Monday, 14 November 2022

A Hotel that Inspires Many - Promotes Croatia & Gives Away 10 Years of Free Stays to Its Guests!

November 14, 2022 - The summer of 2022 and another successful #reelstoryofcroatia contest at Marvie Hotel & Health in Split

This summer has been yet another amazing sun-soaked Mediterranean adventure as seen in the bright and colorful footage which inspired Marvie Hotel & Health guests shared for the 2nd edition of the hotel’s popular contest. For those who are still unfamiliar with the details of this creative and fun contest, as well as its mind-blowing prize - #reelstoryofcroatia was first launched by Marvie Hotel & Health in the summer of 2021.

Already known as the first health hotel in Dalmatia and one that has embraced many innovations such as long-term offers for digital nomads as well as the possibility of paying with cryptocurrencies, this popular hotel in the beautiful city of Split came up with the Instagram contest of the decade - an incredible opportunity for all Marvie guests to win 10 years of stays at the hotel!

3 nights for 2 persons in our Superior Room for 10 years!

It is not hard to imagine why so many took the chance to win 3 nights for 2 persons in a Superior room at Marvie’s, with breakfast included – EACH year for 10 consecutive years. The task was easy - all the hotel guests had to do was enjoy their vacation, shoot their favorite summer moments with a smartphone and finally share their days of fun in the sun with friends and family on Instagram!

The whole concept of this contest is aimed at promoting the beauties of the city of Split, the nearby islands, the magnificent coast and generally the irresistible charm of this region. With that in mind, the creative contestants focused on having fun and being themselves, while filming great footage of the incredible Dalmatian scenery. The goal of promoting this mesmerizing Croatian destination was indeed accomplished as the shared Reels have so far generated more than 250.000 views from all over the world!

Last year’s 1st #reelstoryofcroatia winner was Patrick Whelan from Britain, known as @patrick.films on Instagram, whose creative winning video entry served as an inspiration for many of this year’s contestants. The hotel management has informed us that Patrick has already started reaping the benefits of his prize and has completed his first free stay at Marvie this summer, in July!


Photo description: Patrick Whelan, the winner of the 1st #reelstoryofcroatia 

 #reelstoryofcroatia 2022 contest of the decade

Following the success of the 1st edition, Marvie Hotel & Health decided to give a green light to the start of a new version of the #reelstoryofcroatia contest for the summer of 2022.

Once more, during this year’s summer season Marvie’s guests were invited to jump into a new exclusive contest and grab the opportunity to win free three-day stays in a Superior Room for two persons EACH year from 2023 to 2032!

Even though no high-end production was needed to take part in this competition, this year too, some creative guests have outdone themselves and have posted authentic, as well as truly exciting videos of their seaside experiences! Just as was the case upon the end of the first edition, this year the hotel’s management admits having had a very hard time selecting the lucky winner!

This season’s #reelstoryofcroatia fabulous prize has gone out to winner Ronnesha Jackson! The top contestant @amorxnesha won the 2022 contest by posting a truly feel-good, groovy and stylish video and has now unlocked her 10 YEARS of stays at Marvie Hotel & Health!


Photo description: Ronnesha Jackson, the winner of the 2nd #reelstoryofcroatia 

Click below to view Ronnesha’s winning Reel.


The GM of Marvie Hotel & Health, Diana Rubić Radman is thrilled with the results:

“Last year we had already noticed that guests readily accepted the challenge of this contest. They had fun filming their videos and the results accomplished our goal – the Reels generated over 250.000 views in two years! The decision to relaunch the contest in 2022 was an easy one to make. This is a win-win situation – the guests happily embrace the contest, while we manage to promote the destination at the same time. By participating in #reelstoryofcroatia our guests also become ambassadors, promoting the beauty of Split, Dalmatia and Croatia as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The fact that last year’s winner has already used 1/10 of his prize this July, is proof of how thrilled visitors are to return to our destination. Once again, we thank all our guests of participating!”

If you’d like to make the most out of your upcoming Croatian holiday, Marvie Hotel & Health might be your optimal choice. Feel free to check their availability calendar, and book directly via their website for the best price online.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Exploring Croatian - A Brief History of the Istriot Language

November the 14th, 2022 - You've likely heard of Istrian, but have you heard of the Istriot language? This very, very sparsely spoken language remains the tongue of around 400 people in the southwestern part of the Istrian peninsula, and is a Romance language of the Italo-Dalmatian branch of languages.

