Sunday, 9 February 2020

Kaj?! Five Things We Learned About Milan Bandic This Week

February the 9th, 2020 - The Mayor of Zagreb is a colourful fellow. Mired in controversy and often the culprit in many an eyebrow-raising, funny, or just plain ridiculous story - Milan Bandic has seen (and probably done) it all. In his many years serving the City of Zagreb as mayor, many a scandal has found itself at his doorstep. With USKOK (Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organised Crime) now hot on his heels, let's take a look at what we've found out about Milan Bandic in the last week or so alone.

Milan Bandic holds the citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hold your horses, you might say, many Croats and indeed many citizens of neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina hold each other's citizenship. You'd be right. Zdravko Mamic, Dinamo Zagreb's former main man, who also spent much of his time in a quagmire of controversy, also holds citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He used his second passport as a way to escape justice in Croatia and live just over the border in Medjugorje - Bosnia typically does not extradite its citizens. 

Could Milan Bandic be thinking along the same lines now that certain unwanted events from his past are catching up with him more and more quickly? Potentially. According to the Croatian media, it isn't known just when Bandic obtained citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the appropriate ministry doesn't want to reveal it. Telegram reports that according to checks carried out, Milan Bandic, who was indeed born in Grude, Bosnia and Herzegovina, does hold citizenship of the country and it seems he obtained citizenship based on ethnicity/descent.

Bandic was born in 1955 in Grude, and then held what was Yugoslavian citizenship. He has held Croatian citizenship since Croatia declared independence, and has lived in Zagreb since 1974. Bandic believes questions about his second citizenship are ''racist questions'', as he made sure to say in response to questioning from a journalist. 

''I'm a citizen of Croatia and I'll be the President of Croatia. Your question is racist,'' exclaimed Milan Bandic when asked about him holding citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 2009. 

Milan Bandic divorced his wife so he could acquire a cheap apartment

Marital bliss means very little when there's a bargain to be had. 24 years ago, Milan and his wife Vesna apparently went through a rough patch, which all relationships and marriages go through at some point or another. They filed for divorce in 1996 and their very short-lived divorce was amicable and friendly, as the then ex-husband, Milan Bandic, immediately approved his ex-wifes request to buy an apartment for a price seven times lower than its market value.

Cunning? An insult to marriage? Or just plain old good sense in a world of unpredictable inflation? Click here to read our full report on the situation and decide for yourself.

Milan Bandic has a Croatian diplomatic passport

So what? You might ask. He's a prominent Croatian politician and he's the mayor of the capital city of the holder of the rotating EU presidency. Well, it seems that Milan Bandic has taken up the hobby of collecting passports and other travel documents. Along with him holding the citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he has now got his hands on a Croatian diplomatic passport. As Telegram reports, that information was confirmed to Index by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

This document, as should be emphasised, belongs to the Mayor of Zagreb under the Law on Travel Documents; for official travel abroad, and a number of Croatian officials have the right to obtain a diplomatic passport.

These include, for example, the President of the Republic of Croatia, the Prime Minister, government ministers, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, the heads of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, MPs, the Attorney General, directors and secretaries in the ministries, and the President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

Diplomatic passport users can cross the border faster and easier, their luggage isn't checked, and they basically don't have to go through the endless waiting and treatment from airport staff and border guards that is... let's just say ''lacking''.

Milan Bandic exercised this right and his diplomatic passport was issued to him on the 16th of June, 2015, and is valid until the 16th of June, 2020.

The aforementioned law is highly convenient in Croatian circumstances (of course it is). By his function, Nadan Vidosevic, who was arrested on the 12th of November, 2013, charged with misappropriating 32.9 million kuna from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, could also take out a diplomatic passport. Once again, you can come to your own conclusions about that and what it might imply.

USKOK claims Milan Bandic was found in possession of a 40 million kuna fraud document

As Ana Raic Knezevic/Telegram reported on the 5th of February, 2020, Milan Bandic was questioned on the aforementioned date as a witness on the continuation of the process in the dry ice affair. The allegations are against former Zvonimir Sostar, who has been one of Milan's closest associates for many years.

In Sostar's tenure, between 2006 and 2013, the City of Zagreb's budget was scammed by a little less than 40 million kuna in the affair according to USKOK. USKOK claims that fictitious bills were being paid to clean air conditioners in sports halls across Zagreb, though that work was largely not carried out.

Bandic says he only heard about that case in passing. He remembers learning that the sanitary inspection had ordered the air-conditioners to be cleaned because of the risk of Legionnaires disease, but he left everything else, he claims, to his good friend Zvonimir Sostar.

To counter his claims, USKOK then presented Bandic with a document found in his own home which was discovered during a search after his 2014 arrest. This paper shows certain budget items, one of which is particularly clear in reference to the dry ice affair. Bandic, as he himself admitted, wrote on it "10 percent", "15 percent", "300,000", and then "Mirna must ask Anica". Therefore, it concludes that Bandic was much more involved in the case than he cared to admit.

