Thursday, 24 March 2022

HRT Loses Case Against Reporter Who Accused It Of Censorship

ZAGREB, 24 March 2022 - Zadar County Court has rejected an appeal by the HRT public broadcaster against reporter Hrvoje Zovko and upheld a Zagreb Municipal Court ruling that the statement by Zovko, who is president of the Croatian Journalists' Association, about censorship at HRT was not contentious or false.

The court also ruled that Zovko's statement did not hurt the HRT's reputation, the HND reported on its website on Thursday.

"This is a great victory for me, my family and my attorney and proof that I have been telling the truth all along," said Zovko.

He said the final ruling in the case was also a "defeat of the policy pursued by the public media service at the time when Kazimir Bačić, a former inmate of the Remetinac jail, was at its helm" and when all the lawsuits against him were filed.

"This is a great victory for HND and the journalist profession. The ruling confirms the real situation at the HRT's News Desk, which is something we have been warning of for years," said Zovko.

The ruling notes that Zovko made statements that HRT considers contentious after the broadcaster fired him and that HRT was the first to go public about the dismissal. Zovko's statements were a reaction to HRT's public statement about the reasons for his dismissal, the court ruled.

The court also found that the motive for Zovko to make the statements was determined correctly and that the statements were a justified response to ill-intentioned attempts to publicly discredit him.

The court ruled that testimonies by witnesses for the defence were convincing and sincere.

The court further determined that the working atmosphere and environment at HRT had for a long time prior to Zovko's statements been such that it could prompt a large number of persons, including the indictee, to conclude that there was a certain degree of restriction on employees to freely express their opinions and ideas.

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

 

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

HRT Television Channels Get New Editor-In-Chief

ZAGREB, 16 March 2022 - HRT director-general Robert Šveb on Wednesday decided to appoint Rahela Štefanović the editor-in-chief of the national broadcaster's television channels HTV1, HTV2, HTV3, HTV4 and its international channel.

Štefanović's appointment followed after 79.78% of the editors, journalists and photo-journalists of the HRT who participated in a non-binding advisory vote supported her nomination.

There are 1,356 journalists and staffers eligible to take part in this kind of vote, and 178 or 13.13% participated in it.

Štefanović will succeed Bruno Kovačević on 21 March.

 

Business: For more, check out our business section.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Protesters Rally Outside HRT, Demand End to “Censorship”

ZAGREB, 20 Nov, 2021 - Protesters against COVID-19 certificates on Saturday evening moved from Zagreb's central square to the part of the city where the HRT public broadcaster is located, demanding to see the HRT director and have their rally covered live and calling for an end to "censorship" by the HRT.

Dissatisfied with the way the HRT covered their protest in the central city square at 3 p.m., the protesters shouted "We want elections", "Referendum and people's rule", "Thieves", "Treason", "God's law is above all laws", demanding to see the HRT director and have their rally covered live.

The protesters were met by riot police, with a dozen police vehicles blocking access to the HRT building.

Some of the protesters demanded to see the editor in chief and that the protest be broadcast live, claiming that the HRT "cannot be a factory of censorship" and that "the HRT is lying to the Croatian people, spreading fear and enemy propaganda."

Claiming that they did not want to force anything on anyone and did not want others to do it to them, and shouting "We want truth" and "People rules" and singing patriotic songs, they continued to demand a response by the HRT, saying that "people want to say what they think" and the public broadcaster has the duty to report about it.

"This is no vaccine, this is poison", someone in the crowd could be heard saying while some protesters said the world was ruled by "Bill Gates, Talmudists and Soros's followers".

An HRT employee told the protesters that there was no one in the building they could talk to, to which they responded with shouts however the protest continued mostly without incidents and around 8 p.m. the protesters started to disperse.

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Monday, 15 November 2021

HND Says HRT Executive Sues Two of Its Vice-Presidents

ZAGREB, 15 Nov 2021 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Monday warned that the head of the HRT public broadcaster's "Business operation" unit, Mislav Stipić, has filed a private slander lawsuit against two HND vice-presidents, thus continuing a string of lawsuits against reporters and HND leaders.

