This is called Raw Video of Croatian Protest and Police Clashes.
Protests continue in Croatia
22 March 2011
Since late February, continual protests involving thousands of people have been waged in many cities and towns throughout Croatia. Young people, in particular, are demanding the resignation of the right-wing government led by Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. Workers and farmers are protesting against low wages, horrific working conditions and the precarious situation in the former Yugoslav autonomous republic.
Underlying the protests is the deteriorating social situation. Croatia was hit hard by the financial crisis, which the Kosor government met with a brutal austerity programme involving a drastic reduction in wages and benefits. The economy shrank by 1.4 percent in 2010, and the unemployment rate reached 19.6 percent. The unions say the wages of 70,000 employees are not being paid.
Demonstrations were held in several Croatian cities on Saturday, March 5. About 1,500 participants assembled in the northern Croatian town of Varazdin, according to the Hina news agency. The co-organiser of the protest, Denis Mladenovic, said, “We do not want a state in which the workers work without getting paid, in which they end up on the street after working for their firm for 20 years, and in which young people are left with no perspective.”
On March 6, more than 8,000 people gathered in the country’s capital, Zagreb, to hold the biggest demonstration so far. It was led by women workers from the Kamensko textile factory, who have been denied wages for months and are now out of work. The reason they have no job is because the company was forced into bankruptcy after its corrupt management was shown to have exploited close ties with the government.
The situation at the Kamensko factory reveals why the protests are spreading throughout the country. The company was lavishly subsidised by the government, but the money disappeared into dubious channels and it went bankrupt, while the workers went without wages for months.
On March 10, thousands of demonstrators amassed in front of banks and politicians’ homes, as well as the party and union headquarters in the Croatian capital. They chanted slogans against the government and the opposition parties.
Resentment is also directed against Croatia’s Catholic Church, whose representatives are closely associated with the political parties, and regularly spout nationalistic and chauvinist poison from the pulpit. “Priests are thieves!” shouted the crowd in front of a cathedral in Zagreb. “Down with the child molesters!”
Some demonstrators wore masks bearing the image of the former prime minister, Ivo Sanader, who is currently awaiting extradition in an Austrian detention centre. The long-time head of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), who operated with his party stalwarts to systematically plunder state institutions and companies, is seen by the population as a symbol of a thoroughly corrupt and rotten system.
Sanader was arrested on the Tauern motorway near Salzburg in December 2010 and immediately placed in detention, pending extradition. According to the arrest warrant, the Croatian judiciary accused the former prime minister of abusing his office and setting up a criminal consortium. He is said to have defrauded the Croatian state budget of €6 million via the dubious transactions of companies closely related to him. It is believed that the money ended up in the secret funds of the HDZ and elsewhere. He is also accused of involvement in the Carinthian Hypo-Alpe Adria bank affair, and suspected of participating in a money-laundering operation in Austria.
The Croatian anti-corruption prosecution office, the USKOK, is also investigating Sanader in relation to a new case. It accuses him and Croatian businessman Robert Jezic of intention to use Jezic’s petrochemical firm, Dioki, to hive off about €10 million from the JANAF state oil company. In doing so, Sanader again committed an abuse of office, according to the authorities.
It is believed that he pushed through the sale of a land site for oil storage tanks—supplied by Jezic—in Zagreb in 2008 and 2009. The site’s price of €28 million was overvalued by €10 million. The meeting between representatives of JANAF and Jezic is said to have been organised by the former economics minister, Damir Polancec, who is already in custody awaiting trial for abuse of authority. When JANAF initially refused to go along with the deal, Sanader personally argued for the purchase of the property at a meeting with the firm.
Sanader denies the charges against him, claiming they were politically motivated. He opposes extradition to Croatia on the grounds that he cannot be expected to receive a fair trial there, although the country is ruled by a fellow member of his party, Jadranka Kosor, whose career he cultivated for many years.
The wave of protests is being supported by broad sections of the population. A survey released by the Croatian state television channel HTV showed that 70 percent of Croats support the protests. Only 21 percent are against it and 9 percent are undecided. One in three of those questioned is planning to participate in future demonstrations.
Political and social unrest has increased in the Balkan region during the past weeks and months: here.