Sunday, 28 February 2021

Filipović: I Do Not Expect Problems in Zagreb's Functioning

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The candidate of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for Zagreb mayor, Davor Filipović, on Sunday sent his condolences to the family, associates and friends of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, saying that he does not expect problems in the functioning of the City of Zagreb.

Filipović told reporters he did not expect any problems in the functioning of the City of Zagreb as there were deputy mayors and the City Assembly would continue to function normally until the election of a new mayor on 16 May.

Filipović did not want to answer reporters' questions about the late mayor Bandić and his legacy.

"You will allow me to make no other statements at this time, except for expressing my deepest condolences to his family, friends and associates," he added.

As for the upcoming local election campaign, he said that he had been expecting a fierce political struggle, which had been cut short today.

Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić died of a heart attack aged 65 early on Sunday.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

President Extends Condolences to Zagreb Mayor's Family

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Sunday extended his condolences to the family of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who died of a heart attack earlier today aged 65.

"I extend my condolences and sympathy to the members of the family of Mr Milan Bandić, the mayor of Zagreb, on his sudden and too early death," Milanović said in a social medium post.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Bandić's Mayoral Terms Plagued by Many Corruption Scandals

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The mayoral terms of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who died of a heart attack aged 65 on Sunday, were plagued by many scandals, only two of which ended with non-final court verdicts, although more than 250 criminal complaints were filed against him.

In October 2014, Bandić and several of his closest associates were arrested on suspicion of crimes at the expense of the City of Zagreb, including illegal favouring and hiring, waste management, the use of official cars for private purposes and forging documents in a case later dubbed Agram.

After one month in custody, Bandić was released on HRK 15 million kuna bail. He was not allowed to return to work, sign acts nor communicate with city employees. He ended back in custody due to witness tampering and was released following a Constitutional Court decision.

Earlier this month, the High Administrative Court quashed a Conflict of Interest Commission decision under which Bandić failed to perform his duty honourably and independently because he received HRK 15 million from the Hanžeković and Partners law firm as bail to be released from custody as well as contributions from citizens after the 2009 presidential election in which he had run.

In April 2018, the Zagreb County Court upheld seven counts of the indictment in the Agram case for illegal activities at the expense of the city, while three counts relating to waste management were returned to the prosecution for elaboration and were upheld in October 2019.

The trial in the Agram case is under way. At a hearing this past Wednesday, an expert on waste management testified that the terms in a non-public tender were adjusted to the possibilities and permits of companies from the CIOS group, owned by Petar Pripuz, Bandić's co-defendant.

The Zagreb County Court also tried Bandić for favouring the In the Name of the Family NGO. He was acquitted pending appeal in October 2018. The Supreme Court has still not ruled on the appeals.

Milan Bandić served as the mayor of the Croatian capital city from 2000 until his sudden death on Sunday morning.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Tomašević: I'm Sorry We Won't Face Off in Local Elections

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - Zagreb City Assembly member and candidate for Zagreb mayor, Tomislav Tomašević, sent his condolences to the family of the deceased mayor Milan Bandić, expressing regret that they will not face off in the upcoming local elections.

"I express my condolences to the Bandić family. Since it is well known that I am his longtime political opponent, in that sense I am sorry that we will not face off in the upcoming local elections," Tomašević told a press conference.

At the press conference, Tomašević was supposed to speak about the neglect of public infrastructure and lack of investment in the Staro Trnje neighbourhood, but instead he decided to make a statement about the mayor's sudden death early on Sunday.

He said he had been shocked by the news, and the last time he saw Bandić, he said, was at a session of the Assembly's presidency, at which the next session of the City Assembly was discussed.

Then, he said, he spoke with the mayor about how to help citizens whose houses had been so damaged in the earthquake that they had to be demolished and how city companies could help.

Tomašević did not want to answer questions about the late mayor because he thinks that is not appropriate today.

"The political issue in Zagreb is difficult, the problems are big, there will be opportunities to talk about that in the coming days in the campaign," he added.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

SDP Says it Will Remember Bandić for His Talent for Populism

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP), whose member the deceased Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić used to be until late 2009, said on Sunday that they would remember Bandić for his undeniable talent for populism.

Bandić was erased from the SDP membership in 2009 before the Croatian presidential election when he defied the then party leadership's suggestion that he should not run for the president. When he and the SDP parted their ways, Bandić ran for the country's president as an independent candidate. In the presidential runoff in January 2010, he was defeated by the SDP candidate Ivo Josipović.

