First off, what is it?
Peščanik (The Sandglass) is a nongovernmental organization consisting of two members, two journalists, Svetlana Lukic and Svetlana Vukovic. The two of them have been producing a 90 minute long radio show for nine years, and they have been giving it free of charge to Radio B92 to broadcast once a week, on Friday, and rebroadcast the next day. Between 350.000 and 400.000 listeners are tuning in every week.
The two of them then transcribe the program and every three months they put out those transcripts in a form of a book. So far, 26.000 copies of those books were published. They are being sold at their production price or given out for free at public events. The books are promoted during public debates, organized by Peščanik, across Serbia (in thirty different towns and cities per year). So far 354 shows have been broadcasted, 300 of which can be heard on a DVD which is distributed in similar fashion.
Last year Peščanik set up a website www.pescanik.net where they publish political social and cultural articles by their contributors (mostly related to Euro-Atlantic integrations and controversies surrounding war crimes) . The site has an average of 5000-6000 unique visitors a day, many of whom, according to the web host, stay there for hours.
The most important pieces published on the webcite are then translated into English and mailed to international subscribers, while a wider selection, in Serbian, is transcribed and published as a separate publication called Almanac. The first issue of the Almanac comes out on Friday, January 30th 2009.
Again: all of this is done by two persons, Svetlana Lukic and Svetlana Vukovic, with a little help from few volunteers. So much for statistics.
As for the professional quality of their work, the two of them have numerous awards for their professional work:
Journalists’ Association of Serbia (1990) for best program on RTV Beograd,
“Jug Grizelj” Fund for investigative journalism (1995),
“Dusan Bogavac” Fund for ethics and courage (1995),
The “Konstantin Obradovic” Award of the Belgrade Centre for human rights (2006),
The award of the city of Belgrade for journalism (2006),
The “Press Freedom Award” of the international organization Reporters Without Borders.
The program always begins with the so-called announcement by Svetlana Lukic, which in fact is a column similar to what we would call an editorial in the print media.
In the latest, 354th show, Svetlana Lukic, as usual, commented on last week’s events. As it happened, a central figure of these events was the apparently inviolable President of Serbia. The commentator had the following to say about him:
· that he was the only one in the world not to send a congratulatory note to President-elect Obama;
· that he was isolating Serbia („raising a new Iron Curtain“);
· that in seven months since the pro-European government was formed the support of European integrations dropped 6% among Serbian citizens;
· that using his pupil and Minister of Foreign Affairs he is accusing the EU for having „special demands“ for the association of Serbia (we want to join Europe, but Europe does not want us);
· that he is usurping the authority which the Constitution does not grant him;
· that he is not doing anything for Serbia to support the European Parliament’s resolution to make July 11th a day of commemoration for victims of the genocide in Srebrenica;
· that through prominent members of his party (Micunovic) he is decieving the serbian public that the International Court of Justice had ruled that „Serbia was not guilty of genocide“.
Now, imagine this!
Because of the still unexplainable “obstructions” of a large number of transmitters during the radio broadcast on Friday January 23rd and the repeat on Saturday January 24th, this announcement, as well as the larger part of the show, could not be heard by numerous listeners in Vojvodina, Central Serbia, South Serbia and Belgrade. These transmitters belong to state televion RTS, headed by Aleksandar Tijanic, former minister of information under Milosevic, and close colaborator of Vojislav Kostunica during Kostunica’s presidency.
At the same time there was an organized hacker attack on Peščanik’s website, where this announcement are published in written form almost simultaneously with the radio broadcast. This was a DoS (Denial of Service) attack, which is a coordinated effort by a group of people to max out the complete resources of the server so its intended users cannot reach it. The DoS attack on Peščanik’s sever was perpetrated by straining the internet link through a large number of open connections with the server. This resulted in a complete inaccessibility of the server. That this was a coordinated and a well organized by a large number of individuals is proven by the fact that the server would be attacked again every time it was put back on the web.
Most attacks came from the IP addresses of two companies, SBB and Telekom. These two internet service providers keep a list of users who on this day had those IP addresses, while the hosting provider has a list of the exact time when the attacks were committed. With this data, the identities of the perpetrators can easily be determined. This is a criminal offence which is subject to public prosecution (damage to computer data and software, article 298, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code). There is a special department in the District Prosecutor’s Office for the so-called Cyber Crime. The attacks also came from locations in Croatia and Russia.
But the miracles do not end there. While Svetlana Lukic is reading her announcement in Radio B92’s studio, a battered maroon Yugo is performing a complicated maneuver (leaving skid marks on the lawn) so it can reach the needed speed and angle of impact to smash into the car that Svetlana Lukic had parked on the B92 parking lot. There are several eyewitnesses to this event, but no one wrote down the number of the registration plates. The car was hit with such a tremendous force that its front wheels went over the 10-inch curb. There is smoke coming out of Yugo’s hood, one of its tires is busted, but it manages to get away, and the police cannot find it.
All of these miracles need a strong motive, a serious and well synchronized organization, participation of a large group of individuals and a clear belief that they are guaranteed not to be punished.
The $64000 question is: who organized this? Do you have any ideas? (Some kids? Foreign agencies?)
After the Markale massacre (where the Bosniaks “killed themselves off”) it is not unusual that on different blogs and internet forums we can see comments, although scant, claiming that this was done by Peščanik’s journalists themselves. According to this theory they themselves have been jamming their signal, bringing down their own website and demolishing their own car “so they could make a name for themselves”.
Now it’s Mr. Tadic’s coalition partner, Minister of the Interior Dacic, former close aid to Milosevic, whose job it is to quickly relieve us of all the obvious (‘spiteful and malicious’) doubts as to who ordered and masterminded the whole operation.