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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Gibanje Svoboda party is already sharpening its knives and killing the rule of law: with a proposal in the National Assembly, they want to dismiss nine members of the RTVS Programme Council – it seems they already know in advance how the constitutional judges will decide!

By: G. B.

Proposals for resolutions on the dismissal and termination of the mandates of nine members of the programme board of Radio Television Slovenia (RTVS) have been submitted to the National Assembly. The Mandate-Election Commission is expected to consider the proposals at four regular June sessions, according to the website of the National Assembly. The coalition parliamentary groups will respond to the proposals in the afternoon.

Everything shows that the ruling coalition wants to get rid of those members of the programme council who do not suit it politically, so it is looking for legal shortcuts to get rid of them as soon as possible. Apparently, this matches the unofficial information that the Constitutional Court succumbed to the pressure of the authorities and that the withdrawal of the suspension of the new law on RTV is only a matter of time.

The proposed resolutions, which can be seen from the working materials for the meetings, envisage the dismissal and termination of nine members of the RTVS programme board, namely Slavko Kmetič, Alojzij Bogataj, Leon Oblak, Ivan Štuhec, Žiga Kušar, Alenka Gotar, Andrej Prebil, Jelka Stergel, and Rok Hodej. The Programme Council has 29 members.

The aforementioned members are accused of having voted for the illegal decision on the appointment of RTVS General Director Andrej Grah Whatmough in January 2021 and then his re-appointment in March 2022. In the proposal of the decision, the members are also accused of neglecting their duty to eliminate the illegality in dismissing the director of Television Slovenia (TVS), Natalija Gorščak, as they did not vote or propose any measure to eliminate the illegality. Among the accusations against the programme councillors is also the failure to act on the “illegal appointment of the editor-in-chief of the news programme”, since she was appointed without the consent of the programme council and the support of the workers, reports STA.

The Higher Labour and Social Court in Ljubljana ruled that the appointment of Grah Whatmough as General Director of RTVS in January 2021 was illegal. In March of last year, the programme board reappointed Grah Whatmough as general director, who, following the decision of the Constitutional Court to temporarily suspend the implementation of the amendment to the RTVS Act, is currently leading the institute as an acting director.

According to the proponents of the resolution, the RTVS programme board illegally appointed Grah Whatmough, and the latter then illegally recalled the then director of TVS Gorščak, which the programme board could have prevented if it had decided to refuse consent to the dismissal. This unlawfully interfered with the constitutional and legal autonomy of RTVS, which also includes protection against illegal interventions in the composition of its bodies. The latter is necessary for the institutional and organisational autonomy and independence of RTV, without which the constitutional right to freedom of expression cannot be realised, it is written in the draft resolutions, for which it is not clear from the website who proposed them.

Of course, it is clear that it is an attempt to influence the composition of the programme council, bypassing the laws and the constitution. Namely, there is no decision of any authority that would prove the guilt of the programme councillors listed above. It is therefore the exclusive political agenda of the ruling coalition, which wants to take over complete control over RTV Slovenia. But not only that: apparently the ruling coalition also has established control over the Constitutional Court, because they already know in advance what the decision will be. In this case, it is a complete collapse of the rule of law.

Janša: The dismissal of RTV’s programme councillors is a sufficient reason for a constitutional impeachment

If the mandate-election commission approves the proposed resolutions for the dismissal of the members of the RTVS programme board, this is a sufficient reason for a constitutional impeachment, SDS champion Janez Janša wrote on Twitter. According to him, such proposals are not a surprise, since “Prime Minister Robert Golob publicly announced that RTVS will be tackled in an illegal way”.

In the working material of the mandate-election committee of the National Assembly, there are proposals for the dismissal of nine members of the programme board of Radio Television Slovenia (RTVS), namely Slavko Kmetić, Alojzij Bogataj, Leon Oblak, Ivan Štuhec, Žiga Kušar, Alenka Gotar, Andrej Prebil, Jelka Stergel, and Rok Hodej.

