Croatia: A Stalinist Lean?

Zoran Mamic (left) and Zdravko Mamic (right) Photo: Ivica Tomic

Zoran Mamic (left) and Zdravko Mamic (right)
Photo: Ivica Tomic


Arresting someone on suspicion or charges of tax fraud and embezzlement is not an uncommon thing throughout the world, so the fact that it occurs in Croatia is really not as newsworthy as the government controlled large part of Croatian media makes it out to be. But very few countries could beat Croatia and the current government’s sensationalistic executions of arrest and search warrants at the time when they should actually be publishing what they are doing to prevent hordes of young people exiting Croatia in search of work elsewhere.

When the Croatian public learned on Friday 3 July that the state bureau for combating corruption (USKOK) had finalised its investigation into allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and evasion against the “bosses” of the Croatian most successful soccer club “Dinamo – Zagreb” and that arrests were imminent, the implicated brothers – Zdravko Mamic, the chairman of Dinamo Zagreb, and his brother Zoran Mamic, the club’s coach – were in Slovenia attending the club’s training camp. The Mamic brothers wasted little time and returned to Croatia to face the authorities but as soon as they crossed the border in a car Croatian police arrested them and drove them to prison from where they are expected to face the court and apply for bail! It’s not as if they were on the run from Croatia! Their homes were searched also and the president of the Croatian Football Federation, HNS, Damir Vrbanovic, was also arrested and placed into one-month custody as a measure preventing any influence on possible witnesses.
Zdravko Mamic is suspected of taking undeclared commission fees from the sale of several Dinamo players to foreign clubs. He has denied his and his brother’s wrongdoing. Sales of Dinamo players of note include: Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid), Zvonimir Boban (AC Milan), Robert Prosinecki (Real Madrid, Barcelona), Eduardo da Silva (Arsenal) and Alen Halilovic (Barcelona).
Zdravko Mamic, known for his ardent love of the Croatian nation and its independence, responded by saying that the criminal investigation represents “genocide” against him, his family, Dinamo and the Croatian state.
“…The whole world will find out about this and will see that the government which is the descendant of the Communist Party has not moved away from its methods, that is, political reckoning with those who think differently. Of course all this is an order from the very top of the government, from the Prime Minister down…It’s clear from all his public outbursts that concoctions of various affairs against people of right-wing political orientation are rife…”

Croatian TV news said Saturday 4 July that this case represents the largest amount of money that the anti-corruption bureau USKOK has so far investigated. Reportedly USKOK alleges that brothers Mamic have through corrupt dealings, embezzlement, scooped for their personal benefit the sum of 117.8 million Kuna (15.2 million Euro) from Dinamo football club and 11.2 million Kuna (1.5 million Euro) from the state budget i.e. tax. Mamic brothers have denied guilt to these charges and vow to prove their innocence.

Croatian media said that the Mamic brothers are accused by the USKOK bureau as having channeled the funds into their private accounts by taking undeclared commission fees from the sale of Dinamo players to foreign clubs and through “illegal” contracts with individual players.

Zdravko Mamic’s solicitor, Jadranka Slokovic, said that her client had laid out a very wide defence through which he denied all charges put against him. She stated that in her opinion this is a case of a “malicious procedure through which documents about transfers of football players are wrongly read and presented” and that “on the other hand, we are looking at a political procedure that has the elimination of Zdravko and Zoran Mamic as its goal.”

The former president of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, commented that it would be hard to even think that the charges of corruption were an election tool (for the leftist Social Democrats), because that would mean that Croatia is a Stalinist society, and that’s not true – he said.

That indeed is yet to be seen when it comes to this particular case but sadly the due process for either guilt or innocence will not pass through the courts before the elections early 2016. So, in effect, the arrests at this particular time and the sensationalism created around them do smell of political fodder for the public; and that fodder will not benefit the conservative political parties but the ones Josipovic and current government subscribe to. In this year of 2015, arrests on suspicion of corruption and fraud should be a “normal” matter, a “days work” so to speak instead of being unleashed into the media as some sensation that lasts for days! Croatia has been and is riddled with corruption and these latest arrests with their media fanfare for the benefit of the ruling political parties do strongly suggest that it is still all about politics and not about stemming out corruption at every level. To me, whether “brothers Mamic” or some local government officials were found guilty of corruption (and there are multitudes of those) is one and the same thing – equally bad, equally unacceptable. But people of “brother Mamic” social calibre and standing are perfect for the creation of public hysteria, whether “positive” or “negative” – and either does leave noticeable imprint on “opinion polls” and eventually on election results. This really does remind one of manipulations akin to a “Stalinist state” for in a true democracy corruption is individualised and individuals if found guilty bear all the responsibility, not the people or the nation. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. This certainly seems a very heavy handed way of dealing with two people who came back voluntarily to face the charges.
    I’m really sorry that the ways of the communist party are lingering so long in a country that chose to travel the democratic route and hope that future elections will sort the anomoly out. A democratic people deserve a democratic Government and the more democratic way of sorting out corruption.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I so agree David, people deserve so much more. Arresting people for corruption is at best a newsflash and not something that occupies the front pages for days…if persons arrested are innocent then good on them if guilty then good bye for a long time – that’s the way it should be. But they still like playing politics with everything and anything individuals do…annoying to me

  2. MelbCro says:

    I think Mamic is a corrupt crook, he is not good for Croatian football. So I’m not going to shed any tears for him.

