Will the citizens of Republika Srpska fall for propaganda and conspiracy theories?

Originally published by Maja Bjelajac of Radio Free Europe at: http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/ho%C4%87e-li-gra%C4%91ani-rs-nasjesti-propagandi-i-teorijama-zavjere/25264494.html

Will the citizens of Republika Srpska fall for propaganda and conspiracy theories?

February 14th, 2014

The government of Republika Srpska (RS) is terrified that the social revolt in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FBiH) will spread to their entity. It is not clear to many however whether those in the regime are more afraid of the danger to the RS, or of the loss of their own positions, the latter being very likely if socially marginalized groups revolt.

Because of this, the authorities in RS mobilized the full capacity of their propaganda machine, spinning stories to the public about the dangers which are lurking in the smaller Bosnian entity [the RS]. The government has brought into play all the well known rhetoric about foreign mercenaries, domestic traitors, and conspiracies hatched abroad.

The daily newspaper Pres recently dedicated its front page to a self-described political analyst from Tuzla, Mehmedalija Nuhić, who stated that the demonstrators in Tuzla were arming themselves and preparing to come to the RS if the protests expanded. Nuhić also declared that the purpose of the social revolt was the violent centralization of BiH. Only a few days later, but importantly after numerous media outlets in RS and in Serbia broadcast this information, it was revealed that Mehmedalija Nuhić is a municipal inspector, and not a political analyst.

For analyst Tanja Topić from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, this all amounts to a well tested recipe for the reproduction of conspiracy theories:

“Experience tells us that in our region, they [those in power] rely on the constant creation of enemies and traitors, with the goal of disparaging and discrediting all those who think differently. According to them, it is essential to create a homogenized and patriotic national identity, and to direct all anger against local traitors and foreign mercenaries,” says Topić.

The theme of national homogenization doubtlessly also contributed to the statements of the president of BORS [the Veterans Organization of RS], Pantelija Ćurguz, who had a very similar tone as the self-pronounced analyst Nuhić. The leader of the veterans association insisted that “the screenwriters of the protests in the Federation of BiH did not succeed in spreading their destructive protests to Republika Srpska, and because of this they are planning to include some extremist organizations.”

From the paper Ćurguz barely read the exotic names of alleged para-military organizations which, along with the Green Berets, supposedly threatened to destabilize the situation in BiH. It seems as though the orchestrated spin capaign and intimidation from the RS is reaching its peak.

They will not deceive us:

However, national homogenization of the kind imagined in the propaganda machinery of the RS regime will not pass. This was confirmed by the statement of the president of the Veterans of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), Duško Vukotić:

“It is hard to deceive those of us who carry the lies from 1992 in our veins and in our wounds, the lies of a war that was fought in the name of somebody’s goals, when the goals were obviously those of elites and tycoons. It will be very hard to deceive us again this time. They must know that it is our generation and the generation of our descendents that make up the majority of the population here. It is known that the government is most easily sustained through the method of divide and conquer, and thus everything is run following this maxim. However this is very, very ugly, and very dangerous for the government itself. Whoever thinks that such a method will allow them to stay in power, I say that such a methodology presents the biggest danger exactly for them,” said Vukotić.

However, regardless of this danger, the president of the RS and the Alliance of Independent Social-Democrats, Milorad Dodik, is leading a powerful campaign in exactly this direction. Appearing recently on the state TV channel of Republika Srpska, Dodik stated that “99% of the demonstrators are Bosniaks, and individuals paid off by the office of the executive director of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Serbia, Nataša Kandić.” He also accused the largest opposition party in the RS—the Serbain Democratic Party—of participating in global plans to create chaos in this entity and in BiH.

And while Dodik points his finger and internal and external enemies, the non-governmental sector has a completely different opinion about what exactly threatens Republika Srpska.

“First and foremost, the greatest enemy of the RS is the loan that Milorad Dodik gave to his son Igor Dodik for 3,000,000 KM, so that he could build an orchard. This is one of the biggest problems. The second problem is the villa in Dedinje [Belgrade suburb] owned by Milorad Dodik, which he built next to the king’s residence. One of the problems is that members of the Radmanović family [Nebojša Radmanović, Serb member of the Bosnian presidency] are employed in all institutions in the RS. It is also important to emphasize the gravel pit of Panteljia Ćurguz and the fur coat of Ranka Mišić. These are personifications of the biggest problems in the RS. Until these problems are resolved, we cannot speak of prosperity or progress,” stated the president of the Association of Citizens for a Free Republic, Nikola Dronjak.

Drumming up fears about the dangers of a new war is the spin of the RS government, because an atmosphere of intimidation—in which they target exclusively those who think differently—suits only them. What is nevertheless beyond doubt is that the government of Republika Srpska is already waging a special war, with the exclusive goal of preserving their positions of power, and scoring points with voters in an election year.

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