From the justification of the proposals comes the accusation against the aforementioned councillors that they voted for the illegal decision on the appointment of RTVS General Director Andrej Grah Whatmough in January 2021 and then his re-appointment in March 2022. They are also accused of neglecting their duty to eliminate the illegality in the dismissal of the Director of Television Slovenia (TVS) Natalija Gorščak, as they did not vote or propose any measure to eliminate the illegality.

Janša voiced his criticism of the proposed decision on Twitter, and in one of his posts he even accused the “dark forces” of going over RTVS with a coup d’état.

Today, the coalition once again criticised Janša’s government for its attack on institutions, and the excavator of the coalition at that time, as the leader of the Levica MPs, Matej T. Vatovec, said, most obviously ran over RTVS.

Gregorčič: Members of the RTVS programme board cannot be stripped of their mandate again

The president of the programme board of Radio Television Slovenia (RTVS), Peter Gregorčič, responded to the proposed resolutions for the dismissal and termination of the mandates of nine members of the programme board by stating that the mandate of the members of the programme board had already ended on December 28th with the entry into force of the amendment to the Broadcasting Act. With that in mind, it cannot be taken away from them (again).

“There is therefore no legal basis for such a decision, and such a decision of the Mandate-Election Commission of the National Assembly will consequently be illegal. Therefore, the National Assembly wants to eliminate one illegality with another illegality, which it will blame itself by abusing its position of power,” he told STA.

In the working materials of the mandate-election commission of the National Assembly, prepared by its president Janja Sluga (Svoboda), there are proposals for the dismissal of nine members of the RTVS programme board, namely Slavko Kmetič, Alojzij Bogataj, Leon Oblak, Ivan Štuhec, Žiga Kušar, Alenka Gotar, Andreja Prebila, Jelka Stergel, and Rok Hodeja.

From the justification of the proposals comes the accusation against the aforementioned programme councillors that they voted for the illegal decision on the appointment of RTVS General Director Grah Whatmough in January 2021 and then his re-appointment in March 2022. They are also accused of neglecting their duty to eliminate illegality in the dismissal of Television Slovenia (TVS) director Natalija Gorščak, as they did not vote or propose any measure to eliminate the illegality.

The Higher Labour and Social Court in Ljubljana ruled that the appointment of Grah Whatmough as General Director of RTVS in January 2021 was illegal. In March of last year, the programme council reappointed Grah Whatmough as general director, who, following the amendment to the Act on RTVS and the decision of the Constitutional Court on the temporary suspension of the implementation of part of the amendment to the Act on RTVS, is currently running the institution as an acting director. The members of the mandate-election commission learned about the aforementioned decisions of the courts at their last meeting last week.

According to the commission’s working materials, the RTVS programme board illegally appointed Grah Whatmough, and the latter then illegally recalled the then director of TVS, Natalija Gorščak, which the programme board could have prevented if it had decided to refuse consent to the dismissal. With this, he unlawfully interfered with the constitutional and legal autonomy of RTVS, which also includes protection against illegal interventions in the composition of its bodies. The latter is necessary for the institutional and organisational autonomy and independence of RTV, without which the constitutional right to freedom of expression cannot be exercised, the draft resolutions state.

The coalition insists on dismissal

The coalition is convinced that the court’s decisions on the illegal appointment of RTVS general manager Andrej Grah Whatmough and the illegal dismissal of Television Slovenia (TVS) director Natalija Gorščak are sufficient grounds for the dismissal of nine members of RTV’s programme board. This is the only sensible move to preserve the public service, they estimate.

In the working material of the mandate-election commission of the National Assembly, prepared by its president, Janja Sluga (Svoboda), there are proposals for the dismissal of nine members of the programme board of Radio Television Slovenia (RTVS), namely Slavko Kmetič, Alojzij Bogataj, Leon Oblak, Ivan Štuhec, Žige Kušar, Alenka Gotar, Andrej Prebil, Jelka Stergel, and Rok Hodej.

From the justification of the proposals comes the accusation against the aforementioned councillors that they voted for the illegal decision on the appointment of RTVS CEO Andrej Grah Whatmough in January 2021 and then his re-appointment in March 2022. They are also accused of neglecting their duty to eliminate illegality in the dismissal of TVS director Natalija Gorščak, as they did not vote or propose any measure to remedy the illegality.

