Patria Endgame Approaches

On Saturday Delo daily ran yet another in the series of articles dealing with the Patria Affair and the role Janez Janša (allegedly) played in it. Written, as per usual, by the now infamous Dejan Karba, the article exposes how Austrial lobbyist Wolfgang Riedl supposedly worked with Jože Zagožen, a senior official in Janez Janša’s SDS and how the bribes were allegedly split up among Riedl, Janša’s party, Slovene lobbyist and painter of dubious fame Jure Cekuta and Walter Wolf, a Slovene-Canadian businessman. The percentages and numbers the article runs are quite specific. In fact, they are a bit too specific.

Janša, Erjavec and Pahor. A marvelous photo by Luka Cjuha/Dnevnik

But before we go on, please, consider the following:

Item: Prime Minster Borut Pahor slightly surprisingly decided to stand by finance minister Franci Križanič even after the anti-corruption commission said that his making that call was an act of corruption

Item: Despite buckets of shit thrown at him, Karl Erjavec (himself indicted over Patria Affair, albeit for dereliction of duty) is playing ball and is being awfully nice to Križanič and Pahor and is not crying double standards, even though he was technically dismissed from office for a minor infraction.

Item: Justice minister Aleš Zalar just had a severe clash with General Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, who is widely perceived to be one of Janez Janša’s hardcore supporters as she and her group of special prosecutors killed most indictments against Janša and his collaborators, be it in the arms trafficking allegations, or the Depala Vas affair. She also ran for president on SDS ticket in 2002, losing to Janez Drnovšek in the second round.

Item: Prime Minster Borut Pahor yesterday said in no uncertain terms that Barbara Brezigar has his complete support

Item: Janez Janša is suing Delo for 1.5 million euros, because the newspaper wrote some time ago that the Patria money (at least 1.5 million euros of it) went to accounts of Janša’s SDS, who in turn financed the pre-election rags with it.

Now. Pengovsky is still deeply troubled by the nature and content of Karba’s articles. They simply don’t make sense. If Karba, a journalist with a relatively low mileage and with a distinctive right wing prefference, has access to sensitive documents, he is obviously being fed them. There is no way in hell he could have gotten hold of them by himself. Especially not repeatedly and during an ongoing investigation. The absurdity and sloppiness of Karba’s articles is also a matter of concern. Despite using unofficial sources, documents that cannot be checked for validity and quoting people who deny saying anything, Karba is continuously putting together articles with firm accusations which leave little to imagination and which are bound to attract law suits. And given the amount of conjecture in these articles, it should not be too difficult for Janša to win at least on some counts of the suit(s). Either that, or Karba has already built a watertight case against Janša, even before the police. And since the latter is probably not the case, the following question is inevitable: What if Karba is doing this on purpose? If we for a moment assume that Karba and Janša are (still) on the same team, then it is quite possible that Karba is attacking Janša knowing and indeed counting on the fact that he will win a lawsuit, thus severely damaging the credibility of the entire Patria investigation. And just as it seems that the investigation is yielding results.

Namely. It is extremely unlike Karl Erjavec not to go apeshit over a clear case of double standards. If he was officially dismissed as minister of environment for failing to set up a system of waste management, then finance minister Križanič should be immediately kicked out for trying to influence the composition of a Ph.D committee at the Faculty of Economy. PM Pahor decided not to dismiss Križanič, whereas Karl not only didn’t protest, he even supported PM’s decision. So, my guess is Pahor promised something to Erjavec in return for good behaviour. And that something might be a guaranteed mild slap on the wrist for his role in the Patria Affair. As you will remember, Erjavec was minister of defence during Janša’s government and as such the person who actually signed the contract with Patria.

Something similar might very well apply for General Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar. Minsiter of justice Aleš Zalar went right for her throat, not in the least because the prosecution went after Finnish journalist Magnus Berglund, the author of the original Finnish TV programme which sent shit hitting the fan rapidly. The whole thing was starting to become really ugly and unbecoming and then, all of a sudden, there was the PM, saying he’s got Berzigar’s back. The question is, at what price. Her outstanding liability right now is definitely her connection to Janša and SDS and it could be that Pahor got her to switch camps in return for her continuation in office.

