Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico decided on Monday to suspend “all communication” with TV Markíza, Denník N, SME and Aktuality for failing to provide “truthful, timely and comprehensive” reporting – a move that Denník N Editor-in-Chief Matúš Kostolný says violates the obligation of public officials to inform the media.
Fico’s decision is the latest step in an escalating battle with the media. Fico’s previous decision banning the same media from entering government offices has attracted the ire of nine Slovak MEPs who have requested EU Commissioner Věra Jourová to review Fico’s actions.
“Not much changes for us. Fico hasn’t responded to Denník N for years. However, What has changed is that the prime minister declared this as his official position,” said Kostolný.
According to Kostolný, this means Fico has backed down from earlier plans to ban media from government buildings.
Fico has already received backlash for his latest announcements.
If Fico “tries to put his statements into practice in a way that violates the right to information”, Progressive Slovakia MP and vice-chair of the parliamentary media committee, Zora Jaurová, said she is prepared to initiate a committee meeting to question him.
Fico’s announcement was also followed by the organisation of a student protest in front of the government office – a move Smer leader Ľuboš Blaha criticised while shunning the affected media, such as TV Markíza, for their “rainbow, Russophobic and anti-left propaganda”.
But another of the government’s anti-media policies, aimed at ending the common practice of “catching” politicians in corridors, is also taking shape in parliament.
Under the proposed law, pushed by Speaker Peter Pellegrini, media would be restricted in its ability to stream or record audio and video in the parliament’s press room and library.
Pellegrini’s move, prompted by a dispute between two MPs, has already been criticised by opposition politician Ondrej Dostál of the SaS party.
“The restriction contained in the decision in question effectively prevents the work of journalists in the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic,” writes Dostál, calling on Pellegrini to scrap the decision altogether.
(Barbara Zmušková | Euractiv.sk)
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