Sunday, 28 August 2022

Hotel in Budva Closed after Food Poisoning Outbreak, 12 Croatians Sick

ZAGREB, 28 August, 2022 - Montenegrin inspectors on Sunday closed the Loza Hotel in Budva after about 100 guests staying at the hotel on Saturday sought medical help due to symptoms of food poisoning.

Among the tourists, most of whom are from European countries, are 12 Croatians who were admitted to the "Danilo I" hospital in Cetinje.

The public RTCG broadcaster said on Sunday that their condition is good and that they should be released later in the day.

Inspection Directorate head Ana Vujošević said that this was the eighth time in the past few months that the Loza Hotel was being closed, noting that the hotel had reopened illegally on the previous seven occasions, which qualifies as a criminal offence.

The Montenegrin Public Health Institute said earlier that samples had been taken in all hotel areas to determine the cause of poisoning.

Most of the guests staying at the hotel have been transferred to other hotels in Budva, with the Montenegrin Ministry of Economy and Tourism covering the cost of their stay there.

Local officials late on Saturday night confirmed that around 100 tourists, most of whom were from Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Croatia, had sought medical assistance in hospitals in Kotor, Bar, and Cetinje due to gastrointestinal problems.

Health Minister Dragoslav Šćekić said in a Twitter post that Montenegrin health institutions had promptly provided the patients with the necessary medical care.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

International Cooperation Key to Cyberspace Protection, says SOA Head

ZAGREB, 28 August, 2022 - A growing number of espionage, sabotage, crime, and terrorism cases are being reported in cyberspace, a mirror of the real world, and international cooperation is key to its protection, Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) director Daniel Markić has said in an interview with Hina.

"We are proud to have excellent partners, primarily in NATO and the EU. Global experience, notably that of the United States, teaches us that it is important to be actively involved in the protection of critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks which have been increasingly threatening national security," Markić said.

Last week, elite experts of the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) conducted a joint operation with SOA against malicious cyber activity on vital Croatian networks, commending the level of organisation, visibility, and proactive approach of SOA's Cyber Security Centre, established in 2019.

Markić said the joint operation was conducted for several reasons."The USA is a strategic partner with whom we share the same values and goals and with whom we have established the highest level of trust and reliability, so we did not hesitate when we learned of this programme. We acquainted the state leadership with it, and they supported us and approved the joint operation," Markić said, noting that SOA has had ambitious goals ever since it established the centre.

"We have wanted to keep abreast of technological developments and see tangible effects on our cyber security. That is why we want to cooperate with partners who are the best in that regard. When we learned about the (USCYBERCOM) Hunt Forward programme, we expressed interest because the operation fit perfectly our needs."

US experts provided their expertise and know-how in collaboration with Croatian agents in hunting for and preventing malicious, so-called APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks which are supported by countries that perceive NATO and the EU as a security threat or challenge.

"We were given the opportunity to work with a partner with the best capabilities and know-how and to share our know-how and work methods, check our systems and tools, and share the experience of interoperability, which is very important among allies. This type of cooperation is necessary because it enhances our reach and capabilities," said Markić. 

"As a US ally and NATO member, Croatia is targeted by the same attackers as other Western countries so we were able to provide a new 'hunting ground' in the hunt for malicious actors and to share our experience and knowledge," Markić said.

The operation completely met Croatia's expectations, and the hunt was thorough and successful, with malicious attacks on Croatian state infrastructure having been prevented on several occasions, he said.

Markić underlined the importance of contacts and relationships established during the joint operation, noting that they would continue to be used to further develop partnership, interoperability, and information sharing.

During the operation, SOA defined areas that needed improvement and new goals in the development of the system and its capabilities, he said, noting that he was proud the operation had confirmed that Croatia had competent personnel, quality tools, and a well-organised system.

Speaking of cyber threats in Croatia, Markić said that they were not different from those in other NATO and EU member states.

"The intentions and interests of state-sponsored attackers are best evidenced by data which show that they mostly target the IT systems of the ministries of foreign affairs and defence, while in recent years we have also been registering attacks on other state institutions," he said, noting that in 2021 the number of state-sponsored cyber attacks was up 40% from 2020.

In addition to the growing number of ATP attacks on state institutions in Croatia, there has also been an increase in such attacks on companies, Markić said, noting that the system had proven to be very good in responding to the threats and that joint operations such as the latest one would help further consolidate the system in the protection of the national cyberspace.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Croatia Logs 501 COVID Cases, 12 Deaths

ZAGREB, 28 Aug (Hina) - In the last 24 hours, 501 coronavirus cases, out of 2,225 tests, and 12 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID crisis management team said on Sunday.

There are 5,951 active cases, including 636 hospitalised patients, 22 of whom are on ventilators, while 4,002 persons are isolating.

Croatia has registered 1,211,920 coronavirus cases to date, the death toll stands at 16,658, and 70.87% of adults have been vaccinated, including 68.84% fully.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Split County Police Department Issues Communication Manual for Officers

ZAGREB, 28 August, 2022 - The Split-Dalmatia County police department has published a communication manual for police officers, which includes instructions on impression formation and what they should and should not do when communicating with citizens.

