What Mladina & Demokracija Are Saying This Week: Janša & DeSUS vs Money Laundering, Iran, NLB

By , 18 Jan 2020, 11:58 AM Politics
What Mladina & Demokracija Are Saying This Week: Janša & DeSUS vs Money Laundering, Iran, NLB The weeklies' respective Facebook pages

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The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 17 January 2020

Mladina: Health bill vote may be behind attempt at govt destabilisation

STA, 17 January 2020 - "It is unclear what or who causes hysteria in Slovenian politics," the left-wing weekly Mladina says as it analyses peculiar events before the congress of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and opposition Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša's latest attempt to destabilise the government.

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž accuses the media for helping create the hype around tomorrow's DeSUS congress by demanding senior DeSUS members reveal who they will support in the leadership battle between incumbent leader and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and his most serious challenger Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec.

"Is it really unusual that not all DeSUS MPs are behind Erjavec," wonders Mladina on Friday. "Since when is it normal for all MPs to have the same opinion and since when one has to say it loud and clear before a secret ballot which candidate one supports".

What is wrong if there are challengers to the party leader at a congress, Repovž says, but points to the fact that there are many "personal" parties in Slovenia which have the party leader's name in their name so it is hard to imagine them being led by anyone else.

He implies that "such a perception of democracy probably stems from at least some fascination with the only orderly party in Slovenia, namely the SDS, which does not wonder who would stand for party president even if Janša's name in nowhere to be found in the party's name".

However, it is clear that this fire is being kindled by those who would like to destabilise the government - the opposition, says Repovž, but adds there is nothing wrong what that, this is something the opposition does.

Janša's intention is clear, he wants to make coalition parties and the prime minister nervous, Repovž says in reference to his Sunday interview in which he said the government coalition was clinically dead.

But there could also be more substantive reasons to undermine the government, Repovž says, noting a bill to abolish top-up health insurance and stop further privatisation in healthcare will go into third reading at the end of January.

Neither the SDS nor the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) or DeSUS hide their connections with the health insurance lobby, which is trying to undermine the bill at all cost. This could perhaps be the reason for trying to destabilise the government before a key vote, according to Mladina.

Demokracija: Iran-NLB case comes with an inconvenience

STA, 16 January 2020 - While the investigation into the contentious transactions worth US$1 billion by a British-Iranian citizen through the NLB bank is still ongoing, the "inconvenient" thing is that the head of the National Bureau of Investigation is actually investigating himself and "protecting political godfathers", the right-wing Demokracija says in its latest commentary.

The right-leaning weekly refers to Iraj Farrokhzadeh, who is suspected of laundering Iranian money through his NLB accounts in 2009-2010 in breach of anti money-laundering legislation, while Iran was subject to international sanctions.

The commentary comes after the Specialised State Prosecution announced earlier this month it had abandoned a part of the investigation related to abuse of office by bankers at NLB.

The announcement came "at the moment when the democratic world was being appalled by Iran, when new sanctions and similar investigations of money flows from Tehran to cells around the world were being announced".

"The matter is not innocent. Farrokh, the Iranian company owned by Iraj Farrokhzadeh, laundered a billion dollars through NLB between 2008 and 2010, during the government coalition under the Social Democrats (SD) and Borut Pahor."

In the commentary Length of the Shadow of a Dollar Banknote, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak adds that there is suspicion that the money was used to purchase goods that could be used for nuclear armament.

"In other words, at the time of international sanctions against the regime in Tehran, the Slovenian state-owned bank helped Iran break through the embargo."

The investigation is still ongoing, but the "inconvenient" thing is that Darko Muženič, the head of the National Bureau of Investigation, is actually investigating himself and protect political godfathers.

Demokracija refers to Muženič serving as the head of the Office for Money Laundering Prevention when the scandal broke out in 2017.

"He apparently became the boss of the National Bureau of Investigation only to steer the investigation so that only pawns on the chessboard are (possibly) eventually found guilty," it adds.

But those who think that foreign intelligence services (US in particular) are not informed in detail about the true perpetrators and that they do not know what the modus operandi was, are so wrong.

"If nothing happens and perpetrators do not get punished, sanctions against Slovenia, formally still an ally of the US and western democracies, will not be visible and public, but they will be very painful."

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