What a mistake, made by Slak on POP TV: the owner of a villa worth 40 million euros, with a company based in the tax-advantageous Cyprus, comments on the Government’s measures

Sandi Češko (Foto: STA)

On Wednesday’s show Kdo vam laže? (Who is lying to you?), the host Boris Tomašič prepared a set of interesting topics that he and the journalist Luka Svetina commented on. Svetina is one of those journalists who are still constantly on the filed, even during the epidemic and he continues to risk his health just to keep the people informed. However, he has also received some criticism from someone who has done nothing else but roam the world at our expense, eat and drink at various celebrations, and bow down before various presidents of sports associations. This man is Ivo Milovanovič, and at the end of the show, Luka responded to the allegations that he is unprofessional in his work. “If there is anyone who is never unprofessional, it is Luka Svetina,” Tomašič concluded.

It is becoming blatantly obvious that various “coronavirus” experts are starting to crawl out of every possible hole, everyone knows everything, and everyone also claims that they have known everything all along. The previous Government, which is now in the opposition, claims that they have done everything right and are attacking the current Government, despite the fact that they are making major changes. However, a video clip has started to circulate on social networks, showing what Marjan Šarec really said when he was the Prime Minister and what he is saying now, and it also includes Nina Pirnat, showing what she said and how she actually acted when she was still the Director of the National Institute of Public Health (Nacionalni inštitut za javno zdravje – NIJZ).

In this clip, you can see one of the journalists from the national media outlet ask Šarec how serious is the situation, in his estimation, but instead of answering the question, he congratulated the journalist and all women on Women’s Day (the show was broadcast on March 8th, 2020), and then continues: “As the experts say, as the Director of NIJZ Nina Pirnat said: an epidemic happens when one infected person is in contact with many other people.” We can see a clip from March 2nd, 2020, on which Nina Pirnat can be heard saying: “We need to ask ourselves, why would we close the schools and kindergartens, where there are no cases of infection?” She also claims that we are far from an epidemic. Only a few days later, on March 12th, 2020, the TV host Rosvita Pesek asked Šarec why he had not ordered the children to stay at home the next day already, and why the schools would only close on Monday, to which Šarec responded: “We are not the only ones dealing with this. Austria, for example, will also close certain institutions on Monday.” What is even more worrying is the fact that on March 12th, the epidemic had already been declared, which the host Pesek made clear in her opening remarks. She also asked Šarec why his Government had not implemented any measures that would have helped regulate those returning from Italy, given that our western neighbor was already the epicenter of the infection at the time. “That is why we adopted the regulation that allows us to order the trucks at the border to turn back around.” The clip ends with Šarec’s words: “To hide the virus seems twisted.” You can watch the clip in the Kdo vam laže? show:

The host of the show Boris Tomašič reminded everyone of when the virus came to our neighbouring countries and to our country as well, and how Nova24TV constantly warned that there was a real danger of a serious epidemic that would cause people to die, we even stated that the “deadly pandemic” is coming, but many people just made fun of it, including Marjan Šarec. Nowadays, nobody is making fun of us anymore, as they have all switched to talking about how they knew everything all along and how those of us who work on the Kdo vam laže? (Who is lying to you?) show are attacking the experts, and how dare we attack the former NIJZ Director Nina Pirnat. “We dare attack her because we can all see and hear today, that what she said was total nonsense,” Tomašič explained.

The former Government was forced to change its opinion overnight because they had no other choice anymore
The investigative journalist Luka Svetina was a journalist on the field, even before the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus were implemented. Is it true, that everyone knew everything and acted correctly, or are they deliberately forgetting what has happened, Tomašič asked Svetina. “Everyone was, at least in part, surprised by the coronavirus crisis. That is certain. We first saw what was happening in China and then in the Philippines, but the problem is that we could also see what was going on in neighboring Italy, where the crisis had escalated in late February, and in the first week of March, the number of infections went through the roof, and the number of deaths had started to double from one day to the next. The Government that was led by Marjan Šarec, while still running the current operations, could already see what was happening in our neighbouring country. The changes in their statements that happened over the course of only ten days, have shown how they were forced to change their opinion practically overnight, as they had no choice anymore.” Svetina also noted that other employees were already in disagreement with the former Director of NIJZ, Nina Pirnat, who was politically installed there. “The fact that Nina Pirnat was saying something that a large part of the NIJZ employees did not agree with at the time is a problem in itself.”

