The spat with Tatjana Bobnar should have been a nothingburger. Instead, it is turning into a carnival of fuckupery for Slovenian prime minister Robert Golob. Following a string of tit-for-tats over the course of the last week, the interior minister tendered her resignation, which the PM promptly accepted. She will officially step down tomorrow.
Things happened after pengovsky’s last blogpost that made Bobnar’s exit inevitable. She claimed she was being sidelined for pushing back against political inference into police autonomy. Golob pushed back on that and wanted her written report on those claims. And nothing good ever came out of political partners communicating by ways of written reports.
But Golob did more than just humiliate Bobnar by making her put her complaints in writing. He also went outside the chain of command and directly asked the acting chief of police Boštjan Lindav (the one whom Bobnar tried and failed to get a full-term appointment) to write a similar report.
Which, in itself, could be construed as a form of political pressure against police autonomy. And ever the professional, Bobnar duly noted as much in her report to the PM. This, of course, made things even more awkward than they already were.
Bringing in outside people
The awkwardness level increased even more when Lindav published his report. Long story short, the whole thing started as a turf war over PM Golob’s security detail.
The police brass and Tatjana Bobnar (herself a former chief of police) were vigorously arguing that protection details should be handled by the police special directorate. This, they claimed, would streamline resources and keep a clear chain of command.
Golob and his people, however, were scared shitless over the possibility of Janša loyalists being within the earshot of the PM. They reasoned that not having total control over PM’s security detail ran the risk of information leakage, or worse.
So, they decided to bring in people from the outside. Which is when shit started flying.
According to Lindav, Golob’s hand-picked head of security (one Miloš Milović) started behaving like a real asshole. He plucked people from various other police units without informing their superiors, and bossed everyone else around. Including Lindav, which must really have added insult to injury.
If various other reports are to be believed, this Milović character ran security for Golob while he was Gen-I CEO, and was on Janez Drnovšek’s security detail before that. In between, he seems to have developed a reputation as someone whom people in power turn to when they need a problem solved.
Which may or may not be true. But of true, Milović’s success rate is mediocre at best. He reportedly failed to get Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković off the hook for a botched deal that ended with the city paying hefty damages. And he also got himself implicated and convicted in an unrelated money-laundering scheme (appeal pending). He also seems to have been moonlighting as a security advisor to health minister Danijel Bešič Loredan. The would-be head of security to PM Golob may be many things, however Mr. Wolf, he is not.
But this, apparently protracted, episode irked Bobnar to no end. She finished her report by announcing her intention to resign. To which Golob promptly announced that he intends to accept her resignation, thank you very much. And to that Bobnar added that Golob wanted her to replace the head of special protection unit (the guys normally doing the protecting) as a a way to redeem herself and prove her loyalty to him.
Bobnar obviously balked at this. Not necessarily because the people Golob wanted replaced were irreplaceable, but because he wanted it done on his say-so. Which ran in direct contravention to her intention of making cops professional again.
As a result, the Big Bird now has to headhunt for a new interior minister. He also has to defend himself against accusations of executive overreach, abuse of power and cronyism. What a clusterfuck.
Does this amount to political interference in police autonomy? Short answer, yes. Long answer, also yes, building on a distinguished tradition of politics meddling in police business since time immemorial.
But in the before times, PMs and other high-ranking officials knew a thing or two about plausible deniability. One of the first rules of politics is to insulate the top dog (or in this case, the apex aviary) from any possible fuck-ups that will inevitably happen further down the food chain.
But with re-establishing the PM’s special protection detail as a separate unit, reporting directly to the office of the prime minister, Golob will own every shit-show his security guards will come up with. Because things happen. And whoever persuaded the PM this was a good idea (or failed to convince him otherwise), should be fired on the spot. Because they are clearly either incompetent, or scheming at the expense of the PM.
That it not to say that Golob’s protection detail shouldn’t be scrutinised. Or that it shouldn’t be subject to parliamentary oversight. It clearly should be, in both cases. Not in the least because one should always be suspicious of guys with guns running around.
But is this tantamount to creating a paramilitary force at the PM’s command, as the opposition is suggesting? No, it is not. It is just an acute case of paranoia of Golob’s part. After all, if one really wanted to put together a paramilitary (and possibly extra-legal) outfit, events of the last week would be by far the most stupid way possible to go about it.
A nutritional product best served cold
To say that it is all exploding into Golob’s face would be an understatement. In fact, in a case of a revenge being a nutritional product best served cold, Marta Kos, Golob’s erstwhile presidential candidate, used this exact moment to announce she is leaving the party.
After Golob’s PR team muscled her out of the presidential race, Kos was rarely seen and even less often heard. But in a text-book exercise of political patience, she waited until the moment she could do maximum damage. That moment came yesterday.
The Big Bird will continue to feel pain over this entire saga over the next few weeks. Tthe opposition would be guilty of political malpractice if it didn’t organise at least one parliamentary investigation into this particular goatfuck. Janez Janša and his cronies will milk reports by Bobnar and Lindav for a fucking eternity. See? pengovsky told you nothing good can come out of written reports.
Outside the tent, pissing in
Robert Golob would also do well to take away a lesson or two about, you know, governing. Intimidation and demands of fealty will only go so far. Beyond that, actual politics is required.
Failing that, Golob runs a very real risk of finding out the hard way that the public opinion poll supporting Bobnar over him was not a bug but a feature. In addition, if he keeps it up with this sort of shenanigans, pengovsky wouldn’t be surprised if eventually there are a couple of departures from the Gibanje Svoboda parliamentary group as well. SD, whose low admission standards are legendary, would happily take them onboard.
Lastly, Tatjana Bobnar and her bombshell resignation are a clear demonstration of Lyndon B. Johnson’s wise words. It is always better to have people inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.