After it was reported on Sunday morning that Bandić, 65, died of a massive heart attack, the current SDP leader Peđa Grbin wrote on the party's Facebook account that Bandić's mayoral terms since 2000 were marked by "many controversies, scandals and court proceedings."

"We will remember him for his undeniable talent for populism, and as a politician who passed away suddenly as 'lifelong mayor", who has not lived to see the day of his political end which should have happened in May." Croatia will hold local elections on 16 May.

Grbin said that Bandić's way of running the city today passed into history.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić Dead, Heart Attack, Aged 65 Years Old

February 28, 2021 – Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has died. At the time of his death, he was the longest-serving capital city mayor in the world and was aged 65 years old.

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has died. At the time of his death, he was the longest-serving capital city mayor in the world. And he was aged 65 years.

News of the death of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić was released by official city authorities early in the hours of Sunday 28 February 2021.

gradonacelnik_Milan_Bandićdead.jpgZagreb Mayor Milan Bandić © Grad Zagreb

Death of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić: the city of Zagreb official statement:

“In deep sorrow, we inform our fellow citizens, associates, friends, the Zagreb and Croatian public that suddenly, today, February 28, at the age of 66, the Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Mr. Milan Bandić, died of a heart attack.

He lived for his city, for the people of Zagreb who were in the first place in everything he did, for the job he did with love and energy, bringing in his whole self - without the rest, for 21 years.

We will inform the public about the details, the date of the funeral, the holding of the commemorative gathering, as well as other information related to this sad news.

Rest in peace.”

Croatian media reports that Mr. Bandić fell ill shortly after 11.30pm on Saturday 27 February. It was initially reported that he was at home at the time of falling ill. However, it was later revealed that he had been attended by an ambulance and paramedics at an altogether different address, that of a friend. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance was called to his apartment on Bužanova ulica. Paramedics at the scene attempted to resuscitate Mr. Bandić for 45 minutes before taking him to Sveti Duh hospital, say the media. It would appear that efforts made to revive the mayor were sadly unsuccessful.

He served in the position for 21 years. At the time of his death, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić was the longest-serving capital city mayor in the world.

picdeathmil.jpgGrad Zagreb screenshot

Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić: his life

Milan Bandić was born 22 November 1955 in the small hamlet of Bandića Brig, a part of Cerov Dolac in the municipality of Grude, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He excelled at athletics in his school years and after graduation, he received a scholarship from the municipality of Grude. This enabled him to go to Zagreb in 1974 to study at university. He enrolled at the Faculty of Political Science (and Journalism).

Over the course of many interviews he gave while in office, Mr. Bandić revealed that in his earliest positions he had worked as an unskilled labourer. However, he was gregarious and a good talker. He improved his employment status by entering local politics.

Following Croatia's independence, there was a change to the structure (and names) of the political entities to which politicians belonged. In 1993, Mr. Bandić became secretary of the SDP City Committee. In 1995, he entered the Zagreb City Assembly as a councilor. Two years later, in 1997, he became president of the Zagreb SDP. In 2000, after securing the largest share of votes, he started his first tenure in the position of mayor of Zagreb.

180509_inicijativagradzzzzgg_1_1_1.jpgGrad Zagreb

Milan Bandić: tenure as Mayor of Zagreb

As his years in the powerful position continued, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić attracted severe criticism from some quarters. He was linked to many scandals and Croatian media estimates that around 250 criminal charges were filed against him. He remained popular enough with segments of Zagreb's population to retain his position in a series of re-elections.

During his tenure as mayor, the city of Zagreb changed considerably. Several new suburbs were built. Housing was provided for a large number of the city's Roma residents. Transport within the city improved. Zagreb became an increasingly more tolerant and safer city. It also became more international.

People from all over the world came to visit the city and Zagreb became Croatia's most popular city destination for tourists (for instance, Zagreb Advent was initiated while Mr. Bandić was in office). Moreover, many internationals moved to live in Zagreb during his tenure, adding to the city's cosmopolitan feel. Many of Mr Bandić's detractors say that improvements in the city occurred in spite of him rather than because of him.

