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Urbanija: “Veselinovič withered journalists with minimum wages, but he received almost 8,000 euros a month”

“The Slovenian media image is becoming a mirror image of the Russian, Putinist image, and this is scary,” said former Ukom director Uroš Urbanija. Even that minimal percentage of different media is too much for Putin and obviously too much for the political top of Golob’s Gibanje Svoboda party. In the show Kdo vam laže, Uroš Urbanija explained some of the accusations from the past and added that the government will have to start dealing with important things, such as the crisis, instead of staffing.

Uroš Urbanija, former director of the Government Communication Office (Ukom), said in the introduction that they had achieved a lot during their term, especially considering the epidemic, as they took care of communication of various government projects and promotional activities in Slovenia and abroad. The work of the office has changed almost completely in the last year, partly due to the epidemic itself and partly due to more modern communication.

Host Boris Tomašič touched on the still current issue, namely the accusation of Urbanija, saying that his mandate was marked by a period of more than 300 days of interrupted financing of the public service of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). Urbanija commented on the matter with a quote from the current director of Ukom, Dragan Barbutovski, who said that the STA was currently in the best financial condition. He added that former director Bojan Veselinovič should have established better conditions in the past instead of “withering journalists with minimum wages, while he received almost 8,000 euros a month”. Urbanija said that Veselinovič’s activities were more domestic, as he sent invoices every month, for which he did not show what this money was supposed to be spent on, and he also supposedly charged 5,000 euros more each month than it was predicted, which is why he was also called for consolidation. He did not respond to this, on the contrary, he continued to send a bill of 5,000 euros higher. “It was later found that he had a very unusual way of doing business, as the state was a bag of money for him,” Urbanija said.

“The government’s communications office can negotiate to the point where the law clearly prescribes what is allowed and what is not. When the new director came, we resolved all issues in two meetings, we agreed that the law should be followed, and there were no problems,” said Urbanija, adding that much of the blame lay with journalists who supported Veselinovič because of which he was able to mislead both the public and others.

At its 134th correspondence session on November 30th, 2020, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted information from the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Communications (Ukom) on the inability to implement Treaty no. 81/2019 on the provision of public service in 2020, concluded with the Slovenian Press Conference Ltd, Ljubljana, and the inability to conclude a public service contract in 2021. At that time, the government has supposedly adopted a decision to suspend funding for the STA, as some left-wing tycoon media wrongly reported at the time. Urbanija denied this and said that “Ukom only informed the government that STA director Bojan Veselinovič is not fulfilling his contractual obligations and that he is not sending us the documentation we requested, and consequently we do not have the tools to check the eligibility of invoice claims.”

Adherence to the Journalist Code is essential for a journalist

The next case, which Urbanija has been accused of several times, is the allegedly controversial analysis of reporting on RTV Slovenia, which the guest of the show described as clichés, and explained that after talking to journalists on RTV he found that no one understood my analysis as pressure to them: “But a journalist called me, saying that there was a mistake in her analysis. We wrote the way we did, if the opinion of the other side was missing, we wrote it because it is in line with journalistic ethics, she lacked another opinion, but she explained that she did not get the other side, which is correct.” Since the publication of these analyses, the bureaucracy has also responded to journalists much faster and more seriously, which is just one of the advantages of Ukom’s analyses. Urbanija believes that the problem is that you accuse someone of something and then do not ask them about their side of the story, thus not providing comprehensive information. The next thing, however, is the censorship of certain stories, such as “Golob’s salary and a lot of things that have evolved since then”. Tomašič agreed with this and pointed out that Tarča show had dealt with the respirator affair countless times, and everything that was related to Robert Golob remained under the rug.

Urbanija sees Golob’s announcement of the abolition of some media as a situation that is increasingly like the Russian one, both from a political and media point of view. “Slovenia’s media image is becoming a mirror image of Russian, Putin’s, and that is scary,” said the former Ukom director, adding that even the minimum percentage of different media was too much for Putin and obviously too much for the political top, now Golob’s Gibanje Svoboda.

Golob is dealing with cadres instead of the growing costliness

Tomašič wondered what it means to “gradually abolish price regulation and get used to the costliness” which was announced by Golob, as he believes that if Janez Janša had announced this, we would have heard about hungry children today, but because it is Golob, this is obviously acceptable. “Given that Golob announced a reduction in net salaries before the elections and later received as many votes as he did, you should not complain now,” added Urbanija. His predictions, given the signs of the crisis that will come in the autumn, Urbanija believes that if the new government deals with personnel, as it is doing now, “they will not get far.” He recalled the work of the previous government, which dealt a lot with the crisis and important things related to the country. All the good results were the consequence of these efforts.

Tanja Brkić

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