Aleksandar Trifunovic: Dodik has turned into the very thing he fought against

Screenshot Aleksandar Trifunovic för Bljisak.info
Screen shot: Aleksandar Trifunovic for Bljisak.info

Aleksandar Trifunovic, editor of Banja Luka–based portal BUKA  recently found himself on a list of “undesirable elements” in Republika Srpska, a list made by Milorad Dodik and SNSD.

In an interview for BiH portal Bljesak.info Trifunovic talked about how the threats have not stopped coming since BUKA has decided not to “choose sides” and simply side with the truth, and about how he once protested toghter with Dodik and about how Milorad Dodik has since coming in to power turned into the very thing he once fought against.

According to Trifunovic, Dodik had enormous support from the international community because he had distanced himself from Milosevic. However since then he has started using the same methods as Milosevic used to frighten his opponents.
BUKA is on the list made by SNSD as one of the media outlets working to destroy Republika Srpska.

What makes BUKA a threat to the authorities in RS?

BUKA conducts it´s self with great professionalism regardless of the project, whether it be a magazine, a show or a news portal. And it has been that way for the last fifteen years. We have never placed ourselves in the service of any political party in the past and we don´t do it now. We try to put out the truth and well-reasoned and well documented information not worrying who we may offend. We do not put out lies, libel anybody nor do we agitate against some, while being in the service of others. To conclude, our editors have final say in what we put out, and nobody else. In all these things I have mentioned to you, I see a reason why we would find ourselves on this list by SNSD.

Recently, using social media you reminded everyone that as far back as 1997 you organized the first political protest in RS and that back then you had by your side Milorad Dodik the current entity president. What has changed since then?

We did not know each other back then but we were  on the same side. Back then he was a leader of a small political party who along with a few other parties supported the protests. Those protests helped him become the premier of the entity even though he only had two representatives in the People’s Assembly of RS. He did however have the enormous backing of the international community, above all due to the fact that he had distanced himself from Milosevic. He had once written an open letter to Milosevic asking him to step aside and stop harassing opponents and journalists. Today Milorad Dodik has turned into the exact opposite of everything he then wanted and represented. This turnaround means that everything he has done before has lost all meaning. The way he has decided to deal with opponents is identical to the way Milosevic dealt with them, and the politics are also the same, the politics of constant conflict for which he himself had criticized Milosevic for.

You have said that ever since then, there have been threats, different types of pressure and labeling. What kind of threats are we talking about?

Whenever you are called out in public, especially when it´s coming from the portal backed by the largest party in the RS, and that is SNSD, stating that you are an enemy of the RS and that you are the undermining constitutional order, is a serious accusation. Presented with no evidence, it´s a lie with a dangerous intent, and a result of these false allegations can be terrible.

Since there was no serious condemnation of such publications on their site, I  can only conclude that the majority of the members of SNSD agree with what is being written, which makes them accomplices in the dissemination of false information. There have always been threats and pressure, and calling people out publicly, but given the way in which this was announced, I treat it as the most serious threat so far.

What do you think is the real reason for this list of  “destroyers of Republika Srpska”

The real reason is an attempt to shift the blame for Dodik´s disastrous seven years in power, on to someone else. SNSD has left behind a waste land and the citizens and the entity are in a bigger debt now than when SNSD came to power. At the same time Milorad Dodik has managed to keep his property which is worth millions, as was reported in official property records. It´s hard to explain to the people how come he himself was so successful in this period while at the same time the people suffered. Therefore it is necessary to look for a culprit somewhere else and to draw attention away from themselves. I think this is impossible, because the extent of impoverishment of the people is enormous.

The media in RS, mainly those under political control are trying to give the impression that there is no need for protests in that entity and that the social unrest in the country is isolated to Federation. How close is RS to social unrest?

I think it’s hypocritical to constantly keep repeating that protests are bad for Republika Srpska,  specially when it comes from representatives of Milorad Dodik who wouldn´t be where he is today if it wasn´t for protests. Still it´s encouraging that protests are taking place, even though there is an enormous pressure and people are afraid, even still more and more people have the courage to publicly voice their opinion and to say that things are bad and that we need a change.

What is your opinion about the situation of media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and how much are they responsible for the current situation in the country? Is the media in fact the extended arm of politics?

The media is not much different from it’s ‘surroundings and from society, journalists income is at a very low level and even if they should be, they do not represent the elite in our society. Public Service is almost entirely in the hands of the politicians and politics, and given its participation in large companies it affects the earnings of private marketing companies. There is almost no solidarity within the journalistic profession. So that means that the media we have is simply the consequence of, and not the reason for the catastrophic public situation in this country.

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