The Patria Affair had an interesting double twist this week. On Monday Delo daily ran an article claiming that Finnish investigators led by Kaj Erik Björkvist discovered that the 21 million euros, which were allegedly used to bribe a certain “J” (thought to be then-PM and current leader of the opposition Janez Janša) actually ended up not with Janša himself but with his Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) which used this money to finance their pre-election free weekly rags which were objectively reporting the events as seen by then-rulling SDS. In fact they were agit-prop papers of the worst kind. At any rate, the article by journalist Dejan Karba even quoted Björkvist confirming the money went to SDS and that a paper trail exists to prove it. Obviously all hell broke loose.
Patria APC, codenamed “Svarun” by the Slovenian Army (photo by Leon Vidic/Delo, source)
Media went into a frenzy, SDS went apeshit, denied everything and denounced Karba while Delo newspaper and its editor stood by its journalist even after (watch this) Björkvist denied giving the interview and in the end Karba said that it was actually he who gave Björkvist the incriminating documents which he allegedly got from a source within SDS.
This is where it gets interesting. Dejan Karba was a member of a huge crowd of journalists who descended on mainstream media from various politically biased news-organisations after Janez Janša won 2004 elections and set about “balancing” the media. Only weeks ago, when Janša was questioned by Björkvist, Karba (who reportedly majored in theology) managed to get a hold of a transcript of the questioning and pointed out parts which supposedly proved that there isn’t a shred of evidence against Janša. Since there are only two sources which Karba could have obtained the document from (Janša or Björkvist) there are no prizes for guessing who gave him the file. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was a short interview with Janša next to the article about the interrogation, explaining just what we were seeing (in case the message in the article didn’t get across).
So, Karba is Janša’s man. OK, no problem. Not entirely professional, but not illegal. And certainly not the only biased journalist out there. However, how can it be that only weeks later Karba becomes the centre of SDS’ vicious attacks on “unprofessional and politically motivated journalism”. Either Karba had an epiphany (pun very much intended) or this is a neat trick gone wrong, with SDS trying to do as much damage control as possible.
But to explain, we have to refresh our memories vis-a-vis an event which politically shaped Janez Janša. Depala Vas Affair. To cut a long story short, Janez Janša (back then the immensely popular and powerful defence minister) and his inner circle tried bring the fledgling Slovenian army under their complete control by discrediting other factors in civil control over armed forces, especially the nominal commander-in-chief and Janša’s arch-enemy, then-president Milan Kučan. Janša and his people tried to achieve this by planting forged documents about a coup d’etat being planned, whereupon the president would jump the gun, be exposed as acting on forged documents and be forced to resign.
Do you see where this is going? Admittedly, the following is pure speculation. But this thing with Karba has “Depala Vas Affair” written all over it. If we suppose for a moment that Karba and Janša are still on good terms, then it is entirely possible that the the documents on SDS-ran newspapers were forged in order to discredit Björkvist and that Karba brought tried to give them to the investigator, knowing quite well that they are forgeries. It was hoped that Björkvist would jump on the opportunity and build a case on those documents, which would at some point be exposed as forgeries, causing the investigation to collapse in one master stroke. Except it didn’t work.
Björkvist denied giving a statement to Karba, who later admitted that the investigator talked to him “off the record”. The fact that Karba published it anyway and named his source can only be interpreted and complete journalistic ineptitude (not impossible) or an attempt to provoke Björkvist into making a mistake. He didn’t make one and told Karba to deliver the documents to Slovenian police. Which of course Karba did not yet do.
Again, this is pure speculation. To date there is no information on whether documents Karba tried to give to Björkvist were genuine or not. But knowing Janša’ modus operandi and the fact that the investigation is apparently rattling his cage quite hard, Karba’s actions and subsequent article bear all the hallmarks of an attempted plant and/or double-cross. As the investigation centres more and more on Janša and his immediate circle, the former PM seems to react ever more instinctively, resorting to tested tricks.
Altough it should be said that the trick did not work at Depala Vas either, because Janša’s people screwed up the plant. Indeed, the only time such a deception worked was when it was used on Janša, while he was in army prison in 1988 during the JBTZ Affair. Go figure…