I know I've said it before (probably a few dozen times, actually), but for such a geographically small country, Croatia boasts a seriously impressive number of dialects, subdialects and yes, even languages in their own right as some linguists argue. We've explored old Dalmatian words which are unfortunately close to extinction, the main dialects which make up standard Croatian as we know it today, Shtokavian, Cakavian and Kajkavian, as well as the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan), and even some much more obscure ones such as Zaratin, which was once widely spoken in and around Zadar, but is rarely heard anymore - if at all.

Many people will think of gorgeous Istria and its fairy tale hilltop towns, rolling hills and popular wine and truffles as a place in which people generally speak Croatian or Italian. After all, all the signs are bilingual, and Istria and Italy have had a... let's say... rather complex relationship over the years. It makes sense that the Italian influence is strong in that part of Croatia, and indeed it is. But it isn't quite that simple.

So, back to the Istriot language, which, as I stated, is spoken by a very small number of people in southwestern Istria, mainly in Vodnjan and Rovinj and shouldn't be confused with the Venetian ''inspired'' Istrian dialect, or with Istro-Romanian. The Istriot language is something that is very much its own and draws its roots directly from medieval Latin. That doesn't mean there aren't arguments from linguists and other experts about what it actually is, however. The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History placed it in the Dalmatian Romance subgroup back in 2017, but of course, not everyone agrees, and many people (this includes multiple experts) classify it quite differently. 

I should also stated that historically speaking, it was never actually referred to as the Istriot language until the 19th century, but rather by giving reference to the locations in which it is (or in some cases was) spoken. Just six towns in Istria spoke it, and they were Vodnjan (Bumbaro) and Rovinj (Rovignese), Bale (Vallese), Sisan (Sissanese), Galizana (Gallesanese) and Fazana (Fasanese).

When Istria was part of Italy, the Istriot language was deemed to merely be a Venetian subdialect, but many now consider it an independent language of its own, and for the purposes of this article, I'm going to be calling it the Istriot language. Those who consider it to be entirely independent classify it as an Italo-Dalmatian language, which many people accept it to be. Others consider it to be a Romance language influenced by Friulian, Venetian and Slavic speech. Some consider it to be an independent Northern Italian language which doesn't belong to the Venetian language whatsoever. Others classify it as a variety of the Rhaeto-Romance languages, and Antonio Ive, an Istriot himself, believes that to be the case.

So, as you can see, it's far from simple and the fact that a mere 400 people speak it in very specific locations today doesn't alter the fact that debates still take place over the Istiot language, its origins, or its influences. It was of course once significantly more widely spoken, and the term ''Istriot language'' was, as stated, given back during the 19th century when an Italian linguist, Graziado Isaia Ascoli, first called it that. It is classed as an endangered language which is at real risk of becoming extinct very quickly, and the reason is obvious. With an estimated number of speakers at just 400, it won't be long until the Istriot language enters the same history books as Zaratin went to.

Despite its endangered status, attempts have been made at trying to rescue this language from the cruel hands of time, and in order to preserve and promote the Istriot language, the Istriot Dialect Festival was organised, which has been being held every year since 2013, where other traditional Istrian items can be enjoyed, including locally made cakes.


For more on the Croatian language, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Every Fifth Croatian Resident on Edge of Poverty as Inflation Continues

November the 14th, 2022 - Every fifth Croatian resident is living on the very edge of poverty as inflation continues to spiral and prices stay firmly on their upward trajectory. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, The World Day of the Poor was marked just yesterday, having initially been established by Pope Francis six years ago with the message - "We do not love with words, but with deeds". 

Here in this country, every fifth Croatian resident is at risk of falling below the poverty line, and the situation is further aggravated by growing inflation, which is why more and more people need help. On this occasion, Caritas organised a lunch and assistance for those most in need. The economic crisis and rising inflation has pushed many to the brink of poverty, and it's more than likely going to get worse before it gets better, writes HRT.

