The Wrong Side Of A Car Accident


I feel like the wrong side of a car accident. The reason is depicted above. A rather potent virus of some kind is floating around Ljubljana and I seem to have caught the bug. Not that I’m the only one. Apparently the more attractive part of Les Canadiens caught it, as did half of the Ministry of foreign affairs and the mayor of Ljubljana. Lovely…

In the mean time, things are happening on the political scene, but they’ll have to wait. Suffice it to say that we are about to enter the eye of the storm…

Switching Sides

This one is a bit old – more than a week, in fact, but it almost got lost in the humdrum of Veseli december and political events of slightly greater magnitude. But a bit of background first. Five years ago (in 2002) an enterpreneur who goes by the name of Boris Popovič ran for mayor of the port city of Koper. His running for office was largely seen as a last refuge from those pesky tax collectors with whom Popovič apparently had a love-hate relationship (they loved to hate each other). Popovič owned a number of companies (including some very popular bars/clubs) which at various times attracted attention of the tax people and other inspectorates. But most of the time he got away clean. And then he ran for mayor – and won.

Franci Matoz (left) and Boris Popovič (right)

But immediately after his victory he was arrested on tax charges and held in detention for several months (BTW, Koper prison facility rates somewhere alongside the luxury Austrian prison Michael M. wrote about some time ago). And while most of Slovenia was at first convinced that Popovič was guilty as charged, it slowly emerged that the prosecution had untold problems with bringing formal charges against the detained mayor as evidence was being repeatedly thrown out, coppers in Koper (heh, nice one!) failed to produce new evidence and Popovič’s very able lawyer Franci Matoz (recenlty named one of the top 10 lawyers in Slovenia) was able to generate enough pressure (through law provisions, media exposure and some cleverly applied demagogy) to have Popovič released. He was, afterall, detained withouth proper charges.

Popovič’s case finally went to court, although it was clear that evidence was mostly circumstantial. But as if this wasn’t enough his case came in front of the least experienced judge of Koper district court. At this point it should be noted that the system requires that the judge presiding the court distributes the incoming cases evenly, with judges taking turns in being delegated cases. It was just Popovič’s luck to have his case given to a judge with milleage the lenght of Slovene coast.

Or was it?

Twelwe days ago we learned that Bogomir Horvat, the same presiding judge of Koper district court quit his post and joined Popovič’s team of lawyers as a partner in Franci Matoz’s firm. Uncomfirmed roumors also have it that upon the delegation of Popovič’s case to the inexperienced judge Horvat started sporting a brand new Audi – but it could be just a coincidence. If you believe that sort of stuff, that is…

Oh, and Popovič was re-elected mayor in 2006. Obviously.

No Show

My head this morning…

Replying on most excellent comments to my yesterday’s post proved to be a rahter demanding task, so today’s post is not an option. Veseli december is proving to be quite demanding this year, especially if the mayor is throwing a party….

Free Media!

OK, so the title is intentionally dubious and the reason for it is the recent politically induced turmoil that has engulfed the most influential Slovene media. On the whole it can be said that this is indicative of the looming showdown which is widely expected to leave many dead and wounded (figuratively speaking) and to be down right dirty (literally speaking).


As noted in yesterday’s post, the battle of the headlines has already begun. This includes pressure on Slovene media which has never been totally free and independent. One rather curious statement was uttered by Jože Školč MP, a political veteran of the Liberal Democrats (among other posts he held the office of chairman of the Socialist Youth while the organisation was a driving force behind democratic changes, president of the parliament and minister of culture). Mr. Školč, while debating the state of Slovene media in the parliamentary committee said that “if the left [while in power] did things wrong, this is no excuse for the right to do the same“.

Which is of course correct. What is interesting, though, is that the former ruling option (broadly speaking, the political left) is at least on the surface apparently coming to terms with its deeds while in power. I say finally, because deeds of this government made the pressures exerted by previous governments look like a picnic. And this is the main problem. Instead of media becoming increasinlgy independent (I won’t utter the word untouchable, but feel free to think it), they are becoming more and more criticised for not reporting on this-or-that.

One of the more symptomatic phrases in yesterdays session of the parliamentary committee for culture (which covers media as well) was uttered by one of the coalition MPs who said that the “opposition has no proof of media control by the coalition“. Furthermore, the minister of culture, Vasko Simoniti, Ph. D. (otherwise a respected intelectual) challenged the opposition to name at least ten cases of government controlling the media (“You said ‘cases’! Plural! That’s not one or two! Plural! I want at least ten!”), etc, etc.

