Sensationalist Claims on “Racket” Scandal in Belgrade “Blic” Daily
The Serbian daily newspaper “Blic”, on 24 January 2020, published an article about the ongoing trial of Bojan Jovanovski (Boki 13) in the “Racket” scandal, whose title reads “BOKI 13 TIRED AND SWOLLEN – the main actor of “Racket” affair is deformed, claims that he is ill and that he went to hospital 55 times, but refuses further analysis” (BOKI 13 IZNUREN I PODBUO Glavni akter AFERE REKET se izdeformisao, tvrdi da je bolestan i da je 55 puta išao u bolnicu, odbija dalja ispitivanja).
Despite the sensationalist headline, the article, in fact, talks about Boki’s health condition and the difficulty in obtaining health care, which he claims is the result of months of detention since 15. July last year.
The article would not have received much attention unless the two passages at the end contained a statement from an anonymous source:
Boki 13 has been the director of 1TV for several months, and has employed the son of a prominent official from the Ministry of Justice through whom he and his associates have access to a large number of audio recordings of secret conversations of businessmen, bankers and public figures from Macedonia.
And in the last passage, it is said that “Boki allegedly used those recordings to blackmail influential people from whom he demanded several hundred thousand euros in order not to post the recordings on YouTube. Some paid him, but there are some recordings that were posted on YouTube because they allegedly refused to give him money.”
These are striking claims that contain serious accusations against Boki 13. And as such they require serious evidence. Of course, the evidence is missing.
1TV HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN FOR MONTHS
This anonymous statement also contains a bit of truth in order to easily manipulate readers. The public is aware that Boki 13 was the director of 1TV until his arrest, but the channel, for months now, has no director and no employees because it no longer exists and has been shut down. The latest news on the channel’s portal is almost 3 months old and its TV signal is not being broadcasted.
Furthermore, it is true that the son of former Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva was employed in this television, but she is not a “prominent official from the Ministry of Justice”, as the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) and the Ministry of Justice are quite different institutions. This anonymous statement anticipates that not every reader will make this distinction and that they will believe the claim that the son of a “prominent official from the Ministry of Justice”, gave Boki 13 “a large number of audio recordings of secret conversations between businessmen, bankers and public figures from Macedonia”. The manipulation in this statement becomes clear when one realizes that the Ministry of Justice does not have any audio recordings of secret conversations. The recordings of illegally wiretapped telephone conversations are in the SPO, not in the Ministry of Justice. And, when it comes to some other recordings emerging from the investigations of the SPO or the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of North Macedonia (PPORNM), then such recordings are also located in the prosecution offices and not in the Ministry of Justice. Of course, this statement does not specify the type of recordings and it is deliberately created to further blur things, to conceal details, and to instil into the readers’ memory the fact that secret audio recordings were obtained and used for blackmail.
OTHER INVESTIGATIONS ARE THREATENING BOKI 13
In fact, this anonymous statement contains other known information. But the details have been deliberately distorted and twisted in order to confuse readers. Namely, since the releasing of the illegally wiretapped telephone conversations in 2015, VMRO-DPMNE officials and other indicted persons by SPO, have claimed that public figures were blackmailed with the release of such recordings if they did not pay. However, this happened 4 or 5 years ago, when VMRO-DPMNE was in power and it has nothing to do with Boki 13, nor with the “Racket” scandal. The recordings of politicians, bankers and other public figures were really posted on YouTube back then, but they have nothing to do with Boki 13. That was long before the founding of 1TV and the appearance of Boki 13 as its director and for those recordings (or at least part of them) an investigation was conducted in which neither Boki 13 nor anyone associated with the SPO had any connection whatsoever and no one linked them to the conversations posted on Youtube. It is also true that wiretapped conversations of businessman Orce Kamčev appeared on YouTube after “Racket” was already present in the public domain for a long time, but they were released after Boki 13 was already in custody, so those recordings could not be related with him either. In the anonymous statement, all these details remain unexplained in order to shift the blame to Boki 13 and possibly the other defendants in “Racket”. And again this is done to confuse the public who knows that conversations have been posted on YouTube, but now the alleged culprit/culprits is/are being served.
What one needs to know is that Boki 13, Katica Janeva and the other defendants in the “Racket” scandal are not charged with anything that is mentioned in the anonymous statement. The “Racket” indictments have nothing to do with any “secret audio recordings” from anyone.
In the “Racket” case Boki 13 is charged with the offences of “receiving awards for unlawful influence” and “money laundering and other profits of crime’, i.e. for extortion of 1.5 million euros of Skopje businessman Jordan Kamčev in exchange for his release from custody.” Also, none of the other defendants in “Racket” is charged with any “secret audio recordings”. There are also no such charges in the other indictment against Boki 13, which relates to him and the activities of his accomplices in connection to the work of the NGO International Union whose founder was Boki 13.
HOW CAN THIS STATEMENT BE REUSED?
Lastly, what usually happens when Serbian media publish something sensationalist, is that the media in North Macedonia, especially those spending a huge amount of energy to link the “Racket” affair to the current government and each and every one of the Government ministers, is to convey this anonymous statement as “exclusive”, referring to “Blic” without any further evidence. The purpose would, of course, be to cause additional confusion, to use the disinformation to accuse the political opponent and to collect political points at the expense of their political bosses.
It should come as no surprise if this anonymous statement, full of falsehoods, was made for such a purpose – not to inform the Serbian public, but to be used for political purposes for home use here in North Macedonia, using the credibility of “Blic”, without mentioning that “Blic” has released an anonymous statement full of falsehoods.