Stipić has sued HND vice-presidents Branko Mijić and Goran Gazdek over a statement published on 12 March under the title "Bačić's taking to court leading people of the HND and Croatian Trade Union new attack on media freedoms", the HND said in a statement.

The latest case continues the shameful string of lawsuits against reporters that have made Croatia recognizable in the EU as a country where power-wielders use lawsuits to square accounts with reporters and media, thus threatening journalistic and media freedoms, the HND says, noting that Croatia has been at the bottom of EU rankings with regard to respect for media freedoms.

HND president Hrvoje Zovko said this was yet another attack on the HND by Stipić but the HND would continue speaking and warning about the situation at the HRT as well as his role in it. 

Stipić resented allegations in the said statement that former HRT director Kazimir Bačić, dismissed over corruption charges, targeted anyone who had dared speak up publicly about serious accusations of sexual harassment and mobbing, made against Stipić by an HRT employee and corroborated by two other employees, which Bačić tried to cover up, the HND said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Croatia's Participation in Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Confirmed

September 19, 2021 - HRT confirms Croatia's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. The selection of Croatia's entry for Italy will once again be crowned through the Dora competition.

Croatia is again getting ready for the 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and is undeniably in high spirits. As HRT recently posted, “The beautiful September weather only contributes to the preparations for Dora and Eurovision 2022, which are in full swing! The Croatian national final for the Eurovision Song Contest will begin soon, so stay with us for more information.”

Since the country's debut in 1993, Dora has been used to select Croatia's entry for Eurovision except between 2012 to 2018 when Croatia had undergone a series of internal selections and withdrawals. In 2019, Dora returned and has been used ever since. 

According to Eurovoix, Dora 2022 is expected to take place in Opatija. The city has hosted all editions of the show except in 2011. Opatija and HRT signed a three-year deal to host Glazbeni Dani Hrvatske Radiotelevizije, which Dora is a part of.

Last year, Albina was chosen to represent Croatia in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Tick-Tock". With the votes of the jury and public, the song made it in the top ten but landed 11th in the semi-final and did not qualify for the finals.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Italy on May 22 following their victory with Maneskin's "Zitti e buoni" at the 2021 Eurovision contest. 

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

HRT National Broadcaster to Air Series About NDH

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - "NDH", a series of the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) about the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia, will start on Monday, 20 September and its author, historian Hrvoje Klasić, says it should have been aired much sooner, while the HRT rejects claims about deliberately not broadcasting the series.

"I only know that this series should have been finished much sooner. But it hasn't been. And that was not because of us as the crew, and it should have aired sooner. Again, not because of us, but because of the HRT," Klasić told Hina.

On the other hand, the public broadcaster's acting Director-General, Renato Kunić, said that no show had been deliberately not aired during his term as the director of programming and during his colleagues' terms.

He added that the NDH series was put on hold for several reasons. More specifically, an adequate schedule had to be found for the 12 episodes because that is three months of airing, and the programme budget has its rules, Kunić said.

He also said that the series cost about HRK 1.5 million and that the difference between the six episodes initially proposed by Klasić and the 12 realised episodes was about half a million kuna, and he stressed that this was a matter of assessment when to air the programme and not a ban, adding that the series was finished in June 2020.

Both Klasić and the HRT agreed that this was a long-awaited project in which about 30 members of the academic community and historians would talk about the NDH, and it would be illustrated by over two hours of film material on the NDH, purchased from the Yugoslav Film Archive.

Klasić underlined the valuable contribution of HRT's director and co-writer Miljenko Bukovčan and editor Iva Blašković.

Klasić: Series is neither ideological nor tendentious

"I would like to warn the viewers -- there are 12 episodes and this was not done in an ideological or tendentious way," Klasić said, adding that the series was not chronological but organised thematically.

