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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

FNM

FAITH NO MORE fans will be disappointed. It is not their favourite band that is the word of this week. No, the initials stand for the normally much less thrilling National Property Fund, whose boss has found herself in the middle of the ongoing Gorilla scandal. Nonetheless, evidence, the gentle art of making enemies, and a lot of grave digging are all involved in this epic tale that came out of nowhere, but which everyone suddenly cares about so much.

FAITH NO MORE fans will be disappointed. It is not their favourite band that is the word of this week. No, the initials stand for the normally much less thrilling National Property Fund, whose boss has found herself in the middle of the ongoing Gorilla scandal. Nonetheless, evidence, the gentle art of making enemies, and a lot of grave digging are all involved in this epic tale that came out of nowhere, but which everyone suddenly cares about so much.

It is still far from certain that the Gorilla file is accurate. In fact, even its biggest fans admit there are mistakes. But let’s assume most of the document is correct. Who is to blame for all the massive corruption and the failure of the Slovak political system? The only one who’s been held responsible so far is FNM chairwoman Anna Bubeníková, who lost her job. And yes, if things happened as they are described in the alleged spy reports, her behaviour was immoral and criminal, and she is fully to blame for the decisions she made.

But she is just one of many who accepted the rules of the game, which she not only did not write, but had little chance of influencing at all. So attention moves on to the big players – the heads of the political parties, big financiers, government and law-enforcement officials. Most of them are less visible in the files, but certainly bear a bigger share of the blame.

But even their evil intentions do not provide a full answer to how all this could have happened. Going further one finds that at the core of the problem is mainly the enterprise in which Bubeníková’s office was involved – privatisation. Had the communist regime not left in “public ownership” massive amounts of property, which even decades later have still not been transferred into private hands, most of the problems described in the Gorilla file would not have existed. And those that would were caused by public procurement and tenders, which are equally liable to attract corruption.

Anyone who is convinced that the answer to today’s global financial, economic and ethical problems is more state intervention should visit Slovakia. They would have their faith no more.


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