"We are also noticing an increase in the number of younger families in which one member of the household works, but they do not have enough funds to cover all their financial needs and obligations throughout the month," emphasised Jelena Loncar, the director of Caritas of the Zagreb Archdiocese.

Caritas employees and volunteers are ready to help those who need it with full hands and open hearts. Those who take care of the poor every day prepared a hot meal in Rijeka as well. The "Ruže sv. Franje" homeless shelter shockingly has almost has no free beds, and knocks on the door of the social self-service centre are becoming more and more frequent.

"We have very good support from our fellow citizens, they respond to all our actions. We manage to fill our shelves and that's actually all the joy of sharing and giving," emphasised Nela Pujic, a volunteer of the social supermarket and at the aforementioned homeless shelter.

As stated, every fifth Croatian resident is now at real risk of falling below the poverty line, and there is an extremely fine line between that and homelessness.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Monday, 14 November 2022

New Croatian Pension Model Could Lead to Increased Payouts

November the 14th, 2022 - A new Croatian pension model is on the horizon, which will likely make the payouts retirees receive each month higher in the long run.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a new Croatian pension model will come into force on January the 1st next year, as will Croatian entry into Schengen and the Eurozone. The news is that what are known as family pensions are set to increase by 10 percent, and for the first time, widows and widowers will be able to keep their personal pension and inherit part of their deceased spouse's pension, which wasn't even possible until now.

The new Croatian pension model will cover more than 155,000 pensioners, and the average increase will be around 510 kuna, which while small in the eyes of some, isn't entirely insignificant to those receiving a criminally low amount each month. In order to be entitled to this type of pension, you must be 65 years old. In addition, at the time of your partner's death, you should be able to meet all of the other conditions for exercising the right to a family pension, according to a report from HRT.

"For example, if someone was 50 years old at the time of their spouse's death or they were taking care of their children, that means they were fulfilling their parental duties. And, on top of that - that the sum of their personal pension and part of their family pension doesn't exceed 80 of the current value of the pension, which currently stands at 6,212 kuna," said Melita Cicak, the director of the Pension System Administration in the Ministry of Labour.

What is the actual procedure?

Considering the differences, each user will be able to get information from the Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) about which Croatian pension model is the most profitable for them.

"Users who use only their family pension, and haven't been granted the right to a personal pension, will need to submit a request for the realisation of the right to a personal pension or family pension before requesting the payment of part of the family pension," said Maja Cakarun, head of the Public Relations Office of the HZMO.

The new law enters into force on January the 1st, 2023, and its implementation will require around one billion and 400 million kuna.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Selfless Croatian Students Donate Hair to Kids With Cancer

November the 14th, 2022 - Croatian students have generously and selflessly donated their hair to other children who are suffering with cancer and needing to undergo chemotherapy which more often than not results in hair loss.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Noelle Suler Bistre is just eight years old, she attends the second grade of Eugen Kumicic Elementary School, and for her seventh birthday she decided she didn't want any presents. This school year, Noelle donated hair she had cut off to the Iskra Association of Parents of Children Suffering from Malignant Diseases from Banja Luka, and she decided on this venture two weeks ago thanks to her friend Dior, who is one year older than her, and with whom she goes to ballet.

It was Dior, according Noelle, that motivated her to donate 36 centimetres of her own hair to make a wig that will brighten up the days of a child dealing with not only cancer but the often extremely harsh realities of cancer treatment.

However, Noelle is not the only student who decided to make this humanitarian move, because in the last three years, three other Croatian students have done the same thing, and they have jointly donated a total of 148 centimetres of hair. Sixth grade student Natali Bozic was the first to do it three years ago, followed by Masa Stevanovic, then fifth grader who has been attending the Josip Pavlisic Catholic Elementary School since this school year, while eighth grader Ana Prtenjaca did it this September, according to Rijeka portal Novi list.

Regardless of what was the impetus for the donation, all four of these kind and generous Croatians students agree that they have never regretted doing it, and as Natali says, her older sister encouraged her to donate her hair.

All of these Croatian students, according to the principal of Eugen Kumicic Primary School, Ana Anic Opasic, regularly participate in various humanitarian actions that the school organises, and within the framework of which the school designed and had umbrellas made with the motto "Svaka kap je bitna/Every drop counts".

