On Saturday, the Živi Zid political party used a paid advertisement on the Facebook social network to launch an attack on Jutarnji List’s journalist Željka Godeč. In the Saturday edition of Jutarnji list, she published the article “Financial Holes in Živi Zid”, an extensive analysis of Živi Zid’s finances, which showed that the party did not spend its money in a transparent way. The report was corroborated with documents and a State Audit report. The State Audit confirmed to Godeč that the documents had been forwarded to the competent State Attorney’s Office for further investigation, reports Jutarnji List on January 28, 2019.
Not long after the publication of the article, Živi Zid launched a blistering attack. On Facebook, the party paid for an ad featuring a photo of journalist Željka Godeč with the inscription “Expert for False News – hanzamedia,” adding the #fakenews hashtag with the Jutarnji List logo. Hanza Media is the publisher of Jutarnji List.
In a shameful ad that looks like a call for the lynching of the journalist, the party attacked her on a professional and personal level. The ad says that “for years, she has been systematically trolling against Živi Zid, writing half-truths, drawing conclusions that do have nothing to do with the facts, constructing theories which are a lie, but doing it in the form of questions so that she cannot be sued.” The ad ends with a question: “What do you think, is she manipulating the facts because she is illiterate? Or simply evil?”
Given that Živi Zid bases its popularity in large part on social networks, the ad has reached a large number of people. It quickly spread among Živi Zid followers. Particularly worrisome is the fact that a couple of hundred comments, many of which are full of hate speech, have been added to the post.
This is an unprecedented act and an attack on the media that no political party has ever dared to launch in Croatia. “This is an inappropriate way of communication and an open call for the lynching of the journalist. We strongly condemn this kind of behaviour,” said Jutarnji list editor-in-chief Goran Ogurlić.
The article alleges that the State Audit report on the party’s finances is full of allegations about irregularities, suspicious payments, unsubstantiated travel expenses, payments for intellectual services without documentation and proper records.
The party’s seat is located at the same address where one of its politician, Ivan Pernar, lives. In the first six months of 2017, the party paid 150,000 kuna for consultancy costs, 53,750 kuna for lawyers and 25,000 kuna for accounting services. However, according to auditors, “there are no specifications for the services provided, no description of the type of service provided, and the period when they were provided.”
According to the State Audit report, the party is mainly using cash transactions. Payments were made in the amount of 170,854 kuna, referring to material costs, hospitality, fuel costs and official travel. However, it is not clear to whom the money was paid, and the recipients have not signed the receipts. And there are no enclosed documents that could be used to confirm that the business events really took place.
More news on Živi Zid, the third (or occasionally second) most popular party in Croatia, can be found in the Politics section.
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Tomislav Kukec).