogosphere has just got itself new blog, dedicated exclusively to the Severina affair.

According to Jutarnji list, Milan Lučić (Milan Lucic), Herzegovina businessman who appeared together with Severina on the infamous video is offering undisclosed amount of money for information leading to the person who stole the tape and had it distributed on Internet.

Victim of Severina

While almost entire Croatain entertainment, media, cultural and political establishment sheds crocodile tears about Severina's "rape", "invasion of privacy", "perverted Internet vultures" etc. and everyone takes great pains to express his or her love and loyalty to Severina, there are at least some people in Croatian entertainment industry whose sentiments towards Croatian diva aren't that positive.

One of them could very well be Žanamari Lalić (Zanamari Lalic), winner of last night's Hrvatski idol final. For Žanamari it was a long and bumpy ride, and it wasn't the first time she tried to win that coveted title. In Germany she competed in their version of Pop idol and managed to get among top 40 contestants. Here she managed to come straight to the top. But what was supposed to be the greatest triumph of her life was so thoroughly and mercilessly overshadowed by Severina scandal.

Žanamari Lalić, of course, isn't the only victim of Severina. Just like Croatian fishermen and their much more substantial plight got ignored by Croatian media, so did people whose life deserved much more attention – poor old Ronnie and all those thousands of veterans of D Day.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Severina's Interview

Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic) gave interview to Joško Lokas (Josko Lokas), host of popular TV show who had her scheduled to appear before the start of whole sex video brouhaha.

The interview was well-rehearsed, well-thought and quite predictable. Severina was in full damage limitation mode ("I thank everyone for support", "my privacy was violated", "I see that people still love me" etc.).

First reactions on Internet weren't enthusiastic. There was less criticism of Severina. Most interesting reaction was "She reminds me of Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) with her slow, monotonous speech."

More criticism was reserved for Joško Lokas. Once popular game show host turned into disaster when given his own talk show. His apparent attempts to make this experience as easy for Severina as possible didn't satisfy Croatian public, apparently. Another characteristic reaction was:

Never since the days President Tudjman used to summon Croatian state media reporters for group interviews have I seen the interview in which interviewer never dared to ask any unpleasant question.

RIP Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Many things can be said about Ronald Reagan. Many worshiped him and many hated him. In the end, just like in many cases, history was the only true judge of his record.

By stopping briefly to honour his memory and quite aware that there are more qualified people to discuss his record, I will mention only his most trivial achievement. He was the first US president to break infamous 20 year course by being elected in 1980 and not dying in office.

He not only survived his encounter with Hinckley's bullet in 1981, he even managed to outlive an actor portraying him in TV movie about the event.

Severina's Video - New Version?

2424 hits yesterday. Only 500 hits today. This thing is definitely cooling down. I guess good people has already got the picture.

In the meantime, news about integral 40-minute version of tape being available on Internet has surfaced. Probably nothing spectacular would come of it, but ISPs and various are going to earn extra money.

The affair got international dimension and began to affect other countries when two Slovenian television stations – government owned RTV Slovenija and privately-owned POP TV – aired short clips from the video. Airing of the clips was condemned by most of Slovenia's talking heads, but RTV Slovenija is going to fare worse than POP TV. Severina's lawyers are announcing lawsuit and cash-starved and publicly financed RTV Slovenija is going to be hit much harder than profitable POP TV. Some speculate about RTV Slovenija raising its "subscription" (unofficial tax all TV set owners in European countries has to pay in order to finance their public television companies).

Severina is also expected to appear with exclusive interview in tonight's talk show on HRT, Croatia's state television.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Cro Cop's Finest Hour

When Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović (Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic) announced his candidacy for Sabor on SDP ticket, most political observers were left speechless. Most saw this as nothing more than publicity stunt. Later, when Filipović was spending most of his time preparing for Ultimate Fight and Pride tournaments or shooting his first feature film, the consensus was that his Sabor seat was nothing more than convenient way to secure hefty Sabor pension.

Lately there was speculation about Račan (Racan) and "Cro Cop" parting ways and "Cro Cop" joining some of Croatia's right-wing parties. Most believed that "Cro Cop" would follow infamous example of Dijana Čizmadija (Dijana Cizmadija), former fashion model and MS of SDP who had entered history books by being first Sabor representative never to usher a single word during her term.