The booklet includes tips on how to conduct interviews and interrogations in a police station, how to talk to victims of violence, what to do when contacted by a citizen with a complaint, or how to de-escalate a crisis situation.

The author of this manual, the first of this kind in Croatia, is Marko Doljanin, the head of the police station in the town of Trogir.

Doljanin has recently told Hina that communication skills are very important in policing.

The more trust citizens have in the police, the more willing they are to comply with police decisions and cooperate and the more reassured they are of the professionalism of police officers, Doljanin said.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Finnish Influencers Break the Law for a Swim in Blue Cave in Croatia

August 28, 2022 - The secret is out, Croatia is a beautiful country with untouched nature, delicious food, and some of the friendliest people. This kingdom of accidental tourism is still relatively new on the world vacation scene, but it is coming up quickly and aggressively. Whether that is family or active holidays, luxury escapes or hot girl summers, the demand has been incredible. The question is, can we take it? Is Croatia equipped to deal with the massive influx of vacationers? Not that it's all on us - are our guests too self-entitled to care? UNESCO heritage site rules don't seem to bother influencers.

The popularity and the fame that come with becoming known as one of the top world tourist countries come with some significant numbers. Numbers, of course, are people, and people, unfortunately, are not always very nice. TCN has been covering the tourist season 2022 extensively, and though it has not always been the best news, credit where credit's due - the institutions have been working together to implement strategies and rules to try and keep the rowdy crowds under control. Now, many problems remain, as witnessed in some of the scenes from Split, and not all strategies have immediate effect. 

To enjoy and share a tourist gem such as Croatia, while managing it all in a smart way is not an easy task. Unfortunately for some, not all experiences can be exclusive, and the effort needs to go both ways (effort very loosely defined here). Let's not be oblivious to the fact that Croatia needs good marketing just as much as tired holidaymakers and excited adventurers need Croatia. After the rise of social media, influencer marketing on Instagram has become a valuable tool for destinations and tourist boards, as well as hospitality providers. The relationship between the businesses is often based on an exchange of services, with, e.g., hotels offering free luxury accommodation for marketing content on social media. The problem arises with the fact that social media influencers need to become big before they can start making a living from their influencer business. Now, since the market is already so saturated, they will often go out of their way to seem more interesting, fun, a little bit daring, whatever it takes to be noticed. 

Like any sought-after market, Croatia has had its share of such encounters. More recently, we've had the pleasure of viewing and enjoying the adventures of Sabina Särkkä and Julia Toivola, the interesting friends of the Finnish PM. A few particularly lucky crew and passengers on a random Jadrolinija ferry even had access to some exclusive content. Both of them, alongside others from their group, have been publicly sharing on her Instagram all about their summer in Croatia, stay in Hvar, sailing the islands, swimming, partying, and just enjoying life. We are grateful for her enthusiasm, especially the ferry mentioned above. The question for the Croatian authorities, though, is what makes them special?


Screenshots: Sabina Sarkka and Julia Toivola Instagram stories, highlights CROATIA SAILING and Croatia sail, still active on their profiles

As Index writes, in their Instagram stories, both Sabina and Julia publicly shared videos of their group swimming in the Blue Cave in Biševo, where swimming is strictly prohibited to preserve the wildlife. The Blue Cave, a UNESCO Heritage site is famous for its unique colour which is a phenomenon that occurs around specific times of the day when the sun hits the inside of the cave in just the right way to highlight its anatomy and reflect the most beautiful blue of the Adriatic Sea. Visits to the cave are only possible with paid tickets, and don't last long due to the demand and the crowds keen to witness the beauty every day. In Sabina and Julia's videos, where the location was clearly marked, it looked like the group of friends not only enjoyed the visit in private, but also the opportunity to soak in the beauty in a way in which simple folk would not, by taking a little swim right in the middle of the Blue Cave. Whether or not they were fined for it we don't know, but in a world where the only thing we ask of you is to respect our environment to preserve it for both me and you, please, don't be like the above-mentioned influencers. It's not that hard.

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


Sunday, 28 August 2022

Investigators Freeze Assets of Suspects in Gas Trading Scam

ZAGREB, 27 Aug (Hina) - Investigators have frozen assets worth more than HRK 800 million belonging to five persons arrested on Saturday on suspicion of wrongdoing in gas trading and money laundering, while the damage they are believed to have caused to the INA oil company is estimated at more than HRK 800 million.

The operation, launched early on Saturday morning by the USKOK anti-corruption office and police, targeted Damir Škugor, an executive in INA, Josip Šurjak, president of the Croatian Bar Association, Šurjak's business partner Goran Husić, with whom Šurjak owns the OMS Upravljanje company, Škugor's father, and Marija Ratkić, management board chair at the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas company.

Following the arrests in Zagreb, Šibenik, Vinkovci, and on Hvar island, investigators searched the suspects' homes and business offices, including Škugor's office at INA and the Zagreb-based law firm of attorney Šurjak, who was arrested on Hvar.

Decision on investigation, custody on Sunday

Following the arrests, the suspects were questioned at USKOK, which is expected to say on Sunday if an investigation would be launched into the suspects and a request be made to place them in custody.