"I'm not a chemist and I don't know what dry ice is. I know I have an air conditioner at home, but I don't know how it gets cleaned. This was a working document on the redistribution of funds in the budget, and Mirna Situm, then head of the department, had to consult with Anica Tav, the assistant to the Public Procurement Office,'' Milan Bandic said without explaining, however, why he kept that document in his own house.

The indictment charges Zvonimir Sostar, former head of the City of Zagreb's Office of Health, Labour, Social Welfare and Veterans' Affairs, with having agreed with Davor Ljubic, the owner of Ekotours, at the beginning of 2006, to provide him with the job of cleaning the air conditioning and ventilation systems in the sports halls of the City of Zagreb. According to Sostar's promise, Ljubic would have all the expenses, including transportation and fees, paid for from the City of Zagreb's budget.

Although in the end, the City of Zagreb did not provide the funds from the budget, Sostar nevertheless initiated an air conditioner cleanup programme, launching public tenders in which, according to USKOK, clearly favoured Ljubic. The cleaning method was just expensive "dry ice". Ljubic was paid according to the invoices, regardless of whether the work was done, the indictment alleges.

In addition, the investigators found that there was not much control over the work carried out at all. The indictment alleges that Sostar hired Mira Loncar, a health expert at the City of Zagreb's Office of Health, Labour, Social Welfare and Veterans' Affairs, to compile the bidding documents that would best suit Ekotours. She did so, and Ljubic's company got the job very easily, USKOK claims.

According to USKOK, Loncar knew that Ekotours hadn't done some of the work and that part of the cleanup hadn't been accomplished using "dry ice", as had been previously agreed. The city received a 52.4 million kuna invoice by 2013, while it is suspected that Ekotours did work worth a mere 13.4 million kuna. However, Sostar still approved the payment of all of Ljubic's invoices. As a result, he is charged with nearly 39 million kuna in damages to the city budget.

The indictment further alleges that Sostar paid Ljubic off by paying for his travel, hotels and even for fishing. In total, it is suspected that the former city health minister received 177,000 kuna in bribes.

The second indictment charges Ljubic with fraudulent business relationships with several private companies, which falsified his accounts in order to justify the enormous value of the business he did. He paid the money to his alleged subcontractors, but it was just a way to get the money out of Ekotours' account. At the same time, Ljubic were allowed to avoid paying taxes on profit and VAT.

In total, between January 2014 and December the 31st, 2015, according to the indictment, 2.2 million kuna in tax was evaded. Ljubic and his director, Zonja are also accused of faking business books and money laundering. Some of the defendants involved in this chain of drawing money out of the city budget have previously pleaded guilty. They have agreed with USKOK on relatively lenient fines, and they have to pay back some of the illegally earned money.

Citizens of Zagreb paid for a full page of advertisements in the newspaper, just for Milan Bandic to tell his ''truth''

According to a repoty from Telegram on the 8th of February, 2020, an advertisement with the official logo of the City of Zagreb appeared in the papers.

"Dear residents of Zagreb...'' the ad text begins, "we have been witnessing for a long time, and especially over recent days, various pieces of information related to the GUP Amendments is coming to you."

It goes on to say that the atmosphere of "politicking and manipulation at all costs" prevails in the public space, so the ''facts'' and the ''real truth'' have been lost sight of. So now the city government has decided to publish their side, with the word TRUTH (ISTINA) being repeated rather strangely in each and every paragraph.

There are many points made, but none explain why Mayor Milan Bandic doesn't set his arguments out with the use of regular channels, which recently serve him mostly for insulting journalists. Instead, he seems happy for Zagreb's citizens to pay for the publication of these advertisements without being asked.

Now we've covered five of the latest scandals, controversies and face-palm moments related to Milan Bandic, we'll do our best, as Plenkovic desires, to get back to ''focusing on Croatia's EU Presidency'' and hope these constant skeletons in closets stop falling out at such an incredible pace.

Follow our politics page for more.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Zagreb's Budget Gap Reaches 400 Million Kuna

ZAGREB, February 3, 2020 - The City of Zagreb ran a budget deficit of about 400 million kuna in 2019, while the deficit carried over from the previous period is 628.9 million kuna, the city's Finance Office said in a statement on Monday, noting the negative impact of tax reforms on the city's revenues.

The statement came after Jutarnji List newspaper said on Monday that the head of the Finance Office, Danijela Juroš Pečnik, had warned the city government in a letter last week that the city's budget deficit exceeded 1 billion kuna last year.

The Finance Office said that it was an internal document normally sent to the heads of city administrative bodies to "achieve better budget discipline."

The annual financial report for 2019 has not been finalised yet, and the deficit is estimated at 400 million kuna, while the deficit carried over from the previous period is 628.9 million kuna, the statement said.

"In accordance with rules governing budget accounting, a deficit can be covered successively over a longer period of time. The deficit of 628.9 million kuna carried over from the previous period is envisaged to be covered from the projected budgets for 2021 (253 million kuna) and 2022 (375.9 million kuna)," it said.

The Finance Office said that after determining the final result for 2019 the City would analyse the financial situation and causes of the deficit, define measures to ensure stable and sustainable business, and consider measures to increase revenues, improve collection of claims and streamline the business.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic Protest 'Enough' Draws 20,000: Stops Traffic

Around 20,000 citizens protested in Trg bana Jelačića against Zagreb Mayor and USKOK indictee Milan Bandić and demanded his permanent removal from politics. The protest was punctuated with crowd chants of “Enough, Milan", "Go, Go" and "Thieves, Thieves".


