AIM: start

FRI, 31 AUG 2001 18:21:44 GMT

Media - Where Tudjmanism Continues to Live

AIM Zagreb, August 19, 2001

"Nowadays in Croatia there are no opposition media, at least, not on the national level. Among the weeklies there is Hrvatsko slovo and Fokus, and among local television stations we have OTV and Rijeka Television", said Miroslav Tudjman at a debate in Hvar last week forgetting to mention ATV in Split, the television station of Split-Dalmatia district, which operates as a support of Condic's committee for the defence of the homeland war. But, let us disregard for the moment ATV and RiTv and Hrvatsko slovo and Fokus, and let us concentrate on Zagreb OTV and two key personalities of that TV station which was turned into the main media seat of Ivic Pasalic and Miroslav Tudjman. Two key personalities of that television station are called Romano Bolkovic and Vinko Grubisic.

When the rightist circus started moving from the capital to the Adriatic coast, Bolkovic shut his office in Zagreb OTV and - as a journalistic specialist skilled in toadyism - set out to follow in the footsteps of his latest idol whose name is Ivic Pasalic. Witnesses say that during Alkar festivities in Sinj he never left Doctor Pasalic's side casting at him glances of romantic adoration, and when he stopped it was just to host, for instance, president of the Alkar knights' society Mate Jukic and football player with a criminal provenance Igor Stimac in the studio of Split ATV.

This is, of course, a logical continuation of Bolkovic's several-month long activities that took place in studio OTV: in front of the cameras of this television station the following personalities were guests: Slobodan Praljak, Ante Jelavic, generals stripped of rank Mirko Condic, Ivan Skaric, Miroslav Tudjman (twice)... It should be noted that Romano Bolkovic does not operate as a journalist who puts questions to his guests but as a lawyer of the defence of the persons he is the host of in the show. This comes down to rude insulting of spectators who dare ask his guests anything or to putting questions that might cause nausea.

Romano Bolkovic, son of an officer of former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) from Pula, and Vinko Grubisic, from Herzegovina whose parents moved from Posuski Gradac to Zagreb Dubrava, became the best of friends in the end of the eighties when socialist youth founded their own television station - OTV - in the capital. Soon after multi-party elections followed, Tudjman's Croat Democratic Community (HDZ) rose to power, and Vinko Grubisic, laying stress on his Herzegovinian roots, became close to Gojko Susak and turned OTV into a regime media. Grubisic was awarded for it with the role of the authorised regime capitalist and Bolkovic - who was equally devoted to Tudjman's ideals at the time - was given the role of a small share-holder and leading star of that obscure TV station which mostly broadcast advertisements which were then paid for by satisfying the needs of Grubisic's residence in Pantovscak.

While Bolkovic hosted his talk-show called "Two at Nine" and was enchanted by the illusion of fame which weekly appearance in front of cameras seems to imply, Grubisic rose in regime hierarchy: he became deputy minister of information and especially distinguished himself as the creator of HDZ's document on the establishment of military subordination of media. In the end of 1993 and in the beginning of 1994 this Herzegovinian decided to increase his property as well. He decided to become the owner of OTV, but for this operation he needed money. He therefore appealed to Miroslav Kutle and then everything was quite simple: Kutle's previously robbed money reached Grubisic via Dukat savings bank and Globus Holding, and then this money was divided in cash to fake share-holders and in the final phase of the operation they paid it to the Privatisation Fund. That is how Grubisic, for the benefit of his best man Kutle, became the owner of the then only private television station in Zagreb. That OTV has in fact become Kutle's property the public learnt only when details on Grupo media group were published.

The friends split in 1994 when Bolkovic sided with Stipe Mesic and Josip Manolic who left HDZ and founded the party called Croatian Independent Democrats. Soon after, Grubisic forbade Bolkovic access to OTV having previously taken his show off the program without warning. Although the show was later put back on the program again, Bolkovic was obsessed by hatred towards his boss during the following five years. This hatred was manifested in a strange way, though: Bolkovic publicly praised Grubisic, and secretly called journalists and supplied them with juicy details from Vinko's private and business life.

Bolkovic's "split personality" (simultaneous hatred and adoration of Vinko Grubisic) became especially prominent when the Grupo scandal broke out and when it was revealed that Grubisic, Pavic, Kutle and probably Pasalic decided to become masters of most of the media space. When documents on secret partnership were published and when Grubisic and Pavic were sent to Remetinac for a two-day stay, Bolkovic paid an announcement on a whole page in both Slobodna Dalmacija and Vecernji list and then set out to write on Grubasic's sinlessness, his talents and great human value. Such behavior would have been peculiar even if one had not known that Bolkovic himself participated in the distribution of documents on secret partnership of the powerful four: a year before Grupo scandal broke out he was the person authorised by Miroslav Kutle to represent his financial and business interests, so he had access to all his business documentation.

In the course of that year that passed between Kutleís authorisation and publication of the Grupo scandal Bolkovic naively believed that he could once and for all and with the help of Kutle, get even with Vinko Grubisic, deprive him of ownership of OTV and, if possible, put him away behind bars. He also relied on the assistance of the newly elected President Stipe Mesic, who was his friend at the time they were dissidents, and he bragged around Zagreb that he would be appointed to the key post in creation of the media scene, the post that was intended for Ivic Pasalic in Tudjmanís Croatia. It did not work out that way at all: Bolkovic underestimated the power of Kutleís relationship with Grubisic, and overestimated his own influence on the President of the Republic.

Disappointed with Mesic and the new authorities which did not recognise and duly appreciate his alleged merits in overthrowing HDZ, Romano suppressed hatred towards Grubisic and crawled to pay his respect. For Grubisic who for Pasalicís sake in the meantime arranged removal of Zinka Bardic from the post of the editor-in-chief of CNN News, paying respect in the form of a paid announcement was not sufficient, so Romano Bolkovic set out to prove his patriotism by putting himself fully at the disposal of Ivic Pasalic and Miroslav Tudjman. That is how Romano Bolkovic became the loudspeaker in the hands of national plunderers and protectors of the indicted war criminals. It somehow seems that this role suits him best.

Ivica Djikic