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.