When we look back, there are few things in the past 300 or so days which are worth the memory space. The bad took a turn for the worse. But, as there is always a silver lining, let’s try and be wiser, learn a thing or two. For a start, let us remember the five terms that marked the year 2020.
Ventilator: Companies from all over the world have been hired to produce PPE, and respirator prices surged. In Bosnia and Herzegovina it was tourist agencies and agricultural companies that dealt with procurement of PPE. It was bought via opaque public tenders. The ventilators were ten times more expensive. A difficult situation for the people was turned into crime, and an opportunity for the political elites to take our money and put it in their pockets. There are worldwide plans for vaccination, and ventilators in BiH are still ‘on life support’.
Silver raspberry: When you are surprised by a viral epidemic and urgently need a high volume of ventilators, what is to be done? Of course, first you have to find a handsome TV presenter. Required professional skills: farm ownership, preferable friendship to Naser Oric or another special task expert at the SDA. And so, the BiH public met Fikret Hodzic, the owner of Silver Raspberry farm, the ‘ideal’ man to import ventilators during a pandemic. In coordination with the Federal Department for Civil Protection and the Federal Government, beyond legal procedures, and without a valid permit to import medical equipment, this particular farm received ten million KM from the government budget to import ventilators. For everything else, look under ‘Ventilator’.
Field hospital: So you’ve bought a marquee. A huge one, for both weddings and funerals. And pre-election gatherings for SNSD. In any case, it is a business that can’t fail in this vicinity. As long as there are folk singers and cattle funds, marquees will be in demand. So you invest hundreds of thousands of something, you arrange weddings, plan for funerals, count on the election, and then – a pandemic. No weddings, funerals without an audience, the elections are far away… What to do? As anyone who wants to be a millionaire overnight, you’d ask the audience, but the audience is in quarantine now. You can try 50/50, but it’s not worth risking that much money. So you call a friend. It’s not your fault your friend is the President of Republika Srpska.
-Hey, Radovan, how are you doing?
The rest is a scandal about the procurement of a field hospital. The hospital was originally in Germany, and the ‘good friend’ is Slaven Ristic, the owner of ‘Balkan Global’, a Bijeljina-based company. Two days before the State of Emergency was announced in Republika Srpska, a contract’s been signed. The public prosecution has opened the case. And it’s been sitting there since.
The patient’s journey: ‘Federation entity Prime Minister Fadil Novalic has been admitted to a clinic in Sarajevo, after being diagnosed with heavy pneumonia.’
‘Banja Luka Mayor Igor Radojicic hospitalised in a Banja Luka clinic after testing positive for Covid-19’. As it’s been reported, ‘Radojicic’s health has been stable and he will receive special treatment…’
That is what a VIP patient looks like.
Unless you are, as Milorad Dodik says, inside the government system, the journey of a regular patient who has been infected or suspects of having been infected with Covid-19 usually ends on a ventilator after days of searching for a doctor to treat them. That is, if there is a ventilator. And as we say – if we do have one, where did it come from?!
Grease the palm: In May last year, the online magazine ‘Zurnal’ published a videotape of Milan Tegeltija, head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council , agreeing the resolution of a case that’s been stuck in the system for a while, in a cafe. In return, as one of the men in the video states, the president needs greasing his palms. A small price, a few thousand KM. The scandal soon went viral, but without a legal epilogue. Tegeltija remains head of the Council. A year and a half later, he returns in the main role, this time in the sequel to this blockbuster, Grease the palm 2. Now he is agreeing a deal with a member of the Council regarding appointing her sister as a judge. The affair caused great public attention. Of course, no one believes that the episode will have a righteous ending. Obviously palm greasing is still in fashion.
Eldin Karic, long term journalist, and one of the most prominent actors in the battle against corruption. Head of the Anti-corruption network ACCOUNT BiH, and editor of the online magazine Zurnal. Executive Director of the Center for Media Development and Analysis.