Death of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić: consequences

Zagreb mayoral elections are due to take place in 2021. The unexpected death of Mr. Bandić now holds considerable implications for their running and outcome. Many had expected Mr. Bandić to win yet another term. Sections of the Croatian media and political class had offered the opinion that, in some cases, weak candidates were being fielded by specific political parties in opposition to the mayor. Many regarded Mr. Bandić as untoppleable. Others still voiced their opinion that the fielding of weaker candidates was motivated by a desire to maintain the status quo and allow Mr. Bandić to pass without serious obstruction into another term. Such accusations were strenuously denied. As of 21 February 2021, some 12 persons had announced their candidacies for the forthcoming Zagreb mayoral elections. Whatever the outcome of these elections, this year's race will now be missing a candidate ever-present within them for the last two decades.

Mr. Bandic is survived by his wife Vesna who, famously, he married twice, and their daughter Ana Marija

textdeath.jpgGrad Zagreb screenshot

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Monday, 15 February 2021

Zagreb Reconstruction to Include Green Parks, New Car Garages and More?

February the 15th, 2021 - Is the new Zagreb reconstruction process set to include far more and be much greener than we could have imagined when the earthquake struck the capital in March last year?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, green development is on the way as the desire to create a proper framework for a green Zagreb reconstruction and thus a real basis for more green development aimed at the reconstruction and decarbonisation of the construction fund. All of the anove was promisingly announced by Ivica Rovis from the Institute for Physical Planning of the City of Zagreb. The institute is otherwise leading the development of a pilot project called Blok_19, which Mayor Milan Bandic should present on the anniversary of the March earthquake in Zagreb this year.

The pilot project regards a block of buildings bordering the city streets of Dalmatinska, Frankopanska, Ilica and Meduliceva, and the powers that be in the city in close cooperation with experts involved in the so-called Council for the Coordination of Activities Related to the Development of the Complete Reconstruction Programme of Zagreb's Historic Centre have been working on it for almost a year now.

The council has a president, a vice president and as many as 22 experts. The idea was to analyse all of Zagreb's blocks in this way, but considering that Block 19 has been being analysed for a year now, the question is when anything would be actually end up being restored if the entire city was taken into consideration in the same manner. In general, Block 19 should be a concretisation of the solution planned for the Gornji and Donji Grad as well as Kaptol.

The traffic study for this Zagreb reconstrution project with a primary focus on being green, as has since been found out, was made for the three previously mentioned locations, and it envisages the construction of a larger number of garages for the local population, the abolition of parking on the streets and the removal of cars from the centre.

''We'd move much more towards the opening of city blocks, which would allow pedestrians to move faster, and a larger number of bike paths would be created. Namely, after the earthquake, the government offered the citizens of Zagreb money to buy water heaters and pay for any emergency repairs, as well as a legal framework for the co-financing of any constructive Zagreb reconstruction, and the City of Zagreb has additional plans on top of that, too.

A Dalmatian-style park would make Zagreb become even greener, maybe another passage would open, two garages would find their place underground, the city's facades would become photosensitive, the buildings would be made resistant to destructive earthquakes and fully energetically renovated, traffic would be adapted and decarbonised,'' recounts Jutarnji list briefly when relaying the vision of Block 19 from one of the council members who wished to remain anonymous.

Most members of the Council don't yet want to speak publicly about what they have come up with for the green Zagreb reconstruction project because the whole thing is being kept in strict secrecy until the presentation.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2021

High Administrative Court Quashes Fine for Bandić in Conflict of Interest Case

ZAGREB, 2 February, 2021 - High Administrative Court has quashed a 2017 decision by the Conflict of Interest Commission which fined Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić after his defence attorney paid bail with his own money and Bandić was also fined for receiving donations by citizens after the 2009 presidential election.

The commission fined Bandić with the maximum fine of HRK 40,000 for the bail paid by the lawyer and for donations received after the presidential election campaign was over.

The commission ruled that by receiving the donations amounting to more than HRK 24.7 million that he received in 2011 and 2012, Bandić was in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act. The commission underscored that Bandić had received donations of up to HRK 90,000 each from tens of donors, and this amount was more than the annual net income of some of those who paid those sums.

The commission also concluded then after Hanžeković's law firm deposited bail money in the amount of 15 million kuna, Bandić found himself in a relationship of dependence on Hanžeković.

The High Administrative Court among other things concluded that the commission had erred in concluding that the donations paid after the election were an (inadmissible) gift, and explained that  the money concerned was used to settle subsequent costs for electioneering.

As far as Hanžeković's money is concerned, the court ruled that all citizens are equal before the law and that restricting an official "to receive bail money from anyone in criminal proceedings represents an unallowable restriction of their right to a defence." 