Largest Crowd of Three Protests Against Zagreb Mayor

The protest, which was called "Enough", began at 16:00 CET yesterday. According to the organizers' observations; this protest has by far gathered the most residents of all three against the mayor. The third protest, which feature live bands and a stage, was organized by Siget Citizens Association, Green Action and Zagreb Te Zove according to Matej Devčić/Jutarnji List on February 1, 2020.

“In the first protest we shouted, ‘step down’, in the second we were jurors and passed down a ruling - you are guilty. We even showed up at the courtroom. But this has all happened with the support of the government. Without Andrej Plenkovic, Bandić would not have been able to do all this,” Gordana Pasanec, president of the Siget Citizens Association, told the gathering.

Bernard Ivčić from Green Action said that citizens came to Zagreb's Trg bana Jelačića to say enough to Bandić's system of clientelism, which is destroying Zagreb.

Mayor’s GUP Plan Benefits Friends: Residents Choking on Trash

“The GUP (General Urban Plan City of Zagreb) is a scandalous document in which Bandić backs Zagreb Manhattan for the benefit of his friends and lets us choke on the trash everywhere. We ask all MPs to oppose this plan,” Ivčić said.

Jelena Miloš from the Zagreb Te Zove said that Zagreb is ashamed of its mayor. Residents take pride in their neighborhoods and are fighting against the criminal GUP plan and waste mismanagement. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the HDZ in the city assembly, she said.

“We are also saying to the HDZ: we will not forget you,” Miloš proclaimed to the crowd.

Marko Košak from Green Action arrived to the stage holding a garbage bag full of trash.

“What I have in my hand is a symbol of Bandić,” said Košak, adding that the mayor is guilty for all the waste problems in Zagreb.

“Remember this date: February 1, 2020; today we are taking down Milan Bandić,” Košak added.

Zagreb Protest Crowd Reached 20,000: Shut Down Tram Service

Police officers wouldn’t provide crowd estimates, but observers claim the crowd, which filled the entire main city square, reached 20,000. There were so many people in Trg bana Jelačića that tram traffic was suspended at one point.

Bandić Dismissed Protesters as Whiners and Actors

Yesterday, Mayor Bandić spoke to reporters about the protest organized against him and suggested that some protesters were "whining, and some were acting."

“It is the democratic right of protesters to protest, and the democratic right of the mayor to work,” said Mayor Bandić, who responded to questions on Cvjetni trg, where P.I.N.K. had organized an event to commemorate World Cancer Day.

Highlights of the Zagreb Protest as It Happened

16:25 - Several thousand people gathered at Trg bana Jelačića to protest Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić. Protesters came to the square with banners chanting "Prison", "Bandits and thieves" and "Enough!"

Comedian Marina Orsag, a presenter at the protest, addressed the crowd. "Thank you, everyone, for pointing out that you are not afraid to come out, that we are not little hooves who will not fight Milan Bandić," Orsag said, according to Dnevnik "What happens when you are dissatisfied with an employee? You fire him!"

16:45 - Film director and candidate in the last presidential election Dario Juričan also came to protest Milan Bandić.

The protesters were also addressed by Bernard Ivčić of Green Action. "A little kid would have done more than (Milan) Bandić. Everywhere around Zagreb, there are affairs, all with the support of Andrej Plenkovic and the HDZ, who hold a majority in the assembly.

Orsag asked the assembled people to remove derogatory signs and claimed that the protesters had "stopped traffic".

17:00 - Jelena Miloš from Zagreb Te Zove addressed the protesters. "(Milan) Bandić has to leave because he has been destroying GUPs for the last 20 years," Miloš said, to which protesters responded with "Leave!" "Zagreb is ashamed of its mayor."

"Today we are proud of Savica, who defended their park. Samoborček and Trešnjevka, because they are defending green spaces. Resnik fought against a harmful incinerator. Novi Zagreb too. "We say - 'we won't forget about you,'" Miloš said.

17:25 - Marko Košak from Green Action brought a black garbage bag to the stage. “This is a symbol of Mayor Bandić. If Milan Bandić is famous for something, then it is an inability to solve trash problems. We have had enough,'' Košak said.

''Now he wants to increase everyone's bills. It won’t work, Milan!'' said Marko Košak to Bandić, as quoted by Dnevnik.

''Remember this date: February 1, 2020, today we are taking down Milan Bandić here!'' Košak concluded to the wild applause of protesters.

17:50 - Marina Orsag ended the protest with a message for Bandić, "I have one slogan to end with - when we get rid of the scum, we get rid of the garbage," Orsag concluded.

Siget Citizens Association president Gordana Pasanec thanked everyone who came to the protest. "When I see how many there are of you are on stage, it makes me tremble. Thank you for showing up in such large numbers," Pasanec said.

Green Action: GUP Not Taking Public Interests into Account

On Friday, Green Action welcomed the Zagreb Constitutional Court's ruling that it would not increase the cost of transporting waste for Zagreb which was slated for on February 1, but they also had announced that they would not withdraw from the protest.