The Higher Labour and Social Court in Ljubljana ruled that the appointment of Grah Whatmough as General Director of RTVS in January 2021 was illegal. In March of last year, the programme board reappointed Grah Whatmough as general director, who, following the decision of the Constitutional Court to temporarily suspend the implementation of the amendment to the RTVS Act, is currently leading the institute as an acting director. The members of the mandate-election commission learned about the aforementioned decisions of the courts at their last meeting last week.

“The authoritative decisions of the court are clear, it was an illegal act,” stressed Borut Sajovic, head of the Svoboda parliamentary group, today. In the words of the leader of the Levica party MPs, Matej Tašner Vatovac, the coalition Gibanje Svoboda, SD and Levica assess that this is a justified reflection or decision to dismiss the programme councillors who “obviously deliberately acted against the public institution”.

The court’s decisions show that the agony of public RTV, which was once the most watched and respected central media in the country, is deepening, the leader of SD MPs Jani Prednik also assessed.

The mandate-election commission is expected to consider the proposals at four regular June sessions, according to the website of the National Assembly. When asked why the motions for dismissal will be considered in several sessions, Sajovic only replied that it is only a matter of the way of work, since it is probably not possible to discuss a large number of people in one session.

In the coalition, however, they claim that they are monitoring the current situation at RTVS with concern, which they already wanted to solve with the amendment to the law on RTVS. This was also supported by the majority of the voters at the referendum last November, but the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the implementation of the law, they recalled.

Regarding what the coalition’s further course of action will be and on the basis of which law new members of the programme board will be appointed, he said that today is not intended for them to talk about what they will do. “I will once again return to the referendum, and I want the decisions related to this story to be made as soon as possible. In the state in which we are losing public service, something must be done, and the public expects it from us,” he emphasised.

“The message of the referendum is clearly not being heard. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens are obliged to pay for something they can no longer watch, because we are being politically and ideologically violated,” said Sajovic. He estimates that “the illegal and incompetent management of RTVS, with the help and cooperation of the programme councillors, is leading a precious public institution to bankruptcy and collapse in the steps of the Greek scenario”.

At the same time, Vatovec criticised the largest opposition party, SDS, for having started a campaign against institutions two years ago, and that the “excavator of the coalition at that time” had most obviously run over RTVS. “With this, they trampled on the autonomy of the employees, the independence of the media itself, and recently, above all, they destroyed the trust that the public had in the public service,” he said.

SDS: The dismissal of the programme councillors of RTV Slovenia represents a barbaric attack on the rule of law

MP Mojca Šetinc Pašek stated at the 14th emergency session of the Mandate and Election Commission on May 10th, 2023: “Then we will probably have another session where we will have to start the process of dismissing these people, who otherwise perform after the suspension of parts of the new law on RTV only ongoing business, and with this the Constitutional Court extended their mandate indefinitely.”

As the former journalist of TV Slovenija threatened at the aforementioned meeting, the process of an illegal barbaric coup began today, when the announcement was made that the coalition parties Gibanje Svoboda, SD, and Levica propose to start the process of dismissing certain members of the programme board of RTV Slovenia. It is a move that seriously begins the foundations of the rule of law, which is even more confirmed today by the recent words of Robert Golob:

“I especially feel very frustrated because I was naïve and believed that RTV could be depoliticised in a civil and legal way. We should have first taken over RTV politically and only then begin depoliticisation. Together with civil society, we wanted to skip this phase after which Svoboda would take over RTV.”

The coalition has placed itself above the rule of law, as councillors cannot be dismissed legally in the current situation. It is a politically motivated illegal action of deliberate undermining of public RTV and a deliberate illegality in the political subordination of the institution. Dismissing programme councillors at a time when the constitutional judges suspended the implementation of the Law on Broadcasting is completely contrary to the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia and a drastic intervention in the autonomy of the public service. This is a complete abuse of power and a blatant display of Svoboda’s authoritarianism. The saying that the end justifies the means is true for them. And the goal is the complete subjugation of the public broadcaster RTV, and they will use all means, as announced by Prime Minister Golob.

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