Media outlets claim that the court's decision will have a drastic impact on the commission's powers in addition to some previous decisions that were quashed including cases against former Croatian Democratic Union leader Tomislav Karamarko who stepped down after the case against him but also in the for cases against a former economy minister Martina Dalić, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

For more news about Milan Bandic, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

NGOs Hold Performance on 1st Anniversary of Large Protest against Bandić

ZAGREB, 2 February, 2021 - Several civil society associations held a performance on Monday in Zagreb's main square to mark the 1st anniversary of the large protest rally against Mayor Milan Bandić, and announced that similar performances would be conducted every ten days until the local election, due to be in late May.

The NGOs told the media that they wanted to recall the biggest ever protest rally held against the Zagreb mayor Bandić, which attracted more than 20,000 protesters.

With the emergence of COVID-19 and the earthquake that struck Zagreb on 22 March the performances were halted, however, now that the May local election is drawing closer they decided to once again relaunch the performances to call citizens to go to the polls particularly those who have until now abstained and to tell Bandić "enough is enough" and remove him from power.

The NGOs called out Bandić, who is under investigation by the USKOK office for suppression of corruption and organised crime, for his non-transparent work and alleged graft cases.

At the protest rally a year ago disgruntled protesters accused Bandić of corruption,and criticised him for his proposed urban and waste management plans and so on.

For more news about the Mayor of Zagreb, follow the dedicated TCN section on Milan Bandic

Monday, 4 January 2021

Index Investigation: Milan Bandic Took HRK 3.35 Million from Schools, Gave to Snow Queen Instead

January 4, 2021 - An investigation has revealed that Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic took HRK 3.35 Million from schools and gave it to the Snow Queen skiing competition instead. 

The earthquake in March severely damaged several schools and kindergartens in Zagreb, and the coronavirus pandemic revealed that some schools did not have hot water or soap to wash students' hands and maintain basic hygiene. When distance learning began, we learned that the system did not work and that teachers did not have the equipment to provide quality teaching.

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic ignored all these problems or even mocked them, saying that students could wash their hands with ashes, just like he did as a child. has now learned that Bandic took HRK 3.35 million from the Education Office in one of the last decisions in 2020. Namely, on November 30, 2020, Bandic issued a Conclusion on the redistribution of funds planned in the City of Zagreb Budget for 2020 and transferred money from the Education Office to the Sports Office.

"Funds of HRK 3,350,000.00 are transferred from the City Education Office to the City Sports and Youth Office for the activity of a Great Sports Event, to provide the necessary funds for the international sports event, the Snow Queen and the Snow King Ski Cup 2021," reads Bandic's explanation.

In the second part of the explanation, the Snow Queen is praised as a manifestation that contributed to skiing interest. On the other hand, in the Official Gazette, there are only 273 registered skiers in the Zagreb area, who, if they want quality skiing, must train outside Croatia.

"The Snow Queen has become a trademark of the City of Zagreb and the Republic of Croatia, giving the City of Zagreb, at the time of the event, a special charm and atmosphere," reads the explanation at a time when it was already known that the race would be held without spectators and that it would not bring anything to Zagreb except a snow trail surrounded by mud. The Bandic City Administration was also aware of that.

"Due to the possible lack of snow and high temperatures, as well as climate change, it is necessary to continue to improve the snowmaking system and infrastructure to prepare the track in time and to avoid possible race cancellations, which occurred in 2014 and 2016," reads the explanation of the Conclusion, by which the money is taken from schools and given to the ski competition.

By the way, the total budget of this year's competition is HRK 21 million, of which at least a third, or seven million kuna, is paid directly by the city from the budget, from taxes and surcharges collected from citizens. The remainder comes from the work of Zagreb Holding employees and the last HRK 3.35 million stolen from children, says Index.

The Zagreb Education Office does not see anything disputable because HRK 3.35 million went to the Snow Queen.

"We emphasize the fact that the redistribution of planned budget funds is common at the end of the calendar or budget year. Because funds for the reconstruction of damaged buildings are provided and paid following the phases of the work performed, the unspent funds were redistributed in the budget of the City of Zagreb for other city offices," said Ivica Lovrić, head of the Education Office, to Index's inquiry.

In the same response, in addition to praising themselves for everything they have done since 2016, it states that the earthquake "damaged 175 educational facilities, of which 162 have already been renovated, and the reconstruction of the remaining 13 is underway. Their restoration will be completed in the next year or two, depending on the type and extent of damage to the individual facility."

Everything is fine, claims Lovrić; you just have to wait a year or two.

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