Green Action president Željka Leljak Gracin said there were many other reasons for today's protest because "Bandić's politics and city management are anything but acceptable." At the protest, she said, "we will once again demonstrate that it is time for Bandić to leave this position."

She also said that changes to the GUP will be decided next week, which she claims are "increasingly detrimental to the city in every case and are in no way taking public interests into account. I believe that residents need to show that this city is not Bandić's, but it is being managed as if it is," she claimed.


A considerable archive of Total Croatia News articles about Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić can be found here.

Information on Zagreb Organizations Working to Remove Bandic

Follow Zagreb Te Zove here to keep updated on events and protests the Zagreb mayor. Information on Dario Juričan, documentary film maker and performance artist, can be found on his Facebook page and website. Information on Zagreb je NAŠ, a Zagreb-based political party, can be found on Facebook here and on their website.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic Divorced Wife To Acquire Cheap Apartment

Did Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and his wife Vesna go through a marital rough patch 24 years ago? According to court records, the couple filed for divorce in March 1996. Apparently, their short-lived divorce was amicable, because then ex-husband Milan immediately approved his ex-wife’s request to purchase an apartment for a price seven times below its market value!

UPDATE: All about Milan Bandic protest "Enough", which took place Saturday February 1, 2020 here.

Recently Vesna Bandić, wife of the multiple USKOK (Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime) indictee, bought a 68m2 apartment right in the center of Zagreb.

The recently purchased apartment is located on Trg Petra Petretića and was bought from family friends Željko and Dragica Šelendić for 854,000 HRK (114,775 EUR). It is important to emphasize that most of the money, 720,000 HRK (97,304 EUR), was immediately paid in cash. The apartment was purchased for Bandić's daughter Ana Marija, who was then registered as the apartment’s owner a few days before the New Year, according to Index on February 1, 2020.

Dario Juričan also posted the agreement dated April 7, 1997 for the sale of an apartment on Preradovićeva to Bandić's wife, on his Facebook profile. Bandić has claimed that the sale of this apartment was the source of funds for the recent purchase of the much larger more expensive property.


You can steal my name, but you can't steal my corruption! | Dario Juričan

Dario Juričan Uncovers Vesna Bandic Apartment Purchase Agreement


Milan oh Bandić, you went to court and got divorced from your wife Vesna on March 25, 1996. You only completed this procedure so that your wife Vesna could buy an apartment on Preradovićeva ulica in Zagreb.

Immediately after your divorce was filed, Vesna Bandić submitted a request with the Zagreb Housing Commission for the recognition of right of occupancy for a 38m2 apartment on Preradovićeva 13.

Vesna Bandić claimed that she had been living in the house since birth, even though she was living with you, only a budding label cutter at the time, in a skyscraper on Bužanova 41.

Just a day after submitting her request, the commission accepted her right of occupancy claim and Vesna bought the apartment for 35,760 HRK (4806 EUR), which was then at least seven times less than the market value.

It took you, Milan, just seven days after your divorce to purchase the apartment in Preradovićeva ulica.

Now Milan, you are spinning a tale that your wife Vesna just bought a 68m2 flat from your friend Šela (Dragica Šelendić) for your daughter, from the proceeds of the sale of that apartment on Preradovićeva.

Thank you for reminding us, label cutter, what a complex operation you were prepared to do for 38m2.

Today, Master of the Fog, thanks to your entrepreneurial spirit, your daughter has an apartment almost double the size…

It paid off, Milan, good job!

Dario Juričan, Mayor of the Universe
/ Thank you Hrvoje Appelt! /

Juričan Poses More Questions For Milan Bandic (There Are So Many)


I am particularly pleased, Milan, with your announcement yesterday:


The Mayor obeyed the law and legal procedures (...)

The Mayor properly made the necessary changes to his property report in a timely manner.”

And where did it all go, Milan, all those luxury watches Zenith, Cartier, Piaget, IWC ...?

Where did the old-timers from Grude (Bandić’s hometown in Bosnia) go?

Who swallowed the three apartments that you had at your disposal and used ...?

How did the 200,000 HRK (26,879 EUR) of cash found in the search of your office and apartment evaporate?

And those fine art paintings you tried to hide with Kikaš, which made you want to go on vacation for a long time because you asked Vida Demarin to make a false statement about those paintings?

Come on, come on, label cutter, send the media the appropriate press releases. Do it properly and in a timely manner, as you always obey the both the law and proper procedure. Please, you can do it," Juričan wrote on Facebook.

Milan and Vesna Bandić’s Fake Divorce

This story first appeared back in 2005.

In 1996, Bandić divorced his wife, Vesna Bandić, after which she, unburdened by his property, very conveniently bought an apartment in Preradovićeva ulica in the center of Zagreb. The law on compensation for property, which was confiscated during the Yugoslav communist rule, provided people with unresolved housing issues the right of purchase. At that time the Bandić’s owned an apartment on Bužanova ulica.