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Monday, 14 November 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 17: Dinamo Ends Autumn Season in 1st, Rijeka Coach Sacked, Drama in Koprivnica

November 14, 2022 - The SuperSport HNL 17th round was played on November 12 and 13, 2022. The final round of the autumn season was not without drama. Coronavirus, shocking refereeing, and coach sackings are just part of it. Here's our SuperSport HNL round 17 recap.

Lokomotiva v. Istra 1961 (2:0)

Lokomotiva and Istra opened the 17th round on Saturday, November 12, in Zagreb in front of 681 fans. 

Kulenovic scored Lokomotiva's first goal in the 11th minute from the penalty spot. The questionable call was made when Mersinaj and Perković collided heads in a duel on the edge of the penalty area. Mersinaj remained injured on the pitch, and even though it was clear that it was an accidental collision, VAR judge Bebek assessed that it should be a penalty for Lokomotiva. Kulušić looked at the situation himself and awarded a penalty. Lokomotiva confirmed the victory in the 73rd minute when Stojkovic scored for 2:0. 

Lokomotiva is currently in 8th place with 18 points, while Istra is in 6th place with 20 points and a game in hand. 

Slaven Belupo v. Hajduk (2:2)

Belupo and Hajduk met on Saturday, November 12, in Koprivnica in front of 3198 fans. 

Hajduk led 2:0 at halftime with goals from Filip Krovinović (12') and Rokas Pukštas (28'), but Belupo equalized at the beginning of the second half through Arber Hoxha (49') and Ivan Krstanović (58-penalty). The pivotal moment happened in the 36th minute when the match came to a halt for 20 minutes because an object hit the linesman in the head. Hajduk captain Marko Livaja and Slaven defender Nikola Soldo had an altercation on the pitch. Livaja received a yellow card, and Hajduk fans reacted. Another controversial call from the ref came in the 56th minute when Čulina pointed to the penalty spot for Belupo. Hajduk defender Simić headed the ball into the corner and landed on the heel of the Belupo player. Although it is clear that the ball was already out of play during that involuntary contact, the decision was not changed, and Krstanović scored to equalize. Hajduk ended the match with ten players after Sahiti was sent off in the 80th minute, receiving his second yellow card for an alleged handball.


Hajduk president Lukša Jakobušić commented about the match on Monday:

"Referee experts and the Commission are inconsistent, which confuses the public, us in football, and the refs themselves. Some situations went to our advantage and our detriment. However, Hajduk will never be satisfied with anything that is not fair. We want a fair trial for all clubs at all levels."

Belupo is currently in 4th place with 26 points, while Hajduk is in 2nd with 35. 

Sibenik v. Osijek (0:2)

Sibenik and Osijek met on Sunday, November 13, in front of only 250 fans. 

Beljo scored two goals in two minutes to make it 0:2 for Osijek going into halftime. Beljo scored again in the 72nd minute, which was called offside after consulting VAR. 


Sibenik is currently in 9th place with 13 points, while Osijek is in 3rd with 30. 

Rijeka v. Dinamo (2:7)

Rijeka and Dinamo closed the 17th round on Sunday, November 13, at Rujevica.

Rijeka lost 2:7 on Sunday, their biggest defeat at home since Croatian independence. This was also the last match in SuperSport HNL in 2022. Dinamo separated themselves from Hajduk by six points with a game in hand. Mislav Oršić and Mahir Emreli scored two goals each, Dario Špikić and Josip Šutalo added one each, while Ivan Smolčić scored an own goal. Gabriel Lunetta and Mario Vrančić mitigated the defeat for Rijeka. 


Serse Cosmi was sacked as the Rijeka coach after the match. Rijeka is currently in 8th place with 15 points. 

Gorica v. Varazdin (Postponed)

The 17th-round match between Gorica and Varaždin, which was supposed to be played on Sunday, was postponed due to COVID-19 in the Gorica team. The new date will be determined at a later date. 

The SuperSport HNL will return on January 21, 2023, when the 18th round will be played.