Tomašič recalled that the 25 signatories from the institute, which has 470 employees in total, have accused the institute of restricting their freedom of expression, as they are not allowed to say what they think. Dr. Krek said it was the other way around – that the institute’s leadership was not allowing the experts from the institute to comment on the matter in public.”

24ur, led by Češek, attacked the Government’s measures
On Tuesday, the guest on 24ur show was an economist, who stated that the Government does not want to accept 6 million masks that are supposedly just waiting to be picked up in China. On the “Who is lying to you?” show, you can see a luxury villa in Florida, worth 40 million euros, owned by the same economist, who supposedly arranged for the 6 million masks in China, which the Government does not want. But Tomašič revealed the following: “This same gentleman deserved all of this money by selling – the elderly will remember this – Kosmodisk, a miraculous remedy for back pain. Janez Kocijančič, his mentor, enabled him to exclusively promote this product, along with many others, on RTV Slovenia, for very little money. And after becoming rich, this same gentleman moved his company’s headquarters to Cyprus, where he now pays his taxes so that he does not have to pay them in Slovenia, even though he is very socially sensitive. I am talking, of course, about Mr. Sandi Češko.” The host of the “Who is lying to you?” show then played a short presentation clip about Češko, from the previous elections. In it, we can see Češko reveal that he would vote for the Social Democrats in Sunday’s election.

“Mr. Češko is a Social democrat. I do not know if he is also a member, but he obviously publicly supports the social democracy, which is not a problem, as he can support any party he’d like, but it seems controversial for him to act like he is an independent expert on the evening news, even though he is obviously on the opposition’s side and just wants to criticize the Government,” Tomašič said.

On the 24ur show, the host Uroš Slak complimented Češko on his important business connections in Asia, China, adding “You also offered to help the Government in its procurement of the masks, and now you are saying that after the news about the scandal connected to the mask supply started to emerge, it blew your lid off,” to which Češko replied, that this did indeed blow his lid off, “just like it did to any other ordinary citizen. However, what I was surprised to see is how many different importers are now dealing with medical equipment. Importers and intermediaries who are not qualified for this at all. And as I have mentioned before, these are specific products that, if not genuine and certified, can also be dangerous. I do not understand why the Government resorts to these intermediaries when it has direct contact through other people.” Slak was then further interested in the story of 6 million masks in China, which are just waiting for the confirmation of the Slovenian Government. “It seems as though the Government does not want to import equipment without intermediaries, even though it has a few state-owned companies available, that could do this, for example, but they still prefer to do business with companies that do not have the necessary experience in this field, and will, naturally, charge a commission for their services, which the state-owned companies would not do, if the Government had ordered them to work on the issue instead.” Tomašič wondered which state-owned companies are actually qualified for the import of this equipment and which would have waived the commission. “I do not know. Mr. Slak would have probably named them if he knew which they were. But regarding the statement that this equipment is always brought through intermediaries… Well, this is not a self-service store; you cannot simply go to China, take the goods, and bring them back home. You could also get bad equipment, which is something that Mr. Češko mentioned, and there is also the logistical problem, so it is really not that simple.”

Tomašič was also interested in why we are faced with the problem of Šarec’s Government leaving behind empty warehouses for protective equipment, if they are so easily obtained, as some claim, to which Svetina replied: “The gentleman’s problem is that if he presents a businessman in China to the Government, he may be of suspicious origin, we do not know. The Government cannot shop directly in China, it is necessary to do business with certain already-established companies, but this is also a big logistical problem. We know that DHL themselves have responded to our question by stating that they are trying to make all deliveries from abroad a priority, that they are trying to bring the equipment to Slovenia and deliver it as soon as possible, but that there is simply not enough room. It is virtually impossible to purchase additional capacities at the moment when the whole world is on lockdown, as far as air traffic is concerned.”