As such a buyout was only possible until March 1997, it is interesting to note that Bandić divorced his wife in March 1996. Then, a week later, his ex-wife submitted a request to buy an 38m2 apartment for 35,760 HRK (4806 EUR) on Preradovićeva ulica.

Until her death in 1992, her grandmother, Anka Kolarić, lived in the apartment. Vesna Bandić said in her request to buy the apartment that she had been registered at that address since 1975 and she had been living in that apartment for seventeen years. Their daughter, Ana Marija, has also been reported as living at that same address since 1983.


Vesna Bandić Apartment Purchase Agreement | Dario Juričan

Milan Bandić Approved Ex Wife's Zagreb Apartment Purchase

Vesna Bandić was granted the right to buy the apartment just one day after her request was submitted. Despite their divorce, Bandić, as a government official, personally approved the decision on the recognition of the right of occupancy for his ex-wife. The purchase contract shows that the apartment was purchased for 37,760 HRK (4806 EUR), that the amount of the first installment was 3576 HRK (481 EUR), and the rest was to be paid in 240 installments of 148 HRK (20 EUR) per month.

An extensive archive of Total Croatia News articles on the notorious Zagreb Mayor can be found here. An archive of articles on Dario Juričan can be found here. More information on Juričan can be found on his website

Another protest against Mayor Bandić, organized by Zagreb Te Zove, will take place on Trg bana Jelačića today February 1, 2020 at 16:00 CET. More information on the protest can be found on the group's Facebook page

UPDATE: All about Milan Bandic protest "Enough", which took place Saturday February 1, 2020 here.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Zagreb Mayor Bandić Pleads Not Guilty to Waste Management Irregularities

ZAGREB, January 22, 2020 - Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić appeared before County Court on Wednesday morning and pleaded not guilty to irregularities relating to waste management.

Also accused are the owner of the CIOS waste management company, Petar Pripuz, and another 15 defendants. They all pleaded not guilty to charges that the City had awarded the job of waste disposal to CIOS without a tender.

The trial was watched by civil society activists, including Dario Juričan, who recently ran in the presidential campaign and publicly criticised Bandić for corruption.

A group of activists met Bandić outside the courthouse, booing at him and calling him a thief. They brought him a gift for prison: a toothbrush, a towel with his name, a bar of soap, a roll of toilet paper and a bag of mandarins.

Activist Gordana Pasanec of the Siget civil society group said the group wanted the court to finally pass a final and fair judgment. "It's impossible that he is never found guilty. It is disgraceful that witness testimonies and indictments are constantly changed because of somebody's interests," she said, adding that citizens would show today that they were fed up with bribery and corruption.

The anti-corruption investigating agency USKOK submitted the indictment against the mayor of Zagreb and his associates and business partners to the court back in December 2015. Seven counts of the indictment were upheld by the court in March 2018 and three were returned to the prosecution for completion.

In late March 2019 the Zagreb County Court suspended proceedings against Bandić in the part of the indictment that charged him with defrauding the budget by not paying taxes on donations he had received after the 2010 presidential elections.

At the end of October 2019, the court upheld the part of the indictment against Bandić and Pripuz relating to waste management.

More news about Milan Bandić can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Civil Society Groups to Organise Another Protest Against Bandić on February 1

ZAGREB, January 17, 2020 - The initiative "Zagreb is calling you" and the associations Siget, the Green Action, and The Right to the City, have announced a new protest against Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, to be staged on February 1 in Zagreb's central Ban Josip Jelačić Square.

The activists said the reason for the new protest against the mayor, after two were held during a recent campaign for presidential elections, was that Bandić "is keeping the 'Manhattan Project' and valuable city land for his cronies, while leaving residents of Zagreb to drown in garbage whose collection he plans to charge for even more."

The activists believe that Bandić's power in Zagreb would be much smaller if he did not enjoy the firm support of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) deputies in the city assembly.

"Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has decided to tie his fate to then USKOK indictee and he bears full responsibility for Bandić's maltreatment of Zagreb residents," said the activists.

They said they had decided to organise the protest on February 1 because a few days after the protest the City Assembly would be deciding on changes to the city's urban development plan, of which many are problematic, which was why members of the public had submitted more than 30,000 objections but they were all rejected.

"We need an urban development plan that deals with the consequences of climate change, provides answers to the burning problem of lack of affordable housing, and offers an answer to the chaos in the system of waste management and problems created by Bandić," the protest organisers said.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

State Prosecutor Displeased at Sitting Next to Indicted Zagreb Mayor Bandić

ZAGREB, January 11, 2020 - Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić sent a letter to the government on Friday in which he expressed his displeasure with the seating arrangement during a concert at the Croatian National Theatre held on the occasion of Croatia's EU presidency, his office (DORH) said. Jelenić was caught on camera sitting in a box next to Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, against whom DORH has filed a number of indictments which have been upheld.

In a press release on its website, DORH referred journalists to putting questions about protocol and the seating arrangement to the organiser of Thursday night's event.

DORH said that since Jelenić confirmed that he would attend, the organiser "could have made a seating arrangement that would not bring into doubt the independence and impartiality" of Jelenić or DORH.