You can see the HNL table HERE.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Paramedic Ambulance Specialisation to be Introduced for Nurses in Croatia

November 13, 2022 - Next year, the specialist training of nurses and technicians for independent work in the emergency service will begin, who, following the model of the paramedic system in Western European countries, will be able to provide first aid to victims in the field independently, without the presence of a doctor.

"It is the first such specialisation of nurses in Croatia. They will receive greater competence and authority; they will be able to independently resuscitate a patient and administer certain medications, following the example of paramedics in Western European countries who can independently provide first aid and administer resuscitation therapy," explained Mario Gazić, president of the Croatian Chamber of Nurses, to Hina, reports Zadarski List

E-consultation has just been completed on the Proposal for a new regulation on the specialist training of bachelor's degrees in nursing in the field of emergency medicine.

The out-of-hospital emergency medical service in the field consists of team T1, which includes a doctor, nurse/technician, and driver, and team T2, without a doctor, but in the future, after their specialisation training, additional trained nurses and technicians with greater authority should work in it and be able to provide first aid independently.

The training will last one year, and the first call for applications for specialisations is expected by the end of this year.

The Croatian Institute for Emergency Medicine (HZHM) says that for a three-year period, one hundred million kuna of European funds have been secured for the education of 375 bachelor's degrees in nursing. The paramedic system works in most Western European countries, and professional associations have been advocating its introduction in Croatia for years.

Gazić points out that nurses and technicians in the emergency service team will receive greater competence and authority but also greater responsibility, so they must raise the salary coefficient.

He points out that for specialists, the coefficient should be at least 1.37 instead of the current 1.16, so their salaries should increase from HRK 1,500 to HRK 2,000.

Specialist training

Participants of the specialisation should attend 1,600 hours of classes in one year of education.

The theoretical part will take place at colleges and universities, and the practical part, under the supervision of a mentor, in institutes for emergency medicine and hospitals. In the end, they will take the final specialist exam to determine that the participant has acquired all the knowledge and skills prescribed by the program.

"In the emergency medical system, there is an interest in specialist training, and we believe that nurses and technicians, as well as their employers, will take advantage of this opportunity for quality education, for which European funds have been secured," said HZHM.

As an added value, they cite other complementary projects such as the project "Telemedical connection of emergency medical service vehicles with a unified emergency hospital reception," through which the employees of the outpatient emergency medical services will be able to receive a telemedical consultation from a specialist doctor at any time to take care of the patient as well as possible until they arrive at the hospital.

The Chamber of Nurses believes that the possibility of specialist training could prevent nurses and technicians from going to work abroad.

"Several other specialisations in the field of nursing are being developed, which will enable higher incomes with additional incentives. So far, about 20 proposals from professional societies on specialisations for nurses have been collected," Gazić pointed out.

For more, check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

South Korean Tourists Coming Back, Croatia Marketed as Safe and Desirable

November 13, 2022 - Before the pandemic in 2019, South Korean tourists were responsible for over 511,000 overnight stays in Croatia, which they consider a safe and desirable destination.

As Poslovni writes, the Korean delegation from the Jeju Tourism Association (JTA) was visiting Istria. On Thursday, they held a meeting with the leaders of the leading destination management company in Croatia and the region, Uniline, who presented Croatia as a safe country in every respect. Great efforts and experience of Uniline in the Asian markets ensured a great interest in Croatia from the guests from South Korea.

"We can state that, after the pandemic, Croatia has returned to the Asian market as a desirable and safe destination. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, guests from this part of the world have not visited Croatia, but this summer, the first tourists have already started coming to our country, and interest is growing. At today's talks, it was announced that a significant number of groups of Korean tourists would arrive in Croatia in the coming period. Guests from South Korea highly appreciate the lifestyle and culture of the destination where they spend their vacation, and they visit Zagreb the most on their tours," said Boris Žgomba, president of Uniline's board.

Uniline opened an office in Seoul in 2017, the company's second office in East Asia after the office in Shanghai, and the long-term goal is for every tenth Korean to get to know the beauty of Croatia.

