Pro-Russian propaganda from “Andrićgrad” financed by public funds
A portion of tens of millions marks of public funds that have poured into the accounts of "Andrićgrad" in previous years is being use for the open pro-Russian propaganda. “Iskra” portal, whose impressum reads that it is the electronic newspaper of "Andrićgrad", contains nothing on tourism, which should be the main activity of this complex.
Author: Miljan Kovač
Therefore, one can regularly read about the “advancement” of Russian forces in Ukraine, and there are also articles by the well-known pro-Russian propagandists, such as Alexander Dugin, famous and extreme Putin’s ideologist.
Putin instead of tourism
“Serbs, hold on, just a little bit is left. Russia will become stronger and will be able to come to your aid”, reads the title of the text published on December 25 of this year. The text conveys Dugin’s comment from the social network “Telegram” in which he comments on the events in Serbia after the recently held elections in that country.
“The same people who sent Milošević, Karadžić and all the heroes of unconquered Serbia to the Hague want to take Vučić down. I believe that the traitors, who want to hand over Kosovo to the enemy, should be exterminated mercilessly”, reported “Andrićgrad” newspaper Dugin’s message.
In just one month, “Iskra” published a dozen of texts by this author, known for his ultra-right views.
This portal regularly publishes the contents of the media under the control of Vladimir Putin’s regime, including the text of Andrej Viktorovich Manojlo, “an expert on colored revolutions”. Electronic newspaper of Andrićgrad, as stated in the impressum, regularly publishes reports and analyses from the Ukrainian front lines, unsurprisingly only from one side, the one close to Moscow.
Milorad Dodik’s adviser, Pero Simić, is a regular columnist of this newspaper. “Iskra” columnists, known for their pro-Russian anti-Western views, are professors Milo Lompar, Slobodan Antonić, as well as Miloš Ković, who was once banned from entering Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Voice of Emir Kusturica
“Andrićgrad” was officially founded in 2011 by the Government of the RS, the municipality of Višegrad and the company "Lotika" of the movie director Emir Kusturica. The total founding stake was 10.000 marks, whereof 5.100 marks were invested by Kusturica’s “Lotika”.
Based on this stake, although the RS Government had invested 15 million marks in the construction of the complex (at least according to the official data), Kusturica had sovereignly managed “Andrićgrad” as the majority owner until 2021. The accounts were blocked due to accumulated debts.
The RS Government then came to the rescue and decided to take over the majority ownership package with a recapitalization of 2.000.000 marks, which unblocked the accounts.
A commission was previously formed to determine the distribution of ownership shares based on the investment. The RS Government thus became the owner of 63.70%. Kusturica didn’t actually lose anything, because with this increased share, Republika Srpska took over the debts accumulated under Kusturica’s administration. Of course, he is still an indispensable factor in this complex, and most certainly in “Iskra”, whose official profile on “Telegram” is named “Iskra - the voice of Emir Kusturica”.
The investment that left Kusturica with 21.80% share has remained unknown to the public to this day.
Who owns “Iskra”
In the meantime, the management of “Andrićgrad” was entrusted to the Olympic Center “Jahorina” by the decision of the RS Government from April 2021. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of OC “Jahorina” Nedjeljko Elek, as a representative of the state capital, de facto became the first man of “Andrićgrad”.
The Olympic Center “Jahorina”, which has been managing “Andrićgrad” since recently, states to know nothing about how “Iskra” is being financed. They even seem unaware of whose newspaper it is, and despite the contents of the impressum claim that the movie director Emir Kusturica, who is the head of the “Andrić Institute”, is responsible for its editing.
“Mr. Elek is on a business trip, and we can’t give you more details without him,” briefly answered this company. The law of silence applies in “Andrićgrad” when Elek is travelling, as it has been confirmed to us.
However, claims that “Iskra” was their newspaper were denied by the “Andrić Institute”. “The portal does not belong to us, but to Andrićgrad,” shortly said Željka Ostojić, the person in charge of contacts with the media at that institution.
People will pay for all of it
The hydropower plants on the Drina river also made an effort to ensure that public funds for financing of pro-Russian propaganda, among other things, are not missing. On September 15 of this year, this company awarded “Andrićgrad” a contract for its advertising at Aca Lukas’ concert, worth 60 thousand marks without VAT. A negotiation procedure was applied for the award of the contract, so there was no chance that “Andrićgrad” would have let this profit slip away.
The municipality of Višegrad had previously also concluded several direct contracts with this tourist company. All contracts refer to “media representation”, although “Iskra” does not write about the activities of that municipality.
Analyst Tanja Topić says that there is no room for surprise that a newspaper financed by public funds is spreading pro-Russian propaganda, because the leadership of the RS openly chose the Russian side. Non-transparent spending of public funds is also part of established practice here.
“So far we have not seen that there is any concern among the power holders about the spending of citizens’ tax money, nor that the level of citizens’ awareness has reached the questions regarding spending of their money. Citizens are not asked whether they are in favor of spending money for propaganda purposes, but I think that a good part of citizens agree with that,” says Topić.
The fact that a good part of the public is “intoxicated by patriotism and anti-Western narrative, while packing their bags and heading towards that hateful West” is devastating.