What we’re (likely) seeing is setting up a stage for the Patria endgame, where PM Pahor is slowly but surely, one by one, taking over Janša’s support centres, quite possibly as a result of coordinated attacks on these centres by other parts of the government, whereas the PM enters the show at the last minute, playing the great saviour provided people switch allegiances. Janša is trying to fight back, mostly by trying to discredit the investigation (via feeding refutable claims to Karba for publishing), but he is also getting cornered more and more, apparently willing to sacrifice his top people in the party and, possibly, the party itsef, in order to save his own skin. The same goes for his numerous lawsuits in this affair. Apart from trying to take Delo to the cleaner’s he also filed yet another suit against Magnus Berglund which provoked outrage with the Reporters sans frontieres. The story was picked up soon even by obscurely remote media such as The Ethiopian Review (of all places! Thx Adriaan!).

This is far from over, but things will get mighty interesting come spring. It is becoming ever more clear that Janša’s call to the streets in spring time was not a coincidence (his ass might need saving yet again) as it is quite possible that it is no coincidence that minister of interior Katarina Kresal just authorised a purchase of a police-operated water cannon for crowds dispersal.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

8 thoughts on “Patria Endgame Approaches”

  1. You really couldn’t make this up! It’s an extraordinarily labyrinthine story that beggars belief.

    No doubt the next chapter will soon be with us.

    I’m rather looking forward to it.

  2. Nice stuff, greatly put together.
    But on few pints I have rather different opinion.
    1. Dejan Karba is indeed unexperienced Journalist, but my guess is that none of the older ones are willing to put their ass on the line (same goes for Dnevnik’s Rok Praprotnik)and even more important, being young and without “history” you cannot be subjected by one of Janša’s favorite discreditaion suspicion theory games-linking past or reltaives or some absurd reason as a main motive to work against Janša. Furthermore, Karba is indeed being fed pieces of evidences by the police (probably indirectly by some source on the inside) ‘cos as u see, the case against Janša will be hard to put together, mainly because the evidence won’t stand if they won’t be confirmed by witnesses, in this case group of fice WW, Dr.Z, Krkovič, Crnkovič and R.N, so in order to put pressure on them, standard police tactics around the world is to leak information through the media in order to crack them so they will rat Janša or someone else out!
    2. PM Pahor decided not to dismiss Križanič-in my view his phone-action was publicly balooned and is not a probable cause for dismissing Križanič, he has done bigger mistakes in the past and is prone to doing them in the future, but unfortunately noone from slovenian “great economists” is brave enough to take over the most exposed minisrty in current crisis (God knows PM Pahor and others went full length in searching someone else but they came up empty)
    3. “it could be that Pahor got her to switch camps in return for her continuation in office” I would love it, if u r right, but I am almost sure this coudln’t happen, Janša has a strong grip on people close to him, especially those who owe him (as in the case of B. Brezigar). My guess is, that in order to bring the case to an end, Pahor must keep BB, ‘cos public knows she is loyal to Janša, and when/if the case against Janša will be put together, BB will be in loose-loose position. She could build the case against her “God on earth janša” and thus giving credibility to the charges, or second more probable option, she will try to put the progress to the hold. And her action being rightly presented in the public will force her out and give immediate credibility to the charges!

    Otherwise, love your conclusions and really well-written article!

  3. @Geekofriendly: Thanks! There’s more where this came from 😉

    @Adriaan: Me too! But admittedly, I have the privilege of watching from the sidelines. Being in the ring is probably slightly less comfortable now 🙂

    @Trinidad: Very good point all around. I mentioned Križanič just in connection with Erjavec and the fact that the latter suddenly plays ball. But keeping BB and hoping to bring a case to trial is naive at best. And regardless of what we think about him, he is not naive. As for police leaks, normally, I would agree. But this is not just leaking, this is downright gushing of information, plus Karba is breaking basic rules of journalism in writing his articles.

