Introduction & Updates in National Landscape
Planned terrorist attacks because of epidemiological measures
53-year-old Drazen Kostan from Sibenik was charged with planning terrorist attacks. The police and the state attorney’s office believe Kostan planned attacks on many people: politicians, judges, doctors, scientists, journalists, and various institutions. Kostan was arrested in March 2022 and then suspected of robbery, the elements of a more serious crime appeared later in the investigation. He was collecting various information about the people he planned to attack, and the police took the threat seriously because an impressive arsenal of firearms and military equipment was found in Kostan’s possession, including pistols, hand grenades, a machine gun with a sound suppressor and laser aiming, a hand-held rocket launcher.
Kostan intended to commit the terrorist attacks he is accused of planning because of his views on the Covid-19 pandemic, i.e. the epidemiological measures that were introduced to make it difficult for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to spread. On his Facebook profile, Kostan often shared disinformation and conspiracy theories related to the pandemic, epidemiological measures, and vaccination against Covid-19. He spread the lies of the Russian regime about the war in Ukraine, glorified Vladimir Putin, and spread disinformation propagated by the QAnon community, as well as claims of the globally well-known conspiracy theorist David Icke and his domestic counterpart Kresimir Misak.
According to the attorney’s office, the defendant downloaded several videos via the Internet and applications of Marko Francišković, at public meetings held at the end of 2021, in several cities in Croatia, calling on citizens to overthrow the current political government. Marko Francišković was recently released from pre-trial detention after the court, on several occasions, did not confirm the indictment brought against him for inciting terrorism.
Transnational Activities & Group Interactions
New ultraconservative campaign imported from Poland
Campaigns of Catholic men kneeling with rosaries on main city squares in Croatia have begun. This is the basis of the project of the influential ultra-conservative association Croatia for Life, whose activities are regularly financed by the Ivić Pašalić Rhema Foundation. Individuals associated with the Ordo Iuris Foundation, whose Polish version of the same name lobbied for an almost complete ban on abortion in that country, also participate in the project. This well-connected group of fanatical activists whose prominent protagonists spread the idea that a woman should give birth even if she is raped, who link abortion to Nazism, and who have been begging in front of public hospitals and health centers for years. At the same time, they imported the custom of men kneeling while praying in public space from influential activists from Poland, who designed this ritual as activist resistance to the gay parade, LGBT “propaganda,” the “invasion” of Muslim migrants, and the secular state.
Like all other campaigns of Catholic activists of the new type in Croatia, this one was imported from abroad. The first kneeling men were noticed in 2009 in Warsaw. The gathering was designed by the Polish extreme right association Piotr Skarga, the founder of Ordo Iuris, a think-tank with enormous political power in that country. According to the statement of Maciej Maleszyk from the Piotr Skarga association, the first gathering in 2009 was organized against the gay parade in Poland. On the occasion of the centenary of the Fatima “apparitions” of Our Lady, in 2017, they repeated the ritual. The practice, now organized by various far-right organizations and the Catholic Church, spread to Poland and then, in 2019, to the world. One of the most important gatherings took place in the town of Przemyśl, at the instigation of the town councilor Dariusz Lasek, in agreement with the local bishop Stanisław Jamrozek. A few months ago, Lasek stated that the gathering of men with crowns in public from the beginning to this day is actually a gesture against “various deviations hidden under the acronym LGBT+” and the “rainbow plague”, which, according to his knowledge, also promotes pedophilia. He said that their task is to stop the mentioned “filth” from entering Poland – the last bastion of Christianity in Europe. To this day, the men there pray the rosary on their knees against the standards of the World Health Organization in raising children. In 2019, Lasek pushed a decision to stop LGBT “propaganda” in the area of their local self-government in the Przemyśl council. The decision, as in other Polish cities, attracted global media attention and the expected reaction of Europe. When they realized that stopping “gay indoctrination” could cost them millions from the common EU budget, they withdrew that decision, unfortunately for Lasek, one of the important individuals for the popularization of prayer kneeling in Poland, Croatia, and the world.
The original initiators of the idea of kneeling from the Piotr Skarge association in the Polish-Croatian public are interesting because they co-founded the Vigilare Foundation, headed by John Vice Batarelo, who was also at the prayer in Zagreb. Prominent individuals from the Croatian version of the Ordo Iuris are intimately involved in this project here. Their Croatian lawyer, Filip Đekić, is the deputy editor of the portal Muževni Budite (“Be a Man”). He is one of the initiators of the initiative 40 days for life in Croatia and the coordinator of the Walk for Life in Zagreb 2019.
The organizers announced that they would pray “for the conversion of the Croatian people,” “for a life of premarital chastity, for chastity in dress and behavior, for the renewal of Catholic marriages,” “for the end of abortion,” and for “men,” with the desire to “become spiritual authorities in the family who will bravely witness and transmit the Catholic Church.” The previous prayers in public spaces are just the beginning. They announced, again following the example of Poland, that they will hold kneeling events in Croatia every first Saturday of the month.
The Croatian diaspora from Australia finances the revision of history
A new far-right “Association for the Promotion of the Truth about Croatian History” appeared. The president is a former HDZ candidate in the Croatian presidential election, Andrija Hebrang, the vice president is the well-known Holocaust denier Igor Vukić, and the secretary is another far-right journalist, Tihomir Dujmović.