Jelenić believes that staying in the box he was put in by the government's Office for Protocol, without knowing the seating arrangement, was an appropriate reaction at an event of such high international standing, DORH said, adding that in response to the inappropriate seating arrangement, Jelenić sent the government a letter to express his displeasure.

DORH also noted that sitting at such an event next to a guest who is under criminal prosecution in no way influenced DORH's actions.

Mayor Bandić said he did not feel bad about having sat next to Chief State Prosecutor Jelenić at yesterday's concert. "Justice wins in the end. The presumption of innocence applies to the Zagreb mayor too," he told reporters.

Asked if he knew he would be sitting next to Jelenić, Bandić said he was sitting in a box in which the government's Office for Protocol placed state officials, including him as a co-host.

The Office for Protocol placed the mayor where it should have and the mayor goes where he is invited and where they sit him, he added.

The seating arrangement at the HNK concert was prepared by the Office for Protocol according to the order of precedence and respecting the fact that a high number of international guests attended the event, the government said on Friday after photos appeared of the chief state prosecutor and the Zagreb Mayor in the same box.

More news about Milan Bandić can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Dario Jurican & Zagreb Corruption: Living the Croatian Style of Life

January 9, 2020 - Former Croatian presidential candidate Dario Jurican, aka Milan Bandic, takes his campaign against corruption in Zagreb to the next level - a press release. 

The recent Croatian Presidential election had a little more colour than the usual two-horse race between SDP and HDZ than the contest traditionally entails. In terms of votes, the biggest change was the challenge from the right from Miroslav Skoro, who captured many of the traditional HDZ votes in the first round, and he came within about 2% of beating incumbent President and HDZ candidate, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. 

But in terms of colour, there was one candidate who stood head and shoulders above the rest, one who had many people rooting for his cause, and one whose message talked openly and aggressively about one of the great scourges of Croatian society - corruption. 


(Whatever they offered you, I will offer you double - one of the campaign slogans of the Corruption for All campaign).

I will confess that I had never heard of Dario Jurican before the campaign started, but that was definitely a result of my ignorance. I had assumed that he was just some kind of comedian looking for some cheap laughs during the campaign. The target of his campaign was Zagreb Mayor, Milan Bandic, and Jurican even went as far as officially changing his name to Milan Bandic as part of his campaign, which you can follow on his Facebook page I Want to Be Milan Bandic, President of Croatia

But while there were plenty of elements of comedy in his brilliant campaign and accomplished performance in his many media appearances, Jurican, I learned, was an accomplished filmmaker and producer, and was indeed the man behind the groundbreaking Gazda documentary, which took a deeper look at the murky world of Agrokor (see trailer above).

I total, Dario Jurican aka Milan Bandic took 87,000 votes, or 5% of the electorate, faring better in Zagreb, where his tally of 8.67% or 33,145 votes accounted for almost half that of President Kolinda in the capital city. He took much joy in winning the diaspora vote in Romania, and also claiming Indonesia, where he was tied with two other candidates, but came first alphabetically.

Rather than finishing his campaign with the election, it seems to be only just starting, as Dario Jurican, in association with the Croatian Center for Investigative Journalism and Freedom of the Press, have outlined their next move in a press release, which you can read below in full. He is a brave guy, and the least we can do is offer him a platform.


Zagreb, January 9th, 2020. – Croatian Center for Investigative Journalism and Freedom of the Press (HRCIN) and Dario Juričan alias Milan Bandić, the film director and a presidential candidate at the recent presidential elections in Croatia, continues conducting actions against the 6th term mayor of City of Zagreb, also Milan Bandić. As Dario Juričan often said, Milan Bandić the mayor of Zagreb is his only political adversary.   

The struggle continues 

Yesterday, in front of the building of the main utility company Zagreb Holding (ZGH), Dario Juričan alias Milan Bandić continues to capitalize on impressive presidential election results recently held in the Republic of Croatia.  Dario started his campaign in early spring 2019. by changing his own name from Dario Juričan to Milan Bandić. Soon after the official procedure for changing personal name was finalized and Dario legally changed his name to Milan Bandić and received his new ID card, the local and national public bodies, under the instructions of the mayor Milan Bandić, unlawfully revoked the personal name change. The Administrative court in Zagreb, in an urgent procedure, ruled all actions undertaken by local and national bodies as illegal. Moreover, the Court clearly outlined that the human rights of Dario Juričan were badly violated by the official institutions. In its ruling from November 2019. the Court instructed all institutions to annul those illegal actions and allow execute the legal name change. To this day, this has not been executed so Dario and his legal team continue legal actions to reobtain the name. „The entire legal system has been misused by the Mayor and it seems that his power, even though diminished is still stronger than the Rule of Law“ says Juričan. 

The main campaign slogan during Juričan’s presidential campaign was „I want to be Milan Bandić, the President of Croatia“ and „Corruption to all, not only them“. Juričan won 87.883 votes, which was close to 5% of the total number of voters at the national level. More importantly, in the city of Zagreb Juričan finished 4th, winning almost 9% of the votes cast in Zagreb. As political elites in Croatia are accustomed to post election trade, Juričan and his team are continuing “corruption for all” campaign by demanding Zagreb Holding as their political „prey“.