  4. Pengovsky, thx for reply, I appreciate it!
    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, but I would like to stress, that I am not thinking BB will bring the case to the trial, but that she will have a really hard choice facing only two options and since she won’t give up (being bought by phaor) and bring the case to trial, she will try to hold its PROGRESSION and with good enough presentation to the public as of what she is doing, PM Pahor will have enough support to justify removal of her.
    As for leaking, I wouldn’t say is leaking in a proper meaning, but more of a deliberate feeding of information form the police side!
    As of Karba, he is young, unexperienced with not very good journalist skills, and as for citating Finnish criminalist goes, he was breaking some rules. But if u r talking about Karba’s writing about Patria and Janša articles, he is not breaking any rules as long as he holds evidences and crredible (not fantom) sources of his information. And of what I’ve seen, faximile and other original copies that paper Delo posted, were true indeed, but as construction of theory on a Karba’s part goes, he clearly states that this is assumed on his part. But evidences and facts are there for the readers to make their own opinion!
    So about conspiracy with Karba and Janša, if u have something more to support it, I would be really curious to hear it! But I can hardly imagine that Delo (its possesion by left wing people, so tendency to be antiright)would allow such scheme and support it by facing a trial with huge money penalty. It would be worth it (the money) only if it helps public create an antiJanša opinion or bring him down!!

  5. Again, good points. However, why would Pahor go to all that trouble in supporting BB, when minister Zalar could have done the dirty work for him?

    Regarding the way Karba does his work: The fact that he has relatively low mileage (in absolute terms he is not all that young) only works against him, regardless of the fact Janša cannot label him as “member of the old guard”. If you will remember, Janša never sued anyone from “the old guard”, whereas Karba just “earned” his newspaper a hefty lawsuit, regardless of how (un)founded it may be.

    I have absolutely no proof (yet) to back up my speculation about Karba and Janša actually working together rather than against each other. If the latter is the case, things cease to be logical, due to the following:

    -How come Karba is being fed documents by the police? Why him, of all people?
    -Why is it that Karba’s first few pieces on Patria were very much in support of Janša and now he supposedly switched sides
    -Karba’s conclusions are far more than just speculations. They are heavy accusations which he did not put in conditional terms. I cannot imagine that one would write such a big piece and not cover his ass
    -After JJ rammed through Delo in 2005-2007, that newspaper is not what it once was. This goes for its left-wing stance as well. At the moment Delo has bigger problems than dealing with its world outlook and I fear that they are letting Karba run free just because he attracts readers.

    At any rate, I have little to substantiate my theory with. Call it a gut feeling. There are just too many loose ends here.

  6. Love your thinking, Balances my views!
    ..why would Pahor go to all that trouble in supporting BB?’cos thats the way he works-his way of politics (The same is with RTVSlo etc..)he is center left politician and he wants to please broad mass of people (attract swing votes), while his small coalition parties are there to attack and discredit (so they collect their more leftish votes). And if he would give in Zalars way, he would give JJ a strong argument against credibility of new supreme state prosecutor and throw a shade on a whole case (the way Janša does it best!).Thatswhy it is important for Pahor for BB to stay there nad hopefully make some mistake regarding Janša’s case, that will give a reason to remove her and more importantly streghten the truth of claims against JJ.
    About Carba, you have some solid arguments.
    Janša never sued- I think V Miheljak is one of them being sued, old guard and highly respected..
    -I think Karba is used, ‘cos u would need a nobrainer and a guy u could influence (from police standpoint and from managing editor!
    -First pieces where examples of bad journalism Karba could priduce, with few evidences but no clue what they mean..
    -yes they r more than speculations and I also wonder if anyone could be that stupid not to cover his ass. But I could easier imagine that he is being covered (or manipulated by a police) or his editor than Janša. I cannot see any logic in what JJ could offer him if he is their on a “secret mission”. His journalism career would be over, while if he is working for a Delo or some other influential group, they will have more for him when this thing passes.
    -I wouldn’t know what is going on in Delo, I would just speculate, that is being used for political purposes once again and if this is true, than it would have to be something working for a left-side

    in any case, I hope that the police (under KK) is working their ass of and they will put together a case that will stand!!from my past experiences, probability of this happening are slim. But know they have the biggest chance to put JJ down and if they miss it…!

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