    Also Prosinecki and Boban were not sold by Mamic to anyone. He wasn’t the president of DInamo when either player was at Dinamo.

    • MelbCro, Mamic may be or he may not be crook, I’d rather wait for due process to finish that is the least everyone deserves. It’s the publicised manner of arrest and ongoing stories related that bother me not whether someone is guilty or innocent. If someone is found guilty then they deserve no words of praise or any positive emotion. Am aware he was not president when all the “Hall of Fame” of Dinamo players were transferred out…thank you for your comment

    • they weren’t sold to anyone….. prosinecki was sold to red star Belgrade….. world champions 1991

  3. Lets be real. The powerful are corrupt. It’s in our human nature to want more but I don’t blame anyone for trying to hide their money from the taxman. We have been sold lies that we have to pay taxes. The Governments used to print money until the banks took over and we were chosen as slaves to pay back with interest in the form of taxes. This country especially is so taxed that I can’t blame anyone. Today, the rich get away with paying them while we regular folks end up having our bank accounts frozen.
    As for these two brothers, I don’t follow the sport so I can’t speak on this matter but having lived in a Democratic world and returning here, does remind me of Stalin ism. This country is corrupt itself so why are we surprised when someone is found out to be corrupt? The reason I don’t follow sports is because it’s not a sport, it’s a money making machine. Long gone are the days of sport when people played for the sport with LOVE, representing it’s country. I find it disgusting the millions of dollars these sports people earn while most of the planet is hungry. If they are guilty, they will pay the price, if not, it’s just proof that we are not in a democratic society. Democracy is not what we are, it’s another lie sold to us. Great post Ina.

    • Thanks Ines – it really ticks me off when sensation is made of arrests for corruption in a country riddled with it! Arrests should be made without so much media coverage. This tells me that arrests for corruption are still an exception rather than the rule in a country evidently riddled with corruption and filled with big politicians talking non-stop about fighting corruption.

  4. Investigations related to allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and evasion are also very common over here… I think they are awful in all cases, but wore than a celebrity getting into this stuff is the case of a high public servant as happened here during the beginning of 2000 when ex president Carlos Menem was accused of arms trafficking… But at least found guilty and sentenced to prison.
    Your posts are always thought provoking dear Ina. I thank you for sharing things about our dear Croatia.
    All my best wishes. Aquileana :star:

    • Thank you, Aquileana – I’d like to see more arrests and less media coverage on the issue in Croatia and I trust at least some arrested will be proven innocent, hence the more reason not to orchestrate these politically motivated media charades

  5. Not a supporter of Mamic as I do think his influence is at least partly to blame for the mess in Croatian football, but it is very suspicious that it’s constantly the supporters of the right-wing parties not being allowed their due process and a fair & balanced representation in the media. I see it happening all over the world these days – the commies are playing their dirty tricks at a full force.

    • Yes, Kat – Zdravko Mamic is not liked by many and is considered arrogant and greedy and has answers to provide for his role in making the mess Croatian football is in; his and his brother’s arrest as well as that of HNS president couldn’t have been in a more politically maneuvered manner than what it was. Such maneuvering leaves little room for a bystander to feel trust in the fairness of due process and considering a person innocent until proven guilty. There is more damage done to the state and Croatian nation by “small” crooks in local governments and public companies who have been pilfering the public purse for decades, lived in each others pockets, covered for each other…than by any Mamic but these local thieves are getting away with daylight robbery like there’s no tomorrow – bribes, nepotism, tax evasion, grey economy…and they’ll keep on thieving until USKOK applies the same rules of serious work to all regardless of personality or the amounts involved.

      • Exactly Ina, exactly. These “small” crooks get away with it only because they have their heads wedged firmly up the butts of the leftist government and their buddies in the media and various other institutions. Mamic may be greedy, he may be arrogant and a plethora of other things, but I hate, hate, hate these double standards and the hypocrisy. And the way his arrest is handled just further serves to create tensions between people in Croatia, to further pull the wool over people’s eyes. Awful, so awful. If only the ground would open and swallow these socialist thugs.

      • Wishing for bottomless sinkholes to open under the feet of current communist government may just bring it on, electorally wise, Kat

  6. I’ve come to realize that most of what is presented as “breaking news” is designed to keep the people off balance. I see it here in the US every day. Divide and concur–keep the people looking the other way. Governments bringing charges of corruption and fraud is hilarious. I’m for term limits. Two terms: one in government, one in prison.