I was little bit sceptical. When "Cro Cop" appeared in Nedjeljom u 2 talk show and tried to explain why he had entered politics, he had left decent impression. Hardly a genius, smooth operator or eloquent orator, but generally honest man convinced that he is doing the right thing and that he could make a difference.

The great moment for "Cro Cop" came today, during the debate about amendments to Criminal Code. "Cro Cop" finally spoke out for the first time and energetically demanded that Criminal Code becomes much tougher for criminals.

"Life in Croatia is worthy as it was in the Wild West", he said and started mentioned most infamous cases of killers and rapists receiving ridiculously short prison sentences by notoriously lenient Croatian judiciary. "In some countries ordinary young men spend more time in barracks as part of obligatory military training than average Croatian killer spend behind bars".

"Cro Cop" finished by demanding that life imprisonment gets introduced into the Code as the punishment for the worst kind of offences.

His speech was followed by long applause.

I can already guess that some people in Croatia won't share enthusiasm of "Cro Cop"'s Sabor colleagues. Namely Feral Tribune and similar ultra-leftist crowd that still can't forgive "Cro Cop" for few homophobic remarks in Playboy interview one year ago. By adopting Tough On Crime rhetoric he is bound to be painted as authoritarian/fascist by those people.

Severina-Related Quote of the Day

One of the more insightful observations inspired by the entire Severina brouhaha. You can find it here.

Severina Conspiracy Theories

14061 hits yesterday. Only 600 hits today. It seems that people finally began to realise that this blog is probably not the best place from where they could hope to obtain Severina sex video.

Those Croatians not busy with desperate attempts to get their hands on 11 Minutes That Shook The World are trying to find some sort of explanation why the tape appeared right now, who was ultimately responsible and who would benefit the most from the erupting scandal.

Some of the details – tape being stolen two years ago and theft being reported only now, Severina's upcoming wedding to Zagreb businessman Srećko Vargek (Srecko Vargek), her appearance in popular TV show that had been scheduled for tomorrow and some important events that are happening in background – led many to develop at least three basic conspiracy theories.

First one tries to explain this with carefully conceived and executed publicity stunt. According to proponents of this theory, Severina's career, following her disastrous attempt to boost SDP in the eve of November elections, is sagging, media slowly starts to ignore her, so some drastic measures had to be done. Unprecedented publicity, following with the public expression of solidarity by Croatian show business, cultural and political establishment, would give another major boost to her career.

The other basic set of theories revolves around lovers' quarrel/blackmail scheme gone bad. Before her engagement to Vargek, Severina was rumoured to have relationship with Marin Lučić (Marin Lucic), Herzegovina businessman who had wife and three children. In the meantime, Ms. Lučić got pregnant with the fourth child and the relationship was over. Lučić, who appears in the video together with Severina, denies that he had anything to do with the release of tape. Another variation of this theory speculates about involvement of Croatian organised crime.

Finally, third set of theories point towards Croatian government and/or its intelligence services. The timing of the scandal was perfect, considering that Sanader's government has recently passed plenty of unpopular measures, practically giving up each and every of its pre-election promises. The most spectacular example is yesterday's easing of fishing rules in Adriatic. Last October Sanader lambasted Račan's (Racan's) government for not being radical enough in protecting Croatia's maritime interests. The new regime, passed in Sabor yesterday, is more liberal than Račan's and would allow fishing activity to EU countries. Since the original measures were directed primarily against overfishing committed by Italian and Slovenian trawlers, yesterday's move represents one of the most humiliating defeats of Sanader's government. But with the nation interested in Severina's hanky panky, few people would notice.

Even more paranoid theories see this incident as the perfect pretext for crackdown on Croatian Internet and taking down freedom of speech. During today's debate about new Criminal Code, Djurdja Adlešić (Djurdja Adlesic), MS from right-wing HSLS party and former "associate" of Tudjman's secret services, has pleaded for more regulation and more severe penalties against cybercrime and protection of individual privacy, explicitly naming Severina as illustration of her point.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Roland Garros As It Should Have Been

Elena Dementeeva vs. Anastasia Myskina in the final. Everyone is talking about first Russian finale. But people should tell about final game featuring two good-looking women.

