EDITORIAL

Scientology and short-term memory

“SCIENTOLOGY” was a buzzword in Robert Fico’s presidential campaign, which largely revolved around falsely insisting that his main rival Andrej Kiska – who in a matter of weeks will be sworn into the presidential office – was connected to the Church of Scientology.

“SCIENTOLOGY” was a buzzword in Robert Fico’s presidential campaign, which largely revolved around falsely insisting that his main rival Andrej Kiska – who in a matter of weeks will be sworn into the presidential office – was connected to the Church of Scientology.

Failed presidential candidate Fico repeatedly claimed that the Church of Scientology is a sect that is not registered in Slovakia, and which represents a security risk and “first of all has power ambitions”. To illustrate how serious of a concern it was to the state, Fico noted that in Slovakia several companies lost their security clearances because they had contacts with the sect.

But it seems that Fico has some sort of short-term memory problem (let’s call it “campaign memory”). He, for some reason, was in no rush to remove Martin Wiedermann, nominated by his own party as the general director of the Central Securities Depository (CDCP), after the Sme daily reported that Wiedermann was associated with the Church of Scientology. He also owns the company Shift, which owns several internet domains connected to Scientology, according to Sme.

While Kiska has several times denied being a Scientologist and explained how it happened that a Scientology sympathiser published his book and he once gave an interview to a magazine affiliated with the group, Wiedermann actually reported himself as being a Scientology devotee during the presidential campaign. Apparently this was no cause for concern for Fico and his Smer party, even though the CDCP gathers information about Slovak companies and manages the database of their shareholders, which is full of private and personal data.

Moreover, Sme reported that with the CDCP, firms close to the sect have been particularly successful in public tenders. This would seem like slightly more reason for concern than giving an interview to a dubious magazine.

The Scientology discourse reached its peak of absurdity when Fico saw the sign of the Church of Scientology in the name of Kiska’s former firm Triangel.

“One of your firms is called Triangel, right”, Fico asked during a presidential debate televised on TA3. “The sign of the Church of Scientology is a triangle. Mr Kiska, you are interconnected with this sect and you have not negated any of the evidence I presented.”

Fico no longer sees the triangle as a threat, which makes one wonder how serious he has been about other claims he made during the campaign, including, for example, the ones he made about fixing the ailing judiciary.

“We are losing patience with the Slovak judiciary,” said Fico amid his presidential campaign and promised reforms. He also said that “it is an objective fact that the chairman of the Supreme Court divides the judiciary”, referring to Štefan Harabin, who is now running for re-election amid protests by political ethics watchdogs. “Thus, if Mr Harabin asked me whether I would propose him to run for chairman of the Supreme Court, I would tell him not to run, that I do not recommend it to him.”

The watchdogs called on Fico to use his authority and the strength of his mandate to act in a way that frees the judiciary from Harabin’s influence.

Yet, a recent survey conducted among judges by the Focus polling agency for judiciary ethics watchdog Via Iuris suggests that only 2.6 percent of the judges polled consider the overall condition of the judiciary very good. On the contrary, more than half of the 154 judges who responded to the poll, 56.5 percent, marked the situation in the judiciary as rather bad or very bad. When asked about the specific candidates, Zuzana Ďurišová, Jana Bajánková and Štefan Harabin, only 9.7 percent of the judges said they would vote for Harabin.

The results hint that the decay in Slovakia’s judiciary isn’t only something the media and a couple of foreign diplomats made up.

Fico, who has the drive to comment on a range of issues, has not been very talkative about the state of the judiciary recently, making critics, who said that his interest in the quality of the courts was just as short-lived as his presidential campaign, appear right.

If the members of the Judicial Council fail to enact a true change at the top of the Supreme Court, then they will cause more harm to the citizens of this country the Church of Scientology ever could.

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