Data from the period before the pandemic showed how important the emission market of South Korea is. When choosing a holiday destination, tourists from that country especially look at safety and the price-quality ratio and that the destination is suitable for family tourism.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, more than 400,000 tourists from South Korea came to Croatia, which accounted for over 511,000 overnight stays. Before the pandemic, guests from South Korea were the second largest group of foreign guests for the City of Zagreb.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Aminess Already Recruiting in Croatia for Tourist Season 2023

November 13, 2022 - In addition to the standard conditions offered by most hotel chains, Aminess proudly points out that they have a seasonal bonus for employees of HRK 8,000, a Christmas bonus, holiday pay, children bonuses, as well as jubilee awards, and unique employee reward programs.

As Poslovni writes, Aminess hotels and camps are the first tourist company to start the search for seasonal workers next year. The campaign with the appropriate name 'Where colleagues become friends", as they say from this company, should enable them to be the first to pick the best workers looking for a job in tourism. Their hotels and camps from Istria, Krk, to the south of Dalmatia will be looking for more than a thousand workers for next season. In addition to the domestic market, the campaign is also aimed at countries in the region.

"As for employment trends, we expect them to be similar to last year. One thousand employees, with emphasis on cooks, waiters, bartenders, maids, and receptionists. This year, we are starting the recruitment campaign earlier. In January, we plan to participate in various fairs, which is a great opportunity for us to get to know our employees and for them to get to know us. We will communicate all details, positions, and conditions on our social networks", said Marina Jurić, director of human resources

In addition to the standard conditions offered by most hotel chains, Aminess proudly points out that they also have a seasonal bonus for employees of HRK 8,000, a Christmas bonus, holiday pay, children bonuses, compensation for the birth of a child, as well as jubilee awards and special employee reward programs - for the employee of the year, the employee of the month, and a prize of HRK 10,000.

"We are investing HRK 1.5 million in employee education and development in the coming period. The challenge of finding workers has been present for years; we bridge it by offering them benefits and a friendly environment. By fostering such a culture, we want to reach the best and highest quality people who want to work in tourism. With the new campaign, we are looking for people who share our values ​​and are ready to learn. We are looking for thousands of new friends open to learning, and we have several professionals to teach them. We are a company that seasonal workers are happy to return to; salary and benefits are the best reason for that, followed by the importance of learning and training that we organise and learning at the workplace from experienced colleagues. It is the Aminess atmosphere, where employees consider their colleagues to be their friends, help each other in challenges, and celebrate all successes together", Jurić pointed out.

Dalibor Matovina, director of operations, points out that they are particularly proud of that education segment, for which this company is already well known and recognised.
"We are already established for education in the food and beverage segment, but we do that in all the aspects - from reception to wellness, and we find educators on the domestic market, but we do not hesitate to reach out to foreign partners, and now we have a new partner in this for the department of housekeeping and reception which works for world-famous hotels. You can move up with us from seasonal employment to, say, the director of an object; we have several such examples," said Matovina.

Damir Čekić, director of the food and beverage department, referred to Aminess Gourmet and Aminess Lab, where top chefs and experts share their knowledge and raise the quality of the offer and the employees' skills.

"Our main idea was that people do not leave but stay part of the team; we started with dinners with Skoko, Hrvoje Zirojević also joined, as well as Matija Bogdan, and a new face is coming this year - Melkior Bašić. Our employees learn from the best. They work on themselves and gain knowledge. In addition to chefs, we also have education for bartenders and baristas. Next year, in addition to new associates who will bring new knowledge, we have the idea to raise this whole story to a higher level and to make our fine dining even more recognisable. We set the standards in our 5-star hotel, which was the last to enter our portfolio, we talked, worked, and learned every day, and most importantly, we created our own; we never copied others", said Čekić.

Martina Labinjan has been a member of the Aminess team for seven years. She emphasizes that the main advantage of working for this company is that everything is easy with them. As she says, it is simple to agree with them, the conditions are excellent, and progression is possible.

"I started as a seasonal worker; at the beginning, I was an assistant confectioner, and today I am the manager of the confectionary department. In those seven years, I met top experts. They enabled me to grow and develop," said Labinjanin.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Croatian Bureaucracy - A Love Affair: Mission Prison Impossible, the Review

November 13, 2022 - Ines Vuckovic Dizdar, a 39-year-old woman from the eastern Croatian village of Petrijevci, went to the Osijek prison to serve her three-day prison sentence but could not get in. Her friends threw her a farewell party, and she packed her suitcase and left her children with her ex-husband to finally return home on the same day. Ines left a detailed review of the Croatian prison system and her bizarre experience in the Ženski RecenziRAJ Facebook group (female reviews group). Her brilliant review was shared hundreds of times.