Janša’s Government has filled the warehouses with protective equipment
However, it is a fact that the lack of protective equipment is no longer a critical problem, with protective equipment supply increasing, as well as the number of masks. “So the Government has done a lot, after all. The fact that someone does not want the masks from China, which are just waiting there, for us to come and take them, is no longer our biggest problem,” Tomašič pointed out. “The Government has some leeway to determine which company can be trusted and can deliver a new shipment of medical equipment. Janez Janša visited the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana (UKC) last Sunday, to see what the situation there is like. The situation is under control, as the Director of UKC, Poklukar said, and the other healthcare facilities also have the necessary equipment, so the Government could already start distributing the equipment to other institutions that desperately need it, first and foremost, to the nursing homes.”

Tomašič revealed that there had been many phone calls, offering masks, as many as we want, even millions, “there is just one problem: they cannot deliver them to Slovenia, you have to go to China by yourself to get them. That is practically the same as not doing anything.”

The host of the show reminded everyone that Mr. Češko has a large distribution company, with a sales network all over Eastern Europe, but what bothered Tomašič was that on 24ur, Češko was only presented as an ordinary citizen. Svetina found it interesting that Češko was described as “extremely socially sensitive during this time, but on the other hand, we know that he does not pay taxes in Slovenia, as his company is based in Cyprus, which is, for example, very ambiguous.” In a situation like this, he can hardly be one to moralize, Tomašič agreed. “Everyone has the right to be rich and have a villa in Florida. Hats off to you if you can earn 60 million, but of course it is not the most appropriate thing, if you got to this amount of money, of course legally, but with very good connections, good uncles, and then you criticize everyone and everything.”

Češko is convinced that we should take France as an example – but the epidemic there is just starting
Furthermore, Tomašič mentioned how Slak and Češko had discredited the Government, with the intention of forgetting all about the previous Government, which left behind empty warehouses. “The actions of the Government were not good. How did they comment on that?” Tomašič wondered. He then rolled a clip, in which we can see Češko saying that it initially looked “very good, all of the Government’s predictions. But it seems like everything got a bit too complicated when it came to the realization. The Government is clearly unaware of the urgency of the situation. We are now creating conditions, like the 20% drop in traffic. This is completely arbitrary; it is just a measure. But what does that mean? It means that someone whose income has dropped for 19 percent is not qualified, and someone whose income has dropped for 20 percent, is qualified. Sorry, but economically speaking, this makes no sense.” Slak also asked Češko what the Government should pay most attention to when regulating an exceptionally large set of measures during the coronavirus epidemic. Češko believes that we should take the French Government as an example, especially “when it was faced with challenges such as the yellow vests movement.” Tomašič could not believe Češko’s response: “So Mr. Češko would like our Government to respond similarly to how Macron’s Government responded when faced with the yellow vests movement? Police on the streets, batons, water cannons?”

With this edition of the 24ur show, it must be pointed out that Slak remained silent on Češko’s political orientation, as he is by no means an independent businessman. This is a man who is closely related to the SD party. “You cannot present such a person as an independent expert who acts neutral. We can clearly see that he can not act neutral,” Svetina stated.

Tomašič did not like Češko’s statement, claiming that the Government got off to a good start, but then there was no realization because the Government is not aware of the gravity of the situation. “If there is a Government that is aware of the gravity of the situation, it is this one. Remember, on March 13th, when this Government was sworn in, they immediately sat down and got to work. They have had sessions on a daily basis, organized the crisis staff … Comparing this to what we had before, that is, the day before and the day after, it is like day and night, but Mr. Češko dares to say that the Government is not aware of the gravity of the situation,” Tomašič said. Svetina added that the statement is very ambiguous and also two-faced, “because part of the opposition continues to criticize the Government for implementing measures that are too strict, claiming that they should be lifted as soon as possible. Today, I saw a post on Twitter, made by the former State Secretary for National Security Damir Črnčec, that we should follow Austria’s example and slowly start lifting the measures, but on the other hand, there have been complaints from the relatively similar political option, that his Government has not taken the situation seriously enough. It seems as if the Government has been in power for a few months now, but let’s not forget that not even a month has passed yet, and enormous work has already been done. Lucky for us, this is also evident in the slow of rising of the number of infections and fatalities in Slovenia.”

