The Slovenia Times

Freesheets Part SDS Election Campaign


The head of the commission Melita Župevc said that the conclusions were based on more than a thousand pages of documents, which were also obtained from the Tax Administration, police, and the Office for Money Laundering Prevention.

"The commission is proposing to parliament that it finds among other things that the two freeshets were founded and published with the intention of influencing the 2008 general election by disqualifying political rivals, benefiting the ruling SDS and concealing election propaganda, campaigning and contentions financing."

The MP of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) added that existing legislation was ineffective in preventing such anomalies, which is why the government should draw up necessary changes.

The commission did not find evidence to support claims that the freeshets were financed with alleged bribe money from the defence deal with Finnish contractor Patria, Zupevc added.

Tadej Slapnik of the former coalition Zares labelled the two papers - Slovenski tednik and Ekspres - the SDS's "Trojan horses".

He pointed out that the SDS's leading officials, including the then PM Janez Jansa, Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti and Public Administration Minister Gregor Virant, failed to act against state-owned companies that helped the papers with paid adds.

Thus the commission feels that "they are politically responsible, as holders of public offices, for not acting and thereby enabling direct benefits for their political party and themselves, since they all ran in the election".

While not disclosing any details from the confidential documents that led it to its conclusions, the commission stressed that the two publishers of the freesheets ended 2008 EUR 1.5m in the red.

The two companies were "enabled, through so called friendly loans that were never returned, to obtain loans estimated at a total of EUR 1.5m, all of which was spent on publishing the freesheets".

The report presented marks the end of the parliamentary probe, which was launched in March 2010 at the demand of 45 MPs from the left-leaning coalition.

The interviews carried out by the commission revealed opaque financing of the freesheets and questionable business practices of state-owned companies, in particular postal operator Posta Slovenije.

One of the most unusual findings was that the company which published Slovenski tednik, Progresija, was signed over to a homeless ex-convict after it stopped publishing the paper.

The SDS meanwhile again rejected today any involvement in Slovenski tednik and Ekspres, with MP Branko Grims calling the investigation a farce.

He noted that although the key purpose of parliamentary investigations was establishing political responsibility of public office holders, the commission had failed to interview a single official.

Grims also pointed to the explanation of Posta Slovenije head Ales Hauc that the discount provided to the freesheets by the state-owned postal operator had even been lower than the customary discounts for mass media.


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