The media owned by Dragan Šolak’s United Group have started to put increasing pressure on the Anti-Corruption Council to draw up an unfavourable report on Telekom Srbija’s business operations. This would give them an alibi and a justification for the dirty campaign that they have been conducting for months against Telekom, Kurir, and Wireless Media.
Although the Council’s reports are not legally binding, United Group’s media – above all N1 and Nova S – are trying their best to make sure the report is adopted as if it were the Holy Scriptures. What is behind all this is their attempt to justify their attacks against Telekom and their unprofessional reporting on the operation of this domestic company. This is why a question can be raised here whether the Council will manage to resist this pressure or give in to it. Furthermore, another question can be posed regarding who will be accountable and who to bring charges against for the damage that these companies have incurred if the report is different from what has been announced by United Group’s media.
As the biggest domestic telecommunications company, Telekom has recently found itself in the crossfire of Šolak’s TV stations N1 and Nova S, as well as their portals. A small number of interlocutors wholeheartedly help them in this task, and a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, Jelisaveta Vasilić, is nearly always among them. She is openly suspected to have a conflict of interests, given the fact that her daughter is employed at Nova S television station. After an unsuccessful attempt to push her report on Telekom’s business operations through the Council, Vasilić has now drawn up her personal view on the collaboration between Telekom and the company Wireless Media. United Group’s media machinery was set in motion in order for this opinion of hers to be forcibly turned into an official stance of the entire Council, which is at best inappropriate.
Pushing its own interests to the fore, United Group twists and masks facts in its media campaign against the competitors, even persistently describing the contract between Telekom and Wireless Media as ‘fictitious’. N1 and Nova S deliberately pass over the crimes committed by their accomplices and associates, withholding a crucial piece of information from the public: the published elements of the contract between Telekom and Wireless Media were obtained illegally – the contract was practically stolen! United Group has in this way trampled upon the basic principles of business culture and illegally announced to the entire public the business strategy and market-sensitive information on its competitors.
Clearing the ground
By calculated attacks against Telekom and labelling it as concluding ‘fictitious’ contracts with Wireless Media, United Group’s media grossly discredit the standing and professional reputation of these companies. Under the guise of caring for the public interest and under the banner of free and professional journalism, they are clearing the ground for their bosses, in order to make Šolak and Đilas’s political and business alliance as lucrative as possible.
Lawyers Nemanja Govedarica and Dejan Dobrosavljević think that this contract cannot be termed fictitious if it regulates the rights and duties of the two parties which have signed it:
‘Fictitious contracts are usually used to hide something or conceal certain facts. However, if it is a contractual relationship between two parties, which defines the mutual duties and rights, including the terms of termination in the event that the agreed obligations are not fulfilled, there is no reason to call it a fictitious contract,’ Govedarica explains.
His colleague Dejan Dobrosavljević, a former judge, thinks it is an ordinary contract between two companies:
‘It is a classic business contract, concluded between companies across the world. It is unclear to me why anyone would call it fictitious,’ Dobrosavljević says.
Despite the fact that the contract has both contracting parties’ signatures, and that it contains a fair and balanced agreement benefitting both contracting parties, Šolak’s media keep sneaking in their own ‘truth’.
It is telling that the main actor of the majority of the stories run on N1 and Nova S is Vladimir Todorić, the lawyer of the Party of Freedom and Justice leader Dragan Đilas. Economic, financial, and legal experts see no problem in this arrangement, and the only one attacking the abovementioned domestic company’s contracts is Todorić. The energy that Todorić puts into defending United Group’s interests and disparaging Telekom’s business successes provides further confirmation of the actual facts – that Šolak and Đilas have a political as well as a lucrative business deal, which was the focus of Kurir’s comprehensive investigation in the previous period. We have demonstrated how nearly all of Đilas’s business has passed into Šolak’s hands. All these business machinations were carried out in an entirely non-transparent fashion, embedded as they were in an entangled network of associated companies and entities in offshore zones, and hidden behind front companies, with the aim of masking the business ties of this duo.
It will be interesting to see how much the Council view on this case will be similar to the views that Todorić put forward in the previous period.
PROBLEMATIC MEDIA APPEARANCES
Will Vasilić face the consequences?
United Group regularly uses the same individuals for its campaign against Telekom – those who are ready to defend Šolak’s interests on behalf of the institution at which they work. For instance, Jelisaveta Vasilić attempted to push through an unfinished report on Telekom’s business operations as the basis for criticising this domestic company in United Group’s media. Kurir has already reported that the Council had not adopted that report, as four members of this body did not vote in favour of it. As a result, the report was sent back for revision, but that did not stop Vasilić from persistently dragging Telekom through the mud. United Group’s media have been using Vasilić for one year now in order to disparage Telekom. Her media appearances would not be questionable if she were introduced as a former judge, which she indeed is; however, it is problematic that she keeps appearing as a member of the Council, although this institution has not taken a stance on the issue of Telekom’s operation. Further, a question can be raised regarding the consequences that Vasilić will face if the Council does not take a view similar to hers in the report it will adopt.
DOES THE COUNCIL HAVE THE STRENGTH TO RESIST?
Why does Miroslav Milićević act under pressure from Šolak and United Group?
Vice President of the Anti-Corruption Council Miroslav Milićević has been relatively successful so far in resisting the pressure put on this institution, above all by United Group’s media. This is why it is a bit surprising why he has agreed as a result of new pressure to the Council making an official statement regarding the contract that has been stolen, which has a page missing, which has not been run by the document’s actors, and about which the Council has not requested an explanation from the parties mentioned in it. Bearing all this in mind, a question can be raised regarding what information they base their decisions on, and if they have all the information to be able to provide an opinion. One is left with an impression that the Council must take a stance without having full information. In the final analysis, we no longer know if it has the strength to resist the pressure, or why it has agreed to act under pressure from Dragan Šolak and United Group.
‘We have not received a call from the Council.’
Wireless Media has replied that no one from the Anti-Corruption Council has tried to get in touch with them in relation to the contract with Telekom Srbija:
‘We would like to take this opportunity to tell everyone interested in this topic that we are at their disposal, because everything is transparent,’ the company said.
Kurir.rs/ Redakcija Kurira Foto: Screenshot NEM