The host of the show believes that the opposition is panicking because 85 percent of the people support the Government’s measures, “and now they are trying to discredit the Government in every possible way.” He also commented on Češko’s statement that a 20 percent drop in turnover is an arbitrary criterion: “No, Mr. Češko, this is not an arbitrary criterion, it is a very concrete criterion. Twenty percent is a very specific criterion. It would be arbitrary for an official to decide on a case-to-case basis, whether to grant the help to someone or not.”

We are all equally at risk, so there is really no need for divisiveness during this time
Further, there was talk of RTV Slovenia, which should never allow itself to be biased. “National television must be objective, as everyone is paying for it. And since I was revealing their lies and deceptions, our television deserved its own special treatment on Val 202, where Marko Radmilovič is reporting from a swamp.” In the introduction, Radmilovič said that “we have been eagerly waiting to see in which direction the novel coronavirus would lead the traditionally divided Slovenians.” Tomašič explained Radmilovič’s statement, who is apparently already convinced that Slovenians need to be divided on every issue. “Unfortunately, we are facing an invisible enemy in the current situation, an enemy that does not choose, whether you are left-wing, right-wing, SD, LMŠ, SDS: we are all equally at risk. To me, this seems like a very unnecessary push toward a division that is really not needed at this time.” Svetina is convinced that we should wait until the coronavirus crisis is over, “and once life returns to its old tracks, we can go back to acting that way.”

We then hear Radmilovič say that this is not uncommon for this television “if the list of those who they have offended would not include the President of the World Health Organization, the former Director of the National Institute of Public Health, and a few other prominent doctors and scientists, who were also offended. Although the modern-times media have long since lost all deliberation, which, until recently, distinguished bar talk from that which is publicly interpreted, it has stayed true, until recently, that certain individuals should not be offended. For example, the World Health Organization is near the top of that list.” In particular, Tomašič was bothered by the fact that there are institutions that seem to be untouchable: “It is not proper to speak ill of the World Health Organization, despite the fact that we already know that they have made a major professional mistake, that has serious consequences. And it is also not okay to say anything bad about Mrs. Pirnat, who has also made not one, but many professional mistakes, which is pretty evident nowadays. But this should not be done, because these are untouchable institutions.” Tomašič then wondered if, as a journalist, you should just agree to not criticize someone, who is “a deity.”

Svetina said that “the journalistic profession is in itself one that must be critical. Every journalist is inclined in his beliefs, but it is also the journalist’s job to observe what is happening, to comment on it, and to attempt to process this information critically. And as far as criticizing the World Health Organization is concerned: it is not difficult to criticize an organization that changes its opinion from one day to the next. After all, the experts are divided among themselves. Dr. Krek said that they are welcome to have different opinions, but the problem occurs when only some of the experts are allowed to speak their mind, and the others are not.” Tomašič reminded Radmilovič that facts are not an insult. Radmilovič also wanted forcefully divide people into “young-masks” and “old-masks,” but Tomašič was very clear: “Do not divide people into “young-masks” and “old-masks,” but rather to those who understand and those who don’t. I am very sorry that you stayed on the side of those who do not understand.”

Ivo Milovanovič attacked the journalist Svetina on a personal level
At the end of the show, Svetina and Tomašič also commented on the interview with Aleksander Čeferin that was published in Ekipa (Team) magazine. Many people responded to it, including Svetina, who wrote a tweet, in which he summarized the writings of foreign newspapers, claiming that the football match was the focal point of the epidemic. Svetina wondered if Čeferin’s UEFA could have prevented it, and if they could have, why did they not prevent it? Former sports journalist Ivo Milovanovič responses to this, viciously attacking Svetina in his column. Milovanovič was always very fond of the authorities, including Zoran Janković, and many people have mocked him already, wondering how is it possible that after so many years of commenting, he still has no knowledge about handball. This is the man that attacked Svetina, stating that he has no right to write nonsense and blame people for something they were not guilty of. “Mr. Milovanovič, where do you get the right to write nonsense? You deny it to others, but allow yourself to do it in an entire pamphlet?” Tomšič wondered.