As Jutarnji writes, Ines was supposed to go to prison because she had accumulated fines for driving without a driver's license. When she finally did all the required hours in the driving school and passed the driving test, she went to pick up her driving license with her certificate. She found out she could not get her driver's license due to unpaid fines. So she went to the prison in July 2018 but was not provided a spot there due to overcrowding.

"I am a child from the village, I have driven a tractor since I was little, and I also learned to drive a car. It's normal there. I needed a means of transport to deliver products from the farm", said Ines, who owns a business making natural products. When she went to pick up her driver's license, the clerk told her that she thought she had seen everything and nothing could surprise her, but Ines had proven her wrong. She told Ines that it was a shame she couldn't obtain her driver's license since her photo turned out so well. "I didn't have the money to pay the fine, and the statute of limitations would only kick in after three years. I decided to do community service to pay it off, and I was tasked with washing bus stops and cleaning the town hall that was being built at the time. A job is a job; I preferred to do that rather than pay a fine", said Ines. Bus stops were often plastered with posters with adhesive coating, making removal even more difficult. Ines called a friend who sprayed them with chemicals and saved herself the trouble of scrubbing and peeling. She treated him to beer and ćevapi, but she doesn't consider it "cheating."

"My eldest daughter brought me "worker's sandwiches," and I had coffee breaks. My friends were worried about how I would feel about cleaning the bus stops because there are always those who enjoy seeing you down and making fun of you, but it wasn't a problem for me at all", says Ines. While doing community service, she paid some of the fines in installments and kept driving using her test certificate. With two installments left to pay off the fine, she was stopped by the police again. She earned a new ticket for operating a motor vehicle before becoming eligible for that and ended up in court.

"The judge was not interested in whether I passed my driving test. She nervously yelled at me to show her the driver's license, showing me hers and explaining that it had to look like that. I told her I didn't have one while looking out the window to see if I would get another fine, considering that the hearing took longer than expected", said Ines. She was sentenced to a fine of three thousand kunas, followed by three days in prison. The judge immediately warned her that it would be difficult to get into prison and mocked her as she said. "I saw it was not worth wasting my energy; the judge had some personal issues. I even wanted to hug her. It wasn't clear why she was sending me to prison in the first place when she knew I wouldn't get in", Ines recalls.

She paid the fine and tried to get her driver's license. The officer told her that she could not get a driver's license until she served three days in prison and added that the prison was full and would not accept her. She advised her to wait three years for the period of limitations to expire and then pick up her license. She immediately remembered the judge's laugh when she was sentenced to three days in prison. "I was weighing out the probability of being stopped by the police because I had to keep working and providing treatment for my sick child. I decided to serve those three days because there was no way I wouldn't be stopped in the next three years. I made an appointment with the judge", she said. She explained to the judge that she had to transport apples and dried meat to the coast and that there was a chance that she would be fined again. She begged to be sent to serve a sentence of three days in prison because she had no other way to get her driver's license.

"She looked at me in wonder over her glasses. She said that she was 56 years old and that this was the first time someone was not asking for a delay but wanted to go to prison. We both started laughing", Ines recalls. She decided to write her a referral for prison, and one of the days she was supposed to spend in prison fell on her birthday. "I was delighted and commented that I would tell my grandchildren that I spent my birthday in prison. The judge said it was not right and that she would change the dates. She entered some dates, and that was it", said the future prisoner.

The judge explained to her that there would be a problem if she got stuck in prison for the weekend because there would be a possibility that she would have to stay longer than prescribed. She was given a list of what she was allowed to bring into the prison. "The list included hygiene items that must be in transparent packaging, medicines if necessary, trousers and shoes without laces, while bras, wires, and tapes are prohibited," said Ines. She thanked the judge and started looking for a connection to break into the prison. She asked if anyone knew a guard or anyone to help her break into the prison.