"Everything that is said is enough to understand that moment -- the temporal, socio-political context, to understand what that state was and what kind of life its citizens had," he said.

The goal was not, he pointed out, to create a lexicon in which everything would be listed, but to give a description and an analysis of a time, and top experts from the entire region and Europe helped with that.

Klasić also explained his statement in Jutarnji List daily that "there are no conflicting opinions, but only because right-wing historians did not want to participate".

"When we talk about the NDH, there are no conflicting opinions among historians and scientists who care about their scientific reputation. Not among scientists in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sweden or in Washington," Klasić said.

Some have merely focused more on a particular period. Of course, there may be different opinions on how to approach the number of victims in Jasenovac or after Bleiburg, he added.

"However, when we talk about the character of the Ustasha-ruled state, the NDH, about the character of the Jasenovac camp or about what happened in May 1945, there is in principle no disagreement," Klasić said.

The series was shot on numerous locations, from the Vatican and Sachsenhausen, to Bleiburg and Jasenovac, Janka Puszta (Jankovac), but also Florence, where there is still the villa which Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić, Klasić said, got for his services in the future annexation of parts of the Croatian Adriatic as Mussolini's "man for special assignments".

Special episodes are dedicated to the economy and culture during the NDH, as well as the relationship between the Ustasha regime and the church.

"A large part of the series focuses on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Ustasha movement. Many say that the Church used the Ustasha, but I believe that it was vice versa and many historians agree on that. Alojzije Stepinac was not a war criminal but he definitely was not an example of antifascist resistance," said Klasić.

As for possible negative reactions to the series, Klasić said he expected them from those who "have been reviving the NDH for the past 30 years."

"It is to be expected because we live in a country where abnormal things have become normal, including the Ustasha salute, where about 20 streets have been named after members of the Ustasha regime and where there are associations that deny Jasenovac," Klasić said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Saturday, 28 August 2021

30th Anniversary of HRT Cameraman Kaić’s Killing in Osijek Commemorated

ZAGREB, 28 Aug, 2021 - Wreath-laying ceremonies were held on Saturday in Osijek at the "Last Shot" monument erected in memory of HRT cameraman Žarko Kaić, killed by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) in that eastern Croatian city on 28 August 1991.

Kaic lost his life in the suburb of Brijest when fire was opened from a JNA armoured fighting vehicle at the HRT crew that was covering the passage of a JNA column of tanks through Osijek.

Participants in today's commemoration pointed out that Kaić had been covering the war developments in Slavonia at the start of the Great Serbian aggression.

His work conveyed the truth about the war and the beginning of the Great Serbia aggression, the war veterans ministry's state secretary, Špiro Janović, said at today''s commemorative events.

The truth cannot be interpreted differently, and Kaić's recordings of the events in Osijek, Aljmaš and Dalj show the suffering of the Croatian people and the resolve of Croatian soldiers, Janović said.

In that incident 30 years ago, Kaić was killed while an HRT sound operator, Dragan Krička, was seriously wounded and the third member of the TV crew, journalist Saša Kopljar, remained unwounded.

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Thursday, 15 July 2021

Parliament Relieves Bačić of His Duties as HRT Director-General

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - Kazimir Bačić, who was recently arrested on suspicion of graft, was on Thursday relieved of his duties as Director-General of the HRT public broadcasting service by 116 to two votes.

The parliament also appointed the current Director of Programming Renato Kunić acting Director-General, and this decision was supported by 77 lawmakers, two abstentions and 42 MPs voted against it.

In early July, the HRT Supervisory Board unanimously agreed at an extraordinary meeting to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Bačić after he was arrested.

USKOK corruption investigators suspect that Bačić, acting on behalf of businessman Milan Lončarić, took €50,000 in a bribe to the late Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić for the Gardens of Light project. As a reward for his role, Bačić is believed to have been given an apartment worth HRK 1 million (€133,300) in central Zagreb.

