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The People That Were So Concerned About The State Of The Rule Of Law During The Previous Government Have Gone Silent

During the term of the previous, Janez Janša government, we witnessed concerned visits by representatives of the European Union institutions, and many media outlets and journalists who were completely unknown to the Slovenian public were interested in what was happening here. But now that the news has broken about how the former Acting Director of the Police, Boštjan Lindav, was forced to retire for testifying about the current Prime Minister’s pressure on the police, everything has gone quiet.

Investigating the state of the rule of law in Slovenia is suddenly no longer the mantra of various investigators from Brussels and journalists from various European media outlets because, apparently, the “right” people are in power. There is no other way to explain why we are now seeing completely different behaviour from those who were previously so worried.

The use of double standards has been clearly demonstrated in the case of the so-called “depoliticisation” of the public media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS). During the previous government’s term, those in power, and in particular the then-Prime Minister, were accused of carrying out attacks and exerting “undue pressure” on the work of journalists, especially those employed by the public service media. However, when the current authorities pushed through an amendment to put in place a tailor-made management at the public media outlet, even going so far as to prosecute some journalists who were unwanted by the authorities, there was no sign of the head of the European Parliament’s Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, Sophie in’ t Veld.

The Prime Minister himself admitted that it was Bobnar’s job to purge the police of Janšaists

However, if monitoring respect for the rule of law in the EU Member States was really a priority for those in Brussels who had a lot to say during the term of the previous government, the current government would also have come under their scrutiny, because it is not and cannot be normal to have a Prime Minister who publicly says the following after the high-profile interrogations of former Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar and former Acting Director-General of the Police, Boštjan Lindav: “The only truth she told was that we agreed in May, before she was appointed, that she had one task, and that was to purge the police of the Janšaists.”

“Discreditations, manipulations and lies, as well as outright professional liquidation, are the results of the campaigns that the ruling politics, with the help of obedient bureaucrats from various state bodies and in collaboration with the pro-government media, have been waging against me and the former Minister of the Interior for over a year now, and especially intensively since the testimony before the Commission of Inquiry in October 2023. It is frightening and worrying that we are being subjected to all this simply because we have, in a democratic country, drawn attention to irregularities and abuses of political power,” are the worrying words Lindav was quoted as saying by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) following the sudden announcement of his retirement.

Lindav also made it clear that even before their testimony before the National Assembly’s Commission of Inquiry for determining the potential political responsibility of holders of public office with regard to the alleged inadmissible political interference in the work of the police, there had been information that they would be “destroyed and slandered in the media for their testimony,” but that they still “said what needed to be said.” However, since he himself would not allow “the yoke of politics, bureaucrats and the media sympathetic to them, to unfairly dismiss him from the police force by means of an ‘orchestrated construct’, an untenable suspicion of wrongdoing or under threat of suspension,” he himself decided to leave. But, as he said, “the time has come for separation – but not withdrawal.”

Reports of undue pressure being exerted on the police should undoubtedly ring alarm bells, because it is not and cannot be normal for the Prime Minister in power to imagine that he can exert any pressure on a law enforcement agency. In democratic countries, the work of the latter must be independent, otherwise we cannot even talk about a country actually being a democracy. But it seems that in Europe, Russia is very fond of being accused of such practices, but when someone in Europe who is ‘ours’ follows in such footsteps, suddenly there are no more concerns.

Ž. K.

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