  7. The communist-chetnik horde ruling Croatia is laughing all the way to the elections. With Jugosipovic unprompted referring to Stalinism surely confirms Stalinism. What a f’n mess in Croatia. Serbia rules us through divide and conquer…when they poke us we just roll over and let them poke us again, and again. Did you notice that when Serb leader in Cro said that Serbs are maltreated in Cro, no one from the government or Opposition reacted…even though 7 government ministers are Serbs…if only Croats in Serbia were so maltreated as we maltreat Serbs with Government ministerial appointments.

    • Croatia needs men and women at the helm, Sunman, and not these half-baked wannabes and nasty pieces of political work…

      • Ina, I find so very sad and disturbing that Croatia has not had the will, initiative or righteousness to express the true narrative of it’s independence as a fight for freedom against Great Serbian expansionism and fascism. Instead, we are portrayed as the aggressor and while the true villain portrays itself as a victim. Serbia has dominated the narrative and completely distorts the truth because it simply can. No counter argument, no facts, or objection, nothing is forth coming from either the Government, Opposition or NGOs. It is so vital that our narrative and the truth be continually reinforced. The consequences of this and the equalization of guilt put forth by idiots like Mesic, Pusic, Jugosipovic, Milanovic and the left has devastated the psyche of the Croatian people. It has humiliated us and crushed our spirit, messed up our compass and resolve; if our leaders question our victory and put us in the same category as the aggressor who perpetrated 90% of all the war crimes and devastated our beautiful homeland and crippled its people how can we be united, how and why woudl the world ever believe otherwise. Our leaders continue on with corruption which even further weaken us internally and our credibility throughout the world. Never thought that after such as heroic and just victory we could have let ourselves sink so low.

      • Oh you are so right, Sunman – and I think the will-power akin to the one that keeps the veterans protesting for months is what Croatia needs more of. Strong, fast with replies, loud, unwavering and unyielding about the righteousness of Croatia’s independence and the fight for it.

  8. Mamici brothers are very good for Croatia, good managers for Dynamo club, good manager for Dynamo youngsters and above all they are visionary. They had reorganised everything, and came up with the soccer school for the youngsters, and as a result, they produce fantastic players for Croatia as a whole.

    Moreover, Dynamo contributes to the national team each and every year with exceptionally good talents, which are today the best ambassadors for Croatia.

    Unlike some other soccer clubs in Europe, Mamici have always provided paychecks, bonuses etc to their stuff and the players, they have never been in areas.

    I wish there is more Mamica in Croatia; Croatia would better in every way

    • Club results certainly speak for the Mamic brothers, db, no one is liked by everyone neither are they and they (or anyone) did not deserve this bloodthirsty way of hounding and arrests – after all, they did not run away, they came to Croatia from abroad to face justice. It seems to me that Croatia’s bureau for fighting corruption is more corrupt than any charge-sheet they could come up with. We wait patiently for the outcome without prejudice.

  9. I’m still trying to understand all the nuances of your country, its political history and current position. It appears that the government (Prime Minister) in particular is a successor of communism and therein lies the rub. Elected by the people? Perhaps similar to our own astonishment at who is in office here – and how? Is the seat reflective of the citizens or is something else happening… Don’t know enough about Croatia. And why would these brother’s be targeted? What is the agenda? The news is national – by the way…

    • Of communist stock, indeed, Helena. Hence, the painful crawl to full democracy meaning all live and breath it may never come while communists haven’t shed their red skin…why the brothers are targeted is an easy question to answer: they get you the mots political points in the process and bugger the fact that there are thousands of others who are “smaller corrupt crooks” in comparison but who are the real culprits of the state’s poverty and much of the economy woes. Why people voted in communists? Well just as in America the election results depend on how many people voted, since voting is not compulsory then “voter recruitment” skill and capacity becomes crucial…a dirty deed indeed. Australia has the best system I think: voting is compulsory and the only way one can get a result as if one has not voted is by not ticking or numbering the boxes – lodging an invalid vote – and these are comparatively rare. Croatia’s voter turnout has been around 50% at general elections and vote recruitment is quite visible or palpable…

  10. Ina, recently Serb FM is threatening any country that sends delegation to Storm anniversary military parade.-

    This is surreal. The aggressor, who was justly beaten refuses to accept defeat and continues a policy of hostility and aggression on Croatia. If this is not a cumulative reason to end diplomatic relations with Serbia, then we may as well give up and surrender to Serbia because we has lost all we fought for.

    • Oh dear, how awful Sunman – Serbia’s PM Dacic says that anyone who goes to the 5th August parade – Croatia’s Victory Day – is against Serbia, what a pathetic little man. I hope the parade is longer and more crowded than possible.

  11. Almost sounds as bad as FIFA!

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