The parliament today dismissed a proposal made by Social Democrat Arsen Bauk that Kunić should be encouraged to withdraw HRT defamation lawsuits which the broadcaster had filed against some of its journalists. It was Bačić who had previously initiated those actions.

For more on Croatian politics, both local and national, make sure to bookmark our dedicated politics section and stay in the loop.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Strongly condemns violence after LGTBIQ Pride Parade

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence that had occurred after the LGTBIQ Pride Parade in Zagreb on Saturday. 

"That is unacceptable, Croatia is a free country and everyone should be what they are. Human rights and the rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities, should be respected," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

"Croatia is big enough for everyone to be free," he stressed.

Plenković recalled that Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights Boris Milošević had also condemned the physical assaults on members of the LGBTIQ community, noting that what Milošević wrote in his Facebook post was on behalf of the whole cabinet.

"I totally agree with him. I think that violence and inciting to violence is unacceptable. And now (Bridge MPs) Petrov and Grmoja are crying because they have received threats, they were obviously perceived as some kind of inciters. I receive such threats on a daily and weekly basis and I don't speak about it with anyone. One learns to cope with it, while they are now crying about it," the PM said.

"The worst actors on the scene are those who are exclusive, and I want us to build an inclusive society in which everyone will advocate and stand behind their values and in which everyone will be able to ensure an education for their children based on the values that they have and share. Things should not be imposed on anyone. If someone is different, respect them, they also have their freedom and their choices. We must build a society that is inclusive, that's the most important thing, and I don't see why it should be any different," he added. 

He said that people in Croatia needed a little encouragement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while certain actors in society needed encouragement to be more tolerant. "That will come about, I am optimistic."

Milanović's double standards

Plenković also talked about the environmental devastation of Vruja Cove on the southern Dalmatian coast and Sunday's protest rally ironically called the Illegal Construction and Nature Devastation Festival, where protesters called out Stipe Latković, a businessman from Split and a friend and donor of President Milanović.

Asked why the government was not acting, given that the property in case is state-owned, Plenković said that the relevant inspectorate had issued a number of decisions, "which obviously were not complied with", and imposed fines,

"Those decisions were made not just this year but for many years, and now these campaigners for (an independent) judiciary, who are accusing the judiciary, as Milanović is, of being under the control of the (ruling) HDZ, are protecting these illegal builders. This is a fantastic example of double standards," Plenković said.

He said that this was not the only "brilliant" example of double standards, citing the cases of Constitutional Court judge Andrej Abramović, who used a garden hose to pour water on his neighbours, SDP MP Marina Opačak Bilić, who is suspected of economic crime, and Sisak mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček who failed to provide requested documents to USKOK anti-corruption investigators.

"All these are double standards of campaigners for an independent judiciary, and here I mean Milanović," the prime minister said.

 Bačić's arrest not pleasant for either HRT or Parliament

Commenting on the arrest of the director-general of the HRT public broadcasting service, Kazimir Bačić, on suspicion of corruption, Plenković said that the judicial authorities were acting completely independently and impartially.

"I don't want to speculate about anyone's responsibility, but the situation is not pleasant either for the HRT or for the Croatian parliament which appointed Bačić," he said.

The parliamentary Media Committee is meeting today to discuss the proposal to relieve Bačić of his duties and appoint an acting director-general. 

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

USKOK Investigators Conducting Probe in Zagreb City Administration Offices

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

Tomašević said in a brief press release that the new city administration fully supported the independence of state institutions and would continue advocating the transparency of work of the city administration, all city departments, companies, institutions and the related businesses.

Media say HRT director arrested

Several people were arrested on Wednesday morning on the suspicion of corruption, including, according to media reports, the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić.

USKOK and police have not confirmed these reports, but media say that the suspicion of corruption refers mostly to transactions of the previous Zagreb city administration at the end of 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Bačić was allegedly arrested over a suspicious contract he signed on behalf of HRT with the Tvornica Žarulja light bulb factory.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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