The suspects, who prosecutors want to be placed in month-long custody, will be brought on Sunday before an investigating judge who will decide on the prosecutors' motion.

According to unofficial reports, the suspects siphoned money from INA through OMS Ulaganja, which was established in 2019. Already in the first year of doing business, the company reportedly earned revenue in the amount of more than HRK 220 million.

The suspects allegedly took advantage of the constant rise in gas prices on the world market, with OMS Ulaganja buying gas below market prices from Plinara Istočna Slavonija, which had a gas purchase agreement with INA from before with favourable prices, and selling it on the international market at market prices.

Millions of kuna in Šibenik pensioner's bank accounts 

They allegedly spent the money thus obtained on real estate, with most of it ending up in the bank account of Damir Škugor's father, a pensioner living in Šibenik.

Without naming the suspects, USKOK said the arrests and urgent gathering of evidence were a result of a criminal investigation being conducted with the police anti-corruption office PNUSKOK, the Money Laundering Prevention Office, and the Tax Administration's financial investigations division.

USKOK said that after the suspects were questioned, it would make a decision on a further course of action.

Police said that after the criminal investigation, they would file a criminal complaint against the suspects with USKOK and place them in custody.

(€1 = HRK 7.51)

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Grbin: Announcement about INA Buyback Came to Nothing, Plunder Continues

ZAGREB, 27 August, 2022 - SDP leader Peđa Grbin said on Saturday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's announcement about a plan to buy back Hungarian energy group MOL's stake in Croatian peer INA had come to nothing while the plunder at the once successful company was continuing, a reference to arrests made earlier in the day.

Earlier on Saturday several persons, including an INA executive, were arrested on suspicion of abuse of trust in doing business and money laundering in gas trading, which, according to available information, has caused damage to INA in the amount of more than HRK 100 million.

"Six years ago Plenković announced INA's buyback. Meanwhile, nothing has happened in that regard except for the fact that the gang has continued plundering the once successful company," Grbin said in a Facebook post.

He wondered how it was possible for hundreds of millions of kuna to disappear from the company without anybody noticing it until the money appeared in a pensioner's bank account.

"What were INA's Supervisory Board (this is also a question for (Economy Minister Davor) Filipović and Management Board doing? Have we learned today the real reason why Tomislav Ćorić had to leave the government? And is it just a coincidence that the persons arrested are people who have made donations to the HDZ, the link that connects them all?" Grbin said in his post.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Shots Fired at SDP Headquarters, No Casualties

ZAGREB, 27 August, 2022 - Shots were fired at the main offices of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in downtown Zagreb on Friday afternoon but fortunately there were no casualties even though employees were in the building at the time of the shooting, the party said on Saturday.

"The SDP is appalled at and strongly condemns this act. Any violence against or an attack on the property of any party is unacceptable and deplorable, especially an act as dangerous and mindless as this one," the party said.

An on-the-site investigation was carried out due to damage caused to a window on the building, the SDP said, adding that it believed the police would find the perpetrator as soon as possib

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Croatia Reports 14.4 mn Arrivals, 82.6 mn Overnights to Date

ZAGREB, 27 August, 2022 - According to data from the eVistor system, this year Croatia has been visited by 14.4 million tourists who have generated 82.6 million overnight stays, which are increases of 42% and 28% respectively compared to 2021.

The latest figures account for 90% of the arrivals and 96% of the overnight stays reported in 2019, which saw record-high tourism figures.

The number of overnight stays so far has been the highest in Istria and Split-Dalmatia counties, Kvarner, and in Zadar and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties.

Guests from Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Poland account for the largest number of overnight stays this year.

Currently, 943,000 tourists are staying in the country, including 846,000 foreign visitors.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

MOST: Government Manipulating Figures on Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 27 August, 2022 - MOST party member of parliament Nikola Grmoja and Sisak-Moslavina County Assembly member Luca Gašpar Šako said on Saturday the government was manipulating figures on the post-earthquake reconstruction process in Sisak-Moslavina County.

"It is not true that 3,500 houses have been repaired and that construction work and investments have been underway. Twenty months after the earthquake dangerous structures have not been removed yet," Gašpar Šako, a member of the MOST party, said.

Structures damaged in the 29 December 2020 earthquake have started collapsing, she said, adding that wooden prefabricated houses, which take 60 days to build, had not been built even after eight months because state agencies "choose contractors who are criminals."

"Right after the earthquake, they refused help from other countries in the reconstruction process because it meant that they would not be able to profit from the process. Their notion of reconstruction is to issue, one year after the earthquake, decisions under which about 40% of the facilities damaged in the earthquake, which were marked with red labels requiring demolition, suddenly obtain green labels," Gašpar Šako said, announcing a county assembly session to which competent government ministers would be invited to give answers to questions bothering citizens.

MOST MP Nikola Grmoja said it was unacceptable that the construction of prefab houses took eight months and that this was not only due to crime but also incompetence.

"It is not normal that 20 months since the earthquake (state authorities) do not have lists of the people who are staying in housing containers that are not part of container settlements," Grmoja said.

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