Obviously, if the government (and the opposition as well) would take their heads out of their asses and have a look around they would find that:

a) The Prime Minister demands a vote of confidence but picks apart a particular newspaper and journalists as a whole instead

b) A parliamentary body debates the state of media in the country

c) Politicos who look, walk and talk like they flunked the third grade of elementary school take it upon themselves to count charatcers or seconds devoted to a certain subject and not another, which favours the government (say inflation vs. GDP growth).

d) Pro-government journalists have a one-on-one with the PM (no counter-arguments allowed) or they invite journalists who criticise the government to their talk shows and they try do discredit them (contarty to the unwritten code that a journalist will never attack another journalist as long as they both do their job professionally)

After three years the media and journalists finally took a stand against continous rape by the government (with a not-so-little help of opportunist capitalists who smell a change in power), which is of course suddenly suffering from a bad case of amnesia and basically claims that time started with Danilo Slivnik and Peter Jančič being removed from Delo daily. Nothing is being said about Jančič and Slivnik (the former being a stooge for the latter, both doubling as governmental hench-men) running out half of journalists of Sobotna Priloga (Delo’s most read Saturday supplement), of recalling journalists on foreing posts home just because they didn’t report in line with government’s foreign policy (I didn’t even know we have one!), of the foreign minister boasting that if there is something not printed in the papers, he’ll have it printed (or else…), of articles being rewritten by Jančič to the extent of being unrecognisable to their original authors, etc, etc…

As I said, all of the above makes the pressures exerted by the political left (while it was in power) look like a picnic. Although their achievements are not to be diminished, either. I will refrain from ranting about how FM frequency were distributed and then re-accumulated by friends-of-friends, with the watchdog being as toothless and impotent as a 90-year-old siphylitic patient with Alhzeimer’s – I am, afterall, highly biased on that matter (which don’t mean I’m wrong, but still ;)). Instead, we can remember all the brouhaha about the government of Janez Drnovšek buying a jet plane and the not being entirely truthful (i.e.: they lied) about the price.

But what I’m afraid of is that the soul-searching the left is doing at the moment is only temporary, kind of like “I-said-I’m-sorry” attitude and that nothinh will change, even in the unlikely event of change in the political balance.

So I popose a very simple excercise, which will show whether the left is serious about their newly found love for media freedom. In case they win the election they should:

a) Change the law on RTV Slovenia, radically lowering the number of politically appointed members of both boards (to a max of, say, 25%).

b) State funds must immediately sell any and all remaining shares in all media companies they may still own. And they should sell it exclusively to journalists employed by those media companies.

c) The Law on media should be ammended, re-introducing the clause forbidding media contentration.

d) Forbid operators of future digital radio and television networks from becoming content providers as well.

A rather simple test. Failing to tackle any of these points will allow the present state of politics directly or indirectly pressuring the media to perpetuate indefinitely.

Empire Strikes Back

Slovene political arena is bustling with activity – even more so after the presidential elections. I haven’t posted a real political entry ever since the PM won the vote of confidence and – by extention – earned himself a new nickname: Calimero (I can’t help but think of this post and pat myself on the back :))

Dubbed “The Prince of Darkness” Lord Janez turns out to be Darth Janša :mrgreen:

To put it in military terms (I think), both sides of the political spectrum have tried to take the initiative in the past month. And although it may seem that Janez Janša and his government are on the run, they have very well managed to set the pace of the public debate ever since the presidential elections. But there is a catch:

Time and again we’ve seen Janša fire a full spread at seemingly at rather small targets. Time and again he advocated (and implemented) hard-line measures for goals that obviously needed a soft approach. When he came to power he went about subjugating the economy rather then winning it over. When Janša turned his sights on the media, he went about subjugating rather than winning them over (not all of them, of course, some were already strongly supportive of him). And when Janša finally seemed to have won over someone (namely the opposition for the duration of the presidency of the EU and to help him with implementing reforms) he produced a huge rise in inflation, making him as popular as a three-day-old used band-aid.

You see, the main problem this government has are its promises of a better tomorrow. But the better tomorrow missed the bus and is running late. And since today ain’t too hot either, Janez Janša decided that it is time to fire another volley – this time at the journalists, media as a whole and his allies-until-recent who have turned their backs on him (especially Laško Brewery). He accused them of actively conspiring against his government, simply by reporting about better tomorrow running late and about today being not as advertised. Which (somewhat understandably) sent most journalists and economy on the defensive. And the more they try to disprove the PM’s claims, the more they are proving them – in Janša’s eyes, at least.

And so Janša grabbed the initiative – either on his own or by proxies. The latter come in form of anal reporters (those who intensively kiss his ass), most notably Vladimir Vodušek of RTV SLO (seen here – while still at POP TV – climbing Mount Triglav with the PM and whose wife, BTW, was named ambassador to Bosnia under Janša’s tenure) who hosted a programme Vroči Stol (Hot Seat), aimed at discrediting the current Editor-In-Chief of Delo daily Janez Markeš, even though the show was suppose to deal with influences of capital on media in general.

All of this media bombardment might have even slightly forced the hand of Borut Pahor who yesterday formally announced that he will seek nomination for PM if his Social Democrats win the elections. While his announcement is not unexpected it does show that it was mostly aimed at grabbing headlines, especially since it is worthless from a legal point of view – the president of the republic formally nominates a person to the post of PM and if Social Democrats do win the election it is only natural for Pahor to get the post, whereas if they don’t win, he won’t get the job anyhow. With or without the announcement.

And so the battle continues and will continue for the better part of the next ten months…