Just like the concept of Grand Slam pushed by media in the days when Kournikova and Hingis were still around.

Expert Opinions

11000 hits and rising.

Honestly, I wanted to blog about John Tenet's resignation and George W. Bush telling that he has some understanding for Iraqi insurgents.

But I simply can't let Severina story go. It took the life of its own. This is becoming Croatia's equivalent of 9-11. Years later people would remember what they were doing and what kind of weather was when they saw those fatal 11 minutes for the first time.

Croatian state television, citing Croatian Ministry of Interiors, claims that the clip came from unknown server in USA and the access to this server was 200 HRK (27,14 €)/ per minute. According to calculation, owner of the site has pocketed over 240 million US$.

Those claims were repeated by Severina's attorney Anto Nobilo. He said that he would sue owner of site, where the files containing images and video briefly appeared. Mysterious "Viper", owner of the site, contacted media and denied that he made any money.

Anto Nobilo is one of the most prominent lawyers in Croatia today. His best known client is Tihomir Blaškić (Tihomir Blaskic), Bosnian Croat general who has been sentenced to 45 years of prison for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

Severina Strikes Back

10426 hits yesterday. It was four digits after all. Today it is 8500 hits and rising.

Zagreb Municipal Court issued injunction against banning the publication of Severina sex tape. The measure, brought after the request of Ms. Vučković's lawyers, threatens Prva stranica d.o.o. – company which owns - with 20,000 HRK (2714 €) of fine the court order is disobeyed. The measure is going to remain in effect until the end of lawsuit Ms. Vučković have 15 days to file.

Court in its ruling established that, by publishing still images, "violated the right of privacy, dignity, reputation and honour" and that further publications could create "irreparable damage" to Ms. Vučković.

Severina's lawyers also filed criminal complaint against unknown individual who had made the tape available on Internet.

Severina's lawyers also announced lawsuit against and criminal complaint against Matija Babić (Matija Babic), editor.

HGU – Croatian Music Union – called government and Sabor to use "drastic measures" in order to protect citizens' right to privacy and dignity.

Croatian media estimate that no less than 1,000,000 people have seen the tape in first 24 hours since the news broke.

Night of the Burning Modems (WARNING: Offensive Language)

5500 hits and rising. My estimates are around 7500-8000 by 09:00 CET.

Needless to say, access to certain Croatian ISPs became very difficult.

Of all reactions probably the most serious one is the comment from Željko Luketić (Zeljko Luketic) of Radio 101 which accuses Croatian establishment of hypocrisy. All those who are lamenting Severina's loss of privacy viewed stories about Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton as fun. And nobody saw anything wrong with top secret documents from Presidential archives being sold to Croatian tabloids.

I might add that the worst case of hypocrisy came from Nova TV. In their commentary they attacked for breaking the story and thus endangering someone's "privacy and dignity". Yet, the very same Nova TV aired interview with Rebecca Loos not so long ago in prime time. The only reason why the interview was aired was to satisfy Croatian audience's curiosity about most sordid details of Beckham's private life.

Another, less serious comment comes from my fellow citizen of Split (I apologise for the language, but I think it is quite appropriate for this set of circumstances):

I'm so proud to be from Split… F**k Ivanišević (Ivanisevic), f**k Kukoč (Kukoc), f**k Oliver… Seve, you rule!

Most insightful comment also comes from Split:

Page 109 of CNN Teletext… Franjo Tudjman had to die and Goran Ivanišević (Goran Ivanisevic) had to win Wimbledon to get there.

Another insightful comment comes, this time from one Croatian Usenet forum (again, apologies, because of the language):

Seve is one hot chick. She became Croatia's sex symbol and, as such, a top trophy for nouveau riche who got any material possession available, so they have to get this. Not so long ago big deal was to ball (and make the tape in order to prove it, of course) Kasandra (does anyone remember her), now it is Seve's turn… I believe that there are many such tapes featuring Croatian starlets. Nothing weird, it is nice to cherish the memory of the night with Severina, this is for real… :oo)) And, as the wise man said "If you f***d, and you don't have anyone to whom you could brag about, you didn't f**k at all". And if you have a tape… It is true. We are like hyenas. We are delighted, but we are not delighted in seeing her suffer. We enjoy something that was forbidden to us not so long ago. In her a**, in her t**s, in watching her b**w with her big lips… If she knew that there wasn't anything malicious and Schadenfreude in our delight, perhaps she wouldn't have such a hard time.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

You Live, You Learn

Not so long ago I learned that I'm rabid reactionary right-winger.

