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NO 101-102

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Helsinki Charter No. 101-102

November - December 2006



By Velimir Curgus Kazimir

How should one keep his senses in a madhouse? By pretending to be there just temporarily? This is how people have been living over here for more than fifteen years. Every new electoral contest in Serbia only adds to that feeling of temporariness. In a way, temporariness has become a key national trait.

All that is constant in some crazy way is the double role of the media. Serbian media, newspapers in particular, are both a stronghold of democracy and its very negation. It's more than obvious today that those gangsters of the Zemun clan need not have bothered at all to launch the "Identity" daily - financial and political interests have spontaneously permeated the paper's criminal policy into a number of tabloids. Both manipulation from the outside and bribing of the media have always been in the background.

Closing down of newspapers and starting new ones is the natural order of things: in Serbia people are as expendable as newspapers. And there is some strange, inner justice in all that. The whys for closed down newsrooms are by far more imaginative than the whys for starting up new ones. (For instance, explaining why the "Tabloid" had to be closed down, editor Misa Brkic says a printing house turned them down under the pretext of four-month outstanding bills though the true reason is to be tracked down in the fact that the newspaper has run a series of articles about millionaire Miskovic.) Miskovic can for sure prevent many things or start them going. However, Brkic's explanation sounds rather paradoxical. The intentions of the founder of the "Opposition" daily - close to the Force of Serbia Movement - are rather evident: after January 21, 2007, the paper will grow into something called "Position." It's hardly imaginable, but not impossible.

The Big Brother's House is the only place unaffected by elections. Its residents' list of the information they miss totally bypassed politics. They wanted to learn what was going on in the world of sports or the exchange rate for Euro. How strange! The residents were subjected to an interesting experiment. They were distributed false newspapers. Some news stories were fabricated, some were true. The residents had to name the stories they believed in and vice versa. Personal emotions and assessments are infallible. You'll always find your wishful thinking in papers. Believing in things impossible you are not interested in is by far easier than believing in something that is quite possible but affects you too much.

The "Courier" is fighting a losing battle against Ceda Jovanovic. The Politika is very nice to the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Democratic Party and the G17 Plus. Other "state-building" newspapers - the Vecernje Novosti in particular - behave about the same. Mladja Dinkic is the most active of all - he's sacrificing himself for Serbia round the clock. Covic and Draskovic have the eye on passing the electoral threshold with pensioners' assistance. The Socialist Party of Serbia has not started its election campaign yet. Dacic firstly announced Serbia would defend Kosovo by all means and then explained Serbia had no means for defense. The Radicals are somewhat taken aback by Seselj's decision to go on living. Probably that's why Toma Nikolic so poetically speaks of one or more lives. By arguing with late Zoran Djindjic, this professional undertaker exemplifies the election campaign focusing those who made their minds long ago.

In a way, the same can be said about the Democratic Party of Serbia's election campaign with Kostunica's tractate on the EU's responsibility for Serbia's inadequate cooperation with the tribunal in The Hague.

Not only high-toned economic and social promises but also threats to all who have been stealing or prone to corruption up to now have always marked election campaigns. Corruption and economy have now become by far more important topics than in all previous elections. This verbalism is now actually realized in the arrest of the so-called customs mafia. Judiciary is being spared this time - for it still has to annul several sentences and annihilate several custodies and arrest warrants. The Supreme Court's decision to abrogate the sentence to the accused of the Ovcara crimes has resounded worldwide. The argumentation in favor of the decision (independent and untouchable judiciary) has nothing to do with responsibility and professionalism. As it seems, the judiciary is again in the process of adjusting itself to political circumstances. Everything must be postponed till January 21. For, whether the Radicals or the democrats form a government makes all the difference. This is what independence is about, isn't it?

The incumbent government evidently leans more on judiciary than on economic progress while advertising its results. However, this nothing but radicalizes public and media scenes. For, such attitude will be for sure decreasing abstention and encouraging all the critics of the actual order.

The announced assassination of Milorad Dodik sounded rather weird. The announcement itself, brimming with information about potential assassins and the Number One of Republika Srpska, just failed to provide a motive. I am afraid we shall never learn whether criminals and war profiteers have been so angry with Dodik to opt for final stroke. Dodik has publicly backed the democrats though in doing it he made a dangerous slip of the tongue. No one should blame him for that. In the meantime, bailiffs keep bothering serious journalists. Calling criminal a criminal is by far more dangerous over here than naming someone a traitor and foreign mercenary. In this context, things have not changed much since Milosevic - just no one would any longer take in JUL for bed and breakfast.


NO 101-102

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