Svetina commented on Miloanovič’s statement about him, stating that sports and political journalist do not work well together, by writing: “I believe that I what I read in Ekipa is not a column, but rather a personal attack on me, I also think I know who is behind it and why, because many people were bothered by the fact that besides being a sports journalist, I have also been dealing with domestic politics on Nova24TV in the last three years. I stand behind what I do.”

Svetina remembered that, among other things, he found a quote from Čeferin, from one of his interviews, stating that “in my humble and non-expert opinion, I believe that this is an excessive measure.” Čeferin was referring to the prohibition of movement outside the municipality of permanent or temporary residence. Judging by his statement, he found this measure to be pointless, and in the second part of the interview, he mostly talked about the morbid faces of some of the politicians, and that there is no positive tone and people are constantly being scared. “I often go to press conferences, unlike many journalists that don’t show up but just e-mail the questions to the studio at RTV Slovenia, where we can talk to the Government speaker Jelko Kacin directly. I can say that almost every time so far, I have heard encouraging words, asking the people to just endure these measures for one or two more weeks, and stating that the matters will soon normalize. The people are also commended for respecting the Government measures.”

“This tweet clearly shows that I did not blame Aleksander Čeferin for the outbreak of Covid-19 in Italy. This match was played in the middle of February. The Independent wonders if this match could have been prevented from happening if UEFA had reacted. No, no one knew at the time that the matter would escalate to such a degree. The problem is that no one has learned anything from it. There was also a rematch that was played before an empty stadium in Valencia. But I want to point out that Kike Mateu, the journalist who is based in Valencia and also reports on the main Spanish evening football show, was patient zero in Valencia. He got infected at this match. He claims that UEFA already knew about the gravity of the situation in Italy at the time, but somehow did not allow itself to suspend this match. It was dangerous, as the Italian footballers were already coming to Spain. Ultimately, what the real question of my tweet is, is why did UEFA not react on March 11th already, when the matches were still played in front of a full stadium. A pandemic was declared that day, and in the evening, a match was still played in front of a full stadium, and the next day after the pandemic was declared the same happened in the Europa League in Glasgow, as well as in Istanbul, and the others were played in front of empty stands because that was the decision of the clubs themselves,” Svetina said.

Čeferin’s stance was distinctly political
Svetina reminded everyone that Čeferin took a pronounced political stance in his interview and criticized the Government’s measures, even though the rule is that football does not interfere with politics and vice versa. “He spoke the work of the current Government as some kind of a moral authority, which made his interview distinctly political. As a journalist who deals with both sports and politics, when I am covering sports, I only cover sports, and when I am covering politics, I only deal with politics. On my Twitter profile, I expressed my opinion,” Svetina said, to which Tomašič added, that with this, he had earned the wrath of Ivo Milovanovič. Svetina also recalled that the problem of these matches was that the number of infected was increasing after the matches, which was also reported by the Independent and the Guardian. “In short, Čeferin talked about the measures being too strict and the politicians being too pessimistic, but I wanted to point out that these harsh measures and perhaps even the “pessimism” of the Government when thinking about what might happen if they do not act harshly, contributed to the fact that Slovenia has not yet faced a scenario that some other European countries have,” Svetina said, adding that Milovanovič’s attacks will not stop him “from thinking, because I have the right of free speech.”

You can see what else Svetina and Tomašič revealed and how viciously Milanovič attacked Svetina on a personal level, proving to everyone that Milanovič could never be a respected journalist, in the enclosed video of the “Who is lying to you?” show in the first half of the article. All in all, this is a very good example of how the deep state reacts when you disturb it. “Mr. Milanovič did not respond – but not because it would affect him, but because he benefits from it,” Tomašič concluded.

Barbara Majdič