Today Dario and his team erected tents in front of the main utility company Zagreb Holding, well known as the place for political employment of many mayor’s „partners and friends“. Event is inspired by a group of war veterans who, several years ago dissatisfied by the left wing government (led by social democrat SDP) and with the support of the center right party (christian democrat HDZ), protested by illegally erecting a big tent in front of the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs for over 500 days. 

Many political analysts defined the tent as one of the main reasons SDP lost the parliamentary elections in 2016. The tent was taken down as soon as HDZ won the elections. Dario is now using the same model to get „his share“ after the presidential elections. 

The satirical public campaign that has shaken the political scene in Croatia during the last presidential elections is evidently not over. Juričan has no plans to stop roasting the political mainstream, concentrating his actions on the fight against corruption in politics with emphasis on the city of Zagreb and the 20 years long reign of the mayor Milan Bandić. Croatia is still a highly corrupted country and Dario is keen, as he says, to put an end to it so that corruption is available to all citizens, not only to the few chosen ones. Mayor Milan Bandić is accused in several high corruption cases and the trials are ongoing. Controversies around mayor Bandić are adding up and the public support as well as support of his partners is fading. His rule of the capital city, which hosts a fifth of Croatia’s population, is still maintained by political symbiosis of „Milan Bandić 365“ party supporting HDZ parliamentary majority while HDZ supports his parties majority in the Zagreb city council. 

HRCIN is currently conducting a crowdrising campaign „Meet Zagreb’s finest“. The main goal of this crowdfunding campaign is to promote „Zagreb’s finest“  by buying billboard spaces on the most frequent Zagreb roads and exhibit the posters for a period of at least 2 months. This project presents the most valuable Zagreb citizens to European dignitaries during the time of Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, from January until June 2020! 

HRCIN outlined: Let’s present the most valuable Zagreb citizens to the EU officials during the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council in 2020!

The campaign „Meet Zagreb’s finest“ presents several high profile individuals who have a special place in the reign of Milan Bandić the Mayor. 

„Meet the Mayor’s partner“: Andrej Plenković, experienced professional, diplomat and multi linguist is a perfect incarnation of a calm but firm leader whose handshake is a blast for our Mayor. Their two hands united in one touch are a symbol of many successful city-state projects, heading forward to their realization.

„Meet the Mayor’s buddy“: Josip Bozanić, Croatian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. This construction visionary was always gladly supported in the Mayors city. There’s always some piece of land left to be baptized. In return, Cardinal’s flock of sheep could easily find a headquarter when it’s time of election.

„Meet the driver“: Successful businessman mister Zdravko Krajina, one of the most influential event managers is the owner of a private company which organizes events on the City’s main square. At the same time he drives the Mayor.

„Meet the secretary“: Marija Caharija is a proper name for success. A bright example that anything is possible if you believe. How to jump from the position of a secretary to the Director of Project management branch in the city’s utility company Zagreb Holding? She knows how. A true role model we should all look up to.

„Meet the butcher“: Ratimir Jureković is an assistant to the Head of City Office for Agriculture and Forestry. In the rare moments of his leisure time he slaughters pigs for the Mayor.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Another Protest Held Against Mayor Milan Bandic in Zagreb

Milan Bandic, Zagreb's long-time mayor who has seen (and indeed caused) his fair share of controversy over the years is once again the subject of a protest held in the very heart of the Croatian capital city, following a recent one held at the tail end of 2019.

As Glas Istre writes on the 4th of January, 2020, thousands of people gathered today from 16:00 onwards on Zagreb's central Ban Jelacic square to protest against Milan Bandic. The protesters shouted: "Bandic to go" and chanted: ''Prison''.

The banners carried by protesters read: "Only in Zagreb can a rat survive for nineteen years", "You're guilty", "Mafia go home" and more in their show of solidarity against Milan Bandic and his murky track record as the seemingly untouchable (at least previously) mayor of Zagreb.

The protest was organised by citizens via Facebook and this, as previously mentioned, is the second protest of its kind. The first protest was organised the day before citizens went to vote in the polls during the first round, and this one takes place the day before the second round of the Croatian presidential elections.

In front of the assembled protesters, they read out the names of the mayor's associates and people considered to be "Bandic's pawns". The crowds also chanted: Mafia, Mafia!

''This is not the last protest. This is not the end, we're just getting started. Thank you to everyone who came,'' the organisers said, and those gathered greeted these words with a chant: Verdict, verdict.

The date of the next protest was also announced for January the 28th, 2020, in front of Zagreb County Court, during a hearing in one of the proceedings launched against Milan Bandic, which you can read more about here as we detail the trials of various Croatian politicians and tycoons due to begin or end in the coming year.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Zagreb Residents Chant 'Prison' at Protest Against Mayor Milan Bandić

More than 1,000 Zagreb residents and supporters chanted “prison” for Mayor Milan Bandić at yesterday’s protest in the city's downtown square.

The demonstration, which was organized to protest the Zagreb mayor and multiple USKOK (Croatian State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption) inductee Milan Bandić, was held at Trg bana Jelačića, the main city square, according to Index on December 21, 2019.

