A brief history of bullying

A brief history of bullying
The entity governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina prove they can cooperate when it's in their best interest.
The state-sponsored bullying, as horrible as it is, not only undermines the free press, but also violently discourages any form of journalism that isn't only "bread and games."
On November 11, 2014, the Sarajevo-based news portal Klix published an audio clip that claimed to contain an excerpt of a phone conversation between Željka Cvijanović, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska (one of the two Bosnian and Herzegovinian entities) and an unknown female. In the 59-second clip, received from an unnamed source, PM Cvijanović purportedly discusses her options regarding bribing two members of the RS Parliament in order to ensure that her proposed government gets a majority vote. From the context, it can be assumed that there are at least two representatives who have originally rejected the bribe - Cvijanović refers to the two as "papci" ("papak" being a Bosnian slang word that can be literally translated as "hoof," the kind you can find on, say, a goat, usually refers to someone of provincial world views; however, a more fitting translation in this particular case would be "prick"). Cvijanović then claims that two others were bribed, and that in case they change their minds, there are another two lined up as well.
The leaked soundbite resulted in an outrage from everyone except those who should have led the line; the entire case was soon dubbed "Afera dva papka" ("The Two Pricks Affair") and although it had caused quite an uproar in the media in the entire country and the opposition parties in the RS, the police and the judicial system simply kept quiet. Until November 15 at least, when the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP RS) filed a case against not Cvijanović, but the unknown perpetrator of illegal wiretapping. This turned the entire case on its head, and Cvijanović was now presented by the authorities as a victim, instead of a potential instigator of a criminal activity at the highest level of government in RS and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Actually, the MUP RS managed to clear her of any wrongdoing by claiming that the audio clip was in fact "fake [...] recorded with special technically sophisticated devices for audio and videorecording, where individual phrases spoken by the PM were taken out of context and then edited together with other phrases to create a montage." No proof was presented to go along with these claims, and even the director of the MUP RS, Gojko Vasić, introduced doubt as to whether the clip was subjected to any kind of forensic analysis, saying that “it didn't matter,” and that the prosecutor's office in charge will soon request a forensic investigation by both domestic and foreign experts.
In a clear attempt to distract and manipulate the public, the MUP RS then put pressure on Klix to reveal their source by tagging them as the prime suspect in the illegal wiretapping case and summoning their editor and owner for an interview in Banja Luka around December 1. Invoking their right to keep their sources anonymous, Klix refused. Notable journalists and experts publicly condemned the pressure from Banja Luka, and it seemed that the pressure had subsided. Then, on December 29, Klix's main office in Sarajevo was stormed by members of the MUP RS, assisted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Sarajevo Canton (MUP KS), backed by a court warrant issued by a Municipal Court in Sarajevo's judge Igor Todorović. In what can be simply described as a siege, the journalists were ordered to step away from their computers and were banned from publishing anything related to the raid. The owners, Dario and Mario Šimić, the editor-in-chief Jasmin Hadžiahmetović, and one of Klix's journalists Edita Gorinjac, were detained on the premises and questioned for nine hours. The offices were thoroughly searched, and all materials, including all computers found at the office, personal cell phones, memory sticks, CDs and DVDs were seized.
However, the legality of this raid is the first thing that has to be questioned: for instance, Article 9 of the Law on protection against defamation of the Federation of BiH, as well as Article 10 of the Law on protection against defamation of RS guarantee the right of journalists to protect their source of information. This means that Klix had the full right to protect the identity of the source of the Cvijanović clip, which makes the attempts by the two MUPs to either bully Klix's staff or determine the source by searching their computers and other devices illegal. Logically, this also brings into question the legality of the warrant served at Klix's doorstep, and makes the involvement of the judicial system suspicious at best. Were the authorities working in the best interest of this country's citizens? Or did they have the best interest of political elites in mind? Their behavior in this case seems to point to the latter.
The second issue is the sudden ability of the government bodies from the two entities to cooperate only when it's favorable to them to do so: just two days before the raid on Klix, a hiking accident on the Romanija mountain claimed the life of a woman who fell into a chasm. However, it was a different kind of chasm that prevented her from getting the appropriate medical care as soon as possible: the RS authorities (Mount Romanija being under their jurisdiction) rejected the option of getting an FBiH-based rescue helicopter from nearby Sarajevo, opting to wait for an RS one from Banja Luka instead, despite the fact that Banja Luka is several hours away. The severely injured woman thus had to wait for help from 1:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., when the helicopter from Banja Luka finally reached the site of the accident. She was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Kasindo Hospital. This blatant display of disregard for human life when inter-entity cooperation doesn't serve anyone's political interests clearly illustrates that the Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities, usually depicted as incapable of crossing entity lines, are definitely able to function only when it matters to the all-powerful politicians. 
In the immediate aftermath of the police raid, Klix suddenly gained legitimacy due to an outpouring of support from the entire journalism community in BiH and abroad, but soon began to discredit itself by indiscriminately publishing reactions from those who were previously known for their questionable ethics and moral stances or nationalist agenda, who tried to present the raid as directed towards a certain ethnic group, and not human rights in general. This backfired, causing a certain portion of the public to reconsider their support, while at the same time allowing for the relativization of the event and the introduction of conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the audio clip, which distracted many from the main issue in this story. 
Struggling to separate the wheat from chaff, the public wasn't sure what exactly they were supporting: a churnalism and clickbait-based middle-of-the-road news portal and its problematic content seemed to overshadow the state violation of free press. Klix didn't help its cause when they manage to insert themselves into the coverage of the Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7th, managing to mention themselves and their own struggle in the first news article on the story, clearly disregarding the fact that the two cases are, in fact, quite different. These obvious editorial mistakes and other factors have definitely affected the perception of Klix's case, and it will be interesting to see if and how the public will react to any future developments. 
Also, it seems that the climate of intentional relativization created by those involved in the "Two Pricks Affair" allowed for other aggressions towards members of the press to surface. On January 2, 2015 in Mostar, two editors of Tačno.net, an independent news portal, Štefica Galić and Amer Bahtijar, were approached and verbally assaulted by three men in their 30s as they were exiting a cinema in one of the local malls. The assailants verbally abused them in front of Galić's three year-old granddaughter, ending their tirade saying that they "will end up like Slavo Kukić." As a reminder, Slavo Kukić is a university professor from Mostar who was recently the victim of an assault in his office, when a man barged in with a baseball bat, inflicting injuries that only incidentally didn't cause any permanent damage. Shocking as it is, the local police wasn't much bothered by the verbal assault, telling Galić and Bahtijar that "whatever will be, will be." In the meantime, it turned out that one of the assailants was a government employee, working for the Ministry of Security of BiH.
The Klix case finally saw some justice in the past week, when the Council of the Municipal Court of Sarajevo decided that the warrant was unlawful, and that all seized materials and equipment must be returned to its rightful owners. At the time of publication of this article, there were no new developments in the Tačno.net case. However, the stakes are higher than the return of unlawfully seized computers, or swift arrest of those responsible for verbal assault on journalists.
It is the importance of stories such as the "Two Pricks Affair" in a country in which coverage of the search for the new national football team coach outnumbered that of the U.S. terror report (listing Bosnia and Herzegovina as one of the countries with a CIA black site, which should be enough to make it a top story for weeks, if not months) 16 to 1, and where almost every TV channel would rather air a non-stop playlist of turbofolk music instead of looking into and publicizing stories that could reveal just how corrupt and incompetent our government really is. The state-sponsored bullying, as horrible as it is, not only undermines the free press, but also violently discourages any form of journalism that isn't only "bread and games."
Media Integrity