"I found out that the manager was a soldier. I called my ex-husband, a colonel, to see if he knew him. They asked him what had happened to put me in prison", said Ines. Her friends threw her a party before going to prison, they teased her for days, and then advice started pouring in from all sides.

"My mom acted like I was going to a Paraguayan prison, like from the Prison Break series. She warned me not to brag and not to mess with anyone. She assured me that the state would punish those guilty, and God would judge them", Ines recalled.

The mother of four was showered with advice from her children. She tried to turn everything into a joke to make it easier for them to get through that period. She joked that she would come back with a tattoo and visible abs.

"My eldest daughter Mirna said that the prisoners would be sorry when I got out of prison, and Doris told me that she bet I would click with a prisoner and remain friends forever. My son Šimun told me not to adopt another child, while youngest daughter Tessa asked if I would stay for a long time because she would rather be with me than with her father", said Ines.

To minimise her baggage for three days, she took a shower in the morning because she decided she would not shower in prison. "I put on a cotton top, two pairs of underpants, tights, and flip-flops because it was written that I had to have slippers without laces and buckles. I took a transparent toothpaste, a toothbrush, an ID card, five hundred kunas to put on the canteen card, put a towel on my shoulder, and was on my way", Ines explained. She handed the children to her ex-husband and arrived in front of the Osijek prison in flip-flops with a towel on her shoulder.

"I came to the doorman and hoped I could do my three days. I submitted the paperwork, and soon the deputy director appeared and told me there was no room. I tried to explain that if I didn't get my driver's license, I would have to keep cleaning bus stops until I retire", Ines said.

The director told her that two cells had to remain empty due to domestic violence emergencies and investigations, and priority was given to those with sentences longer than 14 days. The Osijek prison only has one women's wing, which was fully occupied. She asked if he would admit domestic violence to her if she had a little quarrel with her ex-husband.

"The deputy came back after about 15 minutes because he had found me a place in the detention centre. They didn't give it to me in the end so that I wouldn't sue them in the human rights court. Finally, they gave me written confirmation that I came to serve the sentence of my own free will and that the system did not allow me to do so. He said that even the judge called to help me get in", added Ines.

She went to have coffee and then to get her driver's license, which she was finally able to obtain.

"When people pass their driving test, they first tell their family and friends, and I told the police first. My father used to tease me that he was saving for my brother's education and my bail", said Ines.

Last year, the period of limitations finally expired, and now she no longer has to fear going to prison and serving a sentence.

Jutarnji asked the Ministry of Justice and Administration about this particular case and published the reply:

"Persons deprived of liberty are admitted to the prison system based on the decision of the competent court. When the competent court orders pre-trial detention or orders a person to serve a prison sentence based on a final judgment, the same person is sent to and admitted to a penitentiary or prison in accordance with the court's decision. Regarding your inquiry about the "order for serving a sentence for criminal offenses," we point out that persons deprived of their liberty are sent to the prison system exclusively based on clearly prescribed legal provisions that do not know the institution of "waiting."

Convicted persons are sent to serve prison sentences based on the decision of the execution judge who is competent to send them to serve prison sentences. We emphasize that the fundamental task of the prison system is to protect society from criminals. Anyone who poses a threat to an individual, organisation, or the legal order of the Republic of Croatia, and who has committed a misdemeanor or a criminal offense for which a prison sentence is prescribed, or who, by the Law, can or should be sentenced to pre-trial detention, may be sent to the prison system.

The prison system of the Republic of Croatia will receive all persons who have been deprived of their liberty by court decisions.

When it comes to the capacities of the prison system, the Ministry of Justice and Administration is implementing a series of measures to expand the capacities. In the last three years, the capacities of the Prison in Bjelovar and the Penitentiary in Požega were renovated and expanded, parts of the Prison in Osijek were renovated, and the closed facilities of the Prison in Požega were expanded, which increased the total capacity by about 120 places.

Works are underway in Požega and Lipovica, which will provide additional capacities of closed conditions for 230 places, relieving the prisons in Osijek and Zagreb.

The Ministry of Justice and Administration has introduced electronic monitoring for parole, and the preparation of the Rulebook on the method of execution of pretrial detention in the home with the use of electronic monitoring is underway, which will further relieve the capacities of criminal authorities, says the response of the Ministry of Justice and Administration.

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