Today I learned something new after getting my hands on last week's edition of Feral Tribune. The article signed with initials I.Dj. – the author is most probably Ivica Djikić (Ivica Djikic) – dealt with Husar, new Croatian fanzin dealing with military history. The article called the fanzine "boring", "amateurish" and "semi-literate", but the worst attack was ideological. The author obviously doesn't like fanzine author's admiration towards military operations from distant past. He says that he is afraid of people who are so obsessed with wars and weapons.

Since the writer of this blog happens to like military history, this means that I scare poor Feral journalist.

One Comforting Thougt For Severina

2500 hits and rising.

Well, there definitely are worse ways to put your name on CNN teletext.

More Thoughts About Severina

1500 hits and rising.

Now I'm not so sure that the daily number of hits won't go into four digits before the end of day.

When I remember that I wanted to write about surging oil prices, Serbian BK television being carried by local cable TV providers in Split or my first impressions about Cold Case and Kathryn Morris being tragically underused by Hollywood...

Because of this I'm currently the most read blog writer in Croatia. But this doesn't make me very happy or proud.

I became, at least for the brief moment, part of the media machine I so utterly despise.

Severina Becomes International Celebrity

A little home movie helped Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic) in gaining more attention that she could have ever hoped to gain through singing.

Even the world media took notice. First Reuters, than CNN.


I've switched the TV set and saw the clip featuring Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic). My first thought was: "How this woman could continue with her career after Croatian public got unprecedented insight into her most intimate activities?"

In the meantime,, whose webmasters gallantly pulled all the images down after being politely asked by Ms. Vučković to do so, is overwhelmed by increased traffic. Needless to say, the home movie in its entirety has appeared on the Net. Brief shot of Severina waving to camera in the brief pause between some of the more explicit bedroom activities is going to become one of the iconic images of our time.

Emerging Croatian blogosphere also went into overdrive., Croatian blog host, had to suspend new blog entry because of the intense traffic.

Statcounter for this blog also went insane. Usually, I get 60-80 hits per day. This morning I received more than 100 hits in first few hours. I expect to get 500 hits before the end of day.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Preserving Icons

Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic), queen of Croatian popular music, has apparently taken noble example of Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton and had her most intimate moments recorded on tape. The tape somehow ended in the hands of people who maintain site and they published few still images only to remove them after few hours.

The images weren't on-line for long and they didn't contain particularly saucy content (except in the context), but the outrage was swift. Public condemnations were joined by Božo Biškupić (Bozo Biskupic), Croatian minister of culture.

Needless to say, with or without bans or outrage, Severina sex video is going to major underground attraction of Croatian cyberspace.

But it is still nice to see government officials expressing their concern for the dignity of Croatian cultural icons.

First Blood in Scheveningen

A decade, while they were free, they committed unspeakable acts motivated with senseless ethnic hatred. Today, while they are behind ICTY prison walls, they represent model of multi-ethnic utopia worthy of "Brotherhood and Unity" of Tito's era.

So, it wasn't hard to imagine that the first violent incident involving two ICTY prisoners would involve people belonging to same ethnic groups.

According to Croatian media reports, few days ago in ICTY prison gym, Tihomir Blaškić (Tihomir Blaskic), former Bosnian Croat general, who was sentenced to 45 years for 1993 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Ahmići (Ahmici), has attacked Ivica Rajić (Ivica Rajic), Bosnian Croat commander currently awaiting trial for 1993 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Stupni Do.

Blaškić is currently appealing his sentence and, according to the lawyers involved in the case, is not happy with Rajić's testimony. Two men had clashed before, during the war when Blaškić tried to introduce higher discipline in Bosnian Croat forces.

Two men may be accused for similar crimes, but their fate in past years was different. Blaškić was among first non-Serb to be indicted and first war crimes suspect to go to prison voluntarily. Rajić was arrested and brought to Hague last year.