The work of the new association is financed by Marko Franović, a Croatian emigrant from Sydney, who offered ten million kunas to the person who will “debunk the myth of Jasenovac.” By his own admission, Franović also financed the work of the Slovenian pseudo-historian Roman Leljak, who until a few years ago was the main revisionist star in Croatia, and at one time also financed the presidential election campaign of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
In his public statements, Franović claims that 1991 was a repeat of 1941, that Yugoslavians and the sons and grandsons of butchers are in power in Croatia, that the government is actually arming Serbs in Croatia by financing the Serbian minority, that Serbs hate everything that is not Serbian, that they are genocidal. people and that Jasenovac was a labor camp. As he said last year, he already sent the first million HRK to his homeland to gather far-right historians such as Josip Jurčević, Stjepan Loza, Blanka Matković, and researchers Vukić, Leljak, and others to organize scientific meetings against the official historical narrative.
BIRN investigates the Croatian branch of Blood and Honour
BIRN has been able to link four men with the Croatian branch of Blood and Honour. The organization meets in secrecy, nurturing ties with affiliates in other countries and discussing the ideology behind hidden profiles on social media and closed channels on messaging apps. They call for a “clean Croatia” and promote hatred towards migrants.
But this summer, two men, visitors to Rijeka, briefly lifted the veil of secrecy when they posed for a photo on Kantrida beach, bare-chested and showing off tattoos of swastikas, the SS Totenkopf death head and, on one of the men, the face of Adolf Hitler.
Anti-fascist activists identified one of the men as a guitarist affiliated with the Hungarian branch of Blood and Honour and, in doing so, managed to name a member of the Croatian branch too.
BIRN made contact with Patrik Vidmar in Rijeka. Vidmar’s Facebook profile was recently deleted, but BIRN found him tagged in a photo on Facebook showing a group of men on their way to a right-wing concert in Italy. In the photo, Vidmar is sitting beneath flags of Blood and Honour and ‘Skinheads Croatia’.
The second one is Bojan Mohoric, BIRN has found that Mohoric published photos in 2020 with a flag of the Croatian branch of Blood and Honour on his Twitter profile. According to Croatia’s official registry of associations, Mohoric is the founder of the Nevera Cultural Identity Society. At the association’s registered address in Rijeka, BIRN found Marko Turkalj, a musician from Zagreb who confirmed that the association was registered at his home address. He said that Mohoric lived in the same building but was on vacation. Mohoric’s association shares the same goals as the Croatian branch of Blood and Honour, namely the promotion of Croatian and ‘European’ identity. It claims on its website to act within the ideological framework of Croatian nationalism and European ‘identitarianism,’ a movement that argues white Europeans are being displaced by foreign immigrants. In late October, BIRN found Mohoric at a debate on the rise of the right at a café in Rijeka, sitting across from Patrik.
Another neo-Nazi concertgoer is Hrvoje Pavlicic, who posted a photo from a Blood and Honour concert last year. After being contacted by BIRN, Pavlicic removed the photo and a number of others posts and then blocked the BIRN reporters on Facebook. In his social media activity, Pavlicic has expressed hatred of migrants and other minorities. Pavlicic’s profiler also previously featured a photo depicting knights primed for battle with the hashtag #refugeeswelcome. Pavlicic is a member of the Order of the Silver Dragon, a Croatian association dedicated to the preservation of ancient customs, beliefs, and crafts. Another of Pavlicic’s photos shows him in a t-shirt with the words ‘White Pride Worldwide’ written around a Celtic cross, a common white supremacy symbol; another shows him among a group of people beneath confederate flags and the slogan ‘Rock against Communism,’ the name given to a series of right-wing concerts held in Croatia.
In Osijek, eastern Croatia, BIRN tracked down another member of Blood and Honour to a tattoo studio called Mad Arts but also known as Mosquito. The owner, Josip Mujcinovic, has a photo on his Facebook page showing him in a shirt featuring the words ‘Blood and Honour Croatia.’ His studio offers tattoos of the Black Sun, a well-known neo-Nazi symbol. Outside the studio, Mujcinovic told BIRN he did not have time to talk. He had the number 88 tattooed on his neck. After the encounter, Mujcinovic deleted photos showing him in the company of individuals in Black Sun t-shirts; his own shirt bore the word ‘Defend,’ widely used among rightists to mean ‘Defend Europe.’
The police and DORH did not inform journalists that they were targeted by an alleged terrorist https://seecheck.org/index.php/2022/11/24/the-police-and-dorh-did-not-inform-the-journalists-that-they-were-the-target-of-the-alleged-terrorist/
Hrvoje Šimićević in Novosti about new ultraconservative campaign imported from Poland https://www.portalnovosti.com/s-koljena-na-koljeno
Manipulacija kozaračkom djecom https://www.portalnovosti.com/manipulacija-kozarackom-djecom
Music Mobilisation: The Concerts Connecting Neo-Nazis in Croatia https://balkaninsight.com/2022/11/14/music-mobilisation-the-concerts-connecting-neo-nazis-in-croatia/