The protest began at 16h and was organized by a number of associations: Udruga građana Siget (the Siget Citizens' Association), Braniteljska udruga Vidra (the Veterans of Vidra), Veterani i društvena akcija sa Zelenim odredom (the Veterans' Association with Green Squad social action group), Udruga za zaštitu okoliša UZOR iz Resnika (the UZOR Environmental Association of Resnik), Udruga Eko-Zagreb (the Eco-Zagreb Association), Inicijativa Samoborček (the Samoborček Initiative), Inicijativa Hipodrom (the Hipppodrome Initiative), and the građanska inicijativa Zagreb bez zračenja (Zagreb Radiation-Free Initiative).

According to organizers, the protest gathered around two thousand citizens. They are planning another protest at the end of January.


Clear Message from Zagreb Protesters: Resign!

Among the messages on the banners were "Resign", "Enough of Banditism", "Your Mayor is poisoning you and robbing you", "Bandić's godfathers: You will fall into Resnik" (Resnik is a garbage dump in Zagreb), "Put the right thing (Bandić) in the right place in Remetinec" (Remetinec is a Zagreb prison), "Zagreb must not be defined by Milan Bandić"," Whose benefitting from the garbage centers?" and "Bandić and his 26 bandits".

City Council 'Thieves' Voted for Waste Removal Cost Increase

They explained that these "26 thieves" are the city council members who voted for an increase in waste collection costs and will be voting on the GUP (General Urban Plan). The protesters also exhibited four garbage bags which contain the names of the mayor and his associates, Mirka Jozić and Sanja Jerković, with one bag saying "26 city deputies."

They called the bags "radioactive waste", which they say will be taken to Bandić and the Zagreb City Administration on Monday where they will be placed under a pine tree.

Gordana Pasanec, from the Siget Citizens’ Association, said that they were protesting because they were fed up with Milan Bandić's despotism, from the "golden toilets", and benches for 20, 30, 40 thousand HRK, his bullying of city government staff, and his insults directed at journalists and citizens.

She also pointed out that Zagreb is separating only 10 percent of its waste, there is no real waste management system or fair billing and Zagreb streets are flooded with waste.

"The chaos we are witnessing is the result of a long-standing (lack of) waste management policy implemented by the Mayor of Zagreb. There is no single justifiable reason for this; no increase in services except for the systematic robbery of citizens by the Mayor through waste collection, which has benefitted individuals and interest groups for 20 years.

Branka Genzić-Horvat from UZOR said that they have been protesting for 14 years and because they are fed up with what is happening and want to make Zagreb a better place to live.


Pensioner in Wheelchair Calls Bandić 'Garbage'

Višnja Škreblin, who was introduced as the oldest activist, said that Bandić has consolidated his power (over the city) and has humiliated and belittled its citizens. “He says 'if you can't pay the cost of utilities and services, then you should leave Zagreb,’” which infuriated the wheelchair-bound pensioner, who publicly called Bandić "garbage."

"We have been witnessing this for 14 years. And it all started back in 2005 under the leadership of a mayor who has put himself at the forefront of these interest groups. The Waste Management Center is a continuation of concocted thievery, which this mayor carries out in the interest of specific groups and individuals. The Ministry of the Environment has backed an octopus who has ruled Zagreb and Croatia for many years," she said. She also said that for 14 long years they have been closely watching every step of this mayor and now the “water has reached her throat".

Ivan Kos from the Eco-Zagreb Association said that what Mayor Bandić is doing was "unacceptable".

Fled Scene of Drunk-Driving Accident in 2002

Bandić, a onetime member of SDP (Social Democratic Party) was elected mayor of Zagreb in 2000 and re-elected in 2001. In 2002, Bandić fled from the scene of a motor vehicle accident while under the influence of alcohol and was forced to resign.

The Zagreb SDP had the authority to nominate a new mayor, but the city council was so dominated by Bandić that it was questionable who would be able replace him. Eventually Vlasta Pavić took over, while Bandić retained a position as deputy mayor. However, he was eager to become mayor again, and blocked Pavić's development plans while pushing for an early election. In response, Ivica Račan (then head of SDP) tried to restrain Bandić's activities.


Successful Power Grab Led to 2005 Reelection

At that time, the law would not allow Bandić to serve a second term as mayor. Although Vlasta Pavić attempted to strike a deal to end their ongoing feud, but Bandić eventually succeeded in undermining her authority. Even though early elections were not held, he was re-elected mayor in 2005.

Bandić is currently serving his sixth term as Mayor of Zagreb. His administration has been defined by scandal and accusations of corruption. Bandić left SDP in 2009 and identified as an independent candidate for six years. In 2014, he was arrested on charges of corruption, bribery and organized crime, along with two other members of the Zagreb City Council. In 2015, he founded his own party, the Bandić Milan 365 – Labor and Solidarity Party. The 365 in his party’s name refers to his claim that he works for the city of Zagreb as mayor every day of the year.

In the 2017 local elections, Bandić narrowly defeated challenger Anka Mrak Taritaš. His current term ends in 2021.

Follow our Politics page to keep up with protests against the Bandić administration. For more information on upcoming protests against the Mayor, check out the Zagreb Te Zove (Zagreb is calling you) page on Facebook.

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