By: Haris LJEVO
The former prime minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski wrote from Hungarian capital Budapest on Tuesday, where he requested political asylum.
- I'm currently in Budapest and I requested political asylum from Hungarian government, posted Gruevski on his Facebook page. 'I will remain loyal to Macedonia. I will never retreat', wrote Gruevski who is under arrest warrant issued by Macedonian government.
His statement reminds of an old pattern of behavior of most of right wing politicians and businessmen close to the right wing parties, who swear by patriotism and love for their homeland while they manage political processes in their countries.
The moment they lose power and find themselves in the midst of court trials, they decide to escape from their 'beloved homeland', and all of them with one identical justification. They defend themselves by a story about political persecution by their opponents and all of sudden they remember how corrupted the judiciary is in their country.
Until that moment, while they were ruling the country including the judiciary that they used to blackmail and persecute their political opponents, those very same 'patriots' were trying to convince their fellow citizens that the judiciary is working alright and that it ought to be trusted.
There are thousands of examples all over the world such as Gruevski... however, let's seize the opportunity to mention a few 'big fish' in BiH and the region. Nikola Gruevski as one of them.
Perhaps the best known fugitive in the region is the former prime minister of Croatia and the president of HDZ, Ivo Sanader. He ruled Croatia with sovereignty for years before deciding to escape to Austria in 2010.
Sanader left Croatia as a free man as there was no arrest warrant issued at the time. One request for removal of immunity by the Croatian State Prosecutor's office to the Assembly (sabor) was enough for him to realize that the time had come to cross the border crossing Bregana. He was arrested near Salzburg while paying toll.
Ivo Sanader was for many years an untouchable figure in Croatia. Besides politics, he ruled the economy, media, sports, while some literary stars, Miljenko Jergovic amongst others, actively participated in creating Sanader's cult of personality, having nothing less than praise for him.
At cultural events, book promotions, art exhibitions... Sanader always used sit in the first row. Croatia... that is me, was his way of life, until Croatia, at the doorstep to the EU, decided to confront the corruption.
All of sudden, it was not Sanader's beloved country, so the biggest patriot turned into a fugitive and a face from the arrest warrant.
Zdravko Mamic chose a similar path. The first person of Zagreb's football team Dinamo and the person who thought that after him there will be no boys who could play football. He loved Croatia more than himself, until he was found guilty of pulling money from Dinamo. On the eve of reading the verdict, Zdravko Mamic left Croatia to escape to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prior to that, he made sure he was 'equipped' with BH citizenship.
- I expect to be acquitted as during the court procedure it was unequivocally established that the charges against me and my friends are not supported by material evidence. On the contrary, we are proven innocent, said Mamic for TV Nova on the eve of verdict reading before the Cantonal court in Osijek. He explained to be in Medjugorje only temporarily as he did not understand what it was that he should run away from.
The Cantonal court in Osijek convicted Mamic et al and issued sentences of 6 years and 6 months for Zdravko Mamic, his brother Zoran got 4 years and 11 months, Damir Vrbanovic 3 years and Milan Pernar 4 years and 2 months in prison. Zdravko Mamic was ordered to go to investigative prison until validity of the verdict, however, he found solace in BiH instead, where he is spending his time watching football games all across Herzegovina.
The one who ran away in the opposite direction was Ante Jelavic, the former member of the Presidency BiH and the president of HDZ BiH. The Court of BiH convicted and sentenced him to 10 years in prison in the case 'Herzegovina Bank' for misuse of financial support from Republic of Croatia that was originally allocated for Croats in BiH. He was charged for obstruction of constitutional order, military and defense power of the country and the misuse of position and authority.
Like Mamic, Jelavic had left the country before verdict reading. The Appeal Council of the Court BiH cancelled the verdict and called a new trial which has not taken place as today. Although under arrest warrant, he lives in Zagreb as a free man owing to his Croatian passport.
The most powerful man in Croatia, Ivica Todoric, after the Agrocor affair last year, decided to escape to London. Todoric kept Croatian political parties and media under his tight financial control for years.
- I'm in London because my human rights have been gravely violated, my legal security has been endangered, and I will sue every right to fight against lies about me as a fierce opponent to the positive laws of my country. That isn't so, and I will prove it. I will not allow to be convicted without trial by some political decree, as well as to be silenced... it is obvious that my talking bothers those who took the ownership away from me. On the contrary, I will talk a great deal as freedom of speech is one of the basic human rights as much as some are bothered by truth, stated Todoric having escaped to London.
After more than a year in London, Todoric was extradited to Croatia where he will be tried for pulling money from Agrocor. The Cantonal prosecutor's office in Zagreb launched an investigation against Todoric, his sons Ivan and Ante and 12 Agrocor's managers and auditors for on the account of illegal acquisition of billion and 142 million of HRK.
Bogoljub Karic is a Serbian version of Todoric. Karic, a businessman born in Kosovo, started building his empire during Slobodan Milosevic's regime. After Milosevic's fall and change of government, accused of business malversations and illegal acquisition of wealth escaped to Russia, Karic escaped to Russia. From there he managed numerous businesses of his own and his brother Dragomir in Belorussia and former Soviet Republics. He returned to Serbia in December 2016.
Karic is the leader of political party the Forces of Serbia Movement (Pokret snaga Srbije), and a coalition partner of Aleksandar Vucic's Serbian People's Party (SNS). In an interview for Belgrade's Blic in March 2016, Karic announced his return to Serbia and said that he only believed in God and Aleksandar Vucic. Upon his return to Serbia, Karic announced political campaign for the position of prime minister.
There are many more examples... And although there are certain differences as far as the processes, there is one common denominator – as they try hard to avoid ending up in prison, they all end up leaving the countries where they were once the authority.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, wrote Dr Samuel Johnson, English wit and author in the 18th century.
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