Ivo Sanader "has AIDS"

Serbian tabloid Kurir, a paper with a questionable reputation I must add, claims to know why Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader quit his job without giving any explanation. Sanader "has AIDS". Kurir does not mention any sources, but refers to the treatment Sanader underwent in hospital, beginning August. Sanader, while cruising the Adriatic, urgently had go to a hospital, where he was eventually diagonalized with pneumonia. Earlier he was said (rather: we were told) to suffer from some dangerous contagious disease, then Legionnaires' disease, but in the end it was "just" pneumonia. Or not. Maybe this juggling with diseases is just a cover-up for AIDS...
Or maybe Kurir just fabricated this story.
In today's edition the paper wonders if Sanader is gay. However regrettable is would be if Sanader had AIDS, him being gay would be wonderful news because the Croatian gay community could use strong political backing.
Sanader was once asked on TV if the allusions that he was gay bothered him. He answered: "No, because those allusions are false". And then he added something that is of current interest. He claimed that the rumors he was gay came from right-wingers in the HDZ party (Sanader's party) and that he "threw them out of the party."
Although many in the HDZ deny there are left-wing and right-wing factions, it is generally felt that these days the right-wingers are tightening their grip on HDZ. Indications are, first of all, Sanader's resignation, almost two months ago. After that, hardliner Andrija Hebrang announced he will run for president. This week, the president of the Croatian parliament Luka Bebić (HDZ) announced his departure from politics. He spoke of "certain political forces" that want to destroy HDZ. These "forces" are known by the name "Lisica", meaning fox. It's all very vague and foggy, but what is clear is that the ruling HDZ is a snake-pit. I guess we'll find out in the not so distant future which HDZ-snake has the strongest jaws.

Capital of boredom

U2 gave two concerts this week in Zagreb. It was the biggest event in a decade as famous artists usually shun Zagreb. Tens of thousands of tourists came to Zagreb. It was unusual to see the streets teeming with foreigners, because Zagreb is not a tourist destination and many Croats spend the summer on the coast.
After two tumultuous days, Zagreb is as it always is in summer. Hot, empty, boring. Zagreb missed a great change to show itself to so many visitors. Truckloads of wealthy U2 fans couldn't change euro for kuna because the exchange offices were closed. So were most pubs, restaurants and clubs. A foreign visitor with an empty stomach said sarcastically on TV: "Zagreb is very lively in the morning, but dead at night. There's no night life here."
When Zagreb was chosen as one of Europe's most boring destinations last year, Zagreb's tourist organization vehemently protested. But thousands of visitors can't be wrong. Zagreb is the capital of boredom. Shopping centers are small and you can get most things cheaper in Slovenia or Austria. Museums are small, poorly equipped and they close their doors in the weekend at 1 PM. There are no grand parks, the Sava river (banks) and the ugly bridges that span it are depressive. The ropeway to Sljeme (the 1033 meter high mountain at the foot of which Zagreb is built) have been out of order for years now. All Subway sandwich bars will close down. There is no underground. The public library has only a handful of English books. Graffiti is all over the place.
Maybe I am too harsh. I do love Zagreb in a way, although it's a bit boring, provincial and small. What really annoys me is endless nonsense about Zagreb as a "modern European metropolis". "U2's concerts prove Zagreb is a true European metropolis," I heard someone say. Give me a break. Saying that proves Zagreb is a provincial backwater. U2 don't perform in Munich, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Marseilles, Rome and Madrid, but no self-respecting person living there wonders if there domicile is still a European city.
Enough criticism for now. I just returned from the coast. Only a two hours' drive from Zagreb you'll find another world. Palm trees, olive trees, pebble beaches, a cool breeze, rocks, blue water, fish...