It seems that members of the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) coalition want to secure their dominance of the public media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS) as soon as possible. Freedom Movement MP Janja Sluga, the chairwoman of the Commission for Public Office and Elections of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, has called a session for next month, where members of the coalition plan to dismiss certain members of the Programme Council, even though the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia has temporarily suspended the implementation of parts of Golob’s amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act, while we wait for the decision on the constitutionality of the law.
When convening four regular meetings of the Commission for Public Office and Elections, the Freedom Movement MP Janja Sluga also put on the agenda the motions for resolutions on the dismissals and termination of duties of members of the RTV Slovenia Programme Council Slavko Kmetič, Alojzij Bogataj, Dr Leon Oblak, Dr Ivan Štuhec, Andrej Prebil, Žiga Kušar, Alenka Gotar, MSc, Jelka Stergel and Rok Hodej.
At the 11th regular session of the Commission for Public Office and Elections, which will take place on Thursday, the 1st of June, at 8:00 a.m., members of the Freedom Movement coalition first want to dismiss Kmetič and Bogataj. At the 12th regular session, on Thursday, the 8th of June, at 8:00 a.m., they want to dismiss Oblak and Štuhec, and at the 13th regular session, on Friday, the 16th of June, at 9:00 a.m., they want to dismiss Kušar and Gotar. Finally, on Tuesday, the 20th of June, at the 14th regular session of the Commission for Public Office and Elections, starting at 14:00 p.m., they want to dismiss Prebil, Stergeland Hodej.
It seems that members of the Freedom Movement party have started to implement the announcement of their MP Mojca Pašek Šetinc, who, at the 14th extraordinary session of the Commission for Public Office and Elections in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, called for a session at which they would replace the programme councillors of the public media outlet RTV Slovenia. She said: “… We will have to start the procedures for dismissing these people, who are only taking care of the day-to-day business after the suspension of parts of the RTV Act, and who have thus had their mandate indefinitely extended by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia.”
However, since it is a fact that the existing councillors hold their positions in the bodies until the court decides otherwise in relation to the amendment, they have gone into bizarre proposals to dismiss the members of the RTV Programme Council. They are accusing them of voting in favour of the appointment of the current Director-General of RTVS, Andrej Grah Whatmough, who also later contributed to the dismissal of Natalija Gorščak, who held the post of Director of the RTVS television station. For example, in the case of the dismissal of Kmetič, the text reads: “Slavko Kmetič, as a member of the Programme Council, voted for the illegal decision to appoint the Director-General on the 25th of January 2021 and for his reappointment on the 17th of March 2022. He also abandoned his duties to remedy the illegality of the dismissal of the Director of Television, as he did not vote or propose any measure to remedy the illegality, and he was unjustifiably absent from the Council meeting on the 30th of August 2021, where the decision to approve her dismissal was taken. Nor did he propose any remedial action in relation to the appointment of the editor-in-chief of the news programme.” They also pointed out that “it has been established in court proceedings that the Programme Council unlawfully appointed the Director-General of RTVS, who then unlawfully dismissed the Director of Television Slovenia, which the Programme Council could have prevented if it had decided to refuse to consent to her dismissal.”
“The motion for dismissal goes on to state that the unlawful interference in the composition of the RTVS bodies constitutes interference in the independent and autonomous functioning of RTVS, which is a constitutionally protected value under Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. The premature termination of the service of a member of the RTVS Programme Council who has not acted in accordance with his legal duties is, therefore, a necessary measure to prevent such interference in the future and to at least partially mitigate the damage that has already occurred,” reads, among other things, the explanatory memorandum explaining why the dismissal is necessary. The fact that the rulers really care very little about the independence and autonomy of the public institute in question is undoubtedly demonstrated by the series of proposals for the dismissal of programme councillors who are not to their liking. They want to secure a majority so that RTVS can finally be politicised, but it seems that they do not even have the decency to wait for a decision from the country’s highest court.
Gregorčič: members of the RTV Slovenia Programme Council cannot be stripped of their mandate again
The President of the Programme Council of RTV Slovenia, Peter Gregorčič, responded to the proposed decisions to dismiss and terminate the mandates of nine members of the Programme Council by stating that the mandate of the members of the Programme Council had already expired on the 28th of December with the amendment to the RTV Act coming into force. In view of this, it is not possible to (re)take their mandates away, he believes.
“Therefore, there is no legal basis for such a decision, and such a decision by the Commission for Public Office and Elections of the National Assembly will consequently be illegal. The National Assembly apparently wants to eliminate one illegality with another illegality, which it will perpetrate itself by abusing its position of power,” he stated.