Robert Fico, Slovakia’s new premier and leader of the populist Smer party, has said he is suspending all communication with the country's leading liberal media.
“Since the first hours of the formation of the [new] government, TV Markiza, [dailies] DennikN, SME and web portal Aktuality.sk are not fulfilling the duty to inform the public truthfully about the activities of the public bodies, particularly of the Slovak government and its prime minister,” the press department of the Office of the Government stated.
The press statement refers to Robert Fico and concludes that "until the above-stated media start to fulfil the legal duty, the prime minister of the Slovak government suspends any communication with these”.
The statement comes days after Fico ordered reviews and suspended Office of the Government press passes to the four outlets.
Smer and its breakaway party, centre-left Hlas, formed a ruling coalition with far-right SNS and appointed a presenter at disinformation platform TV Slovan, Martina Simkovicova, a SNS nominee, to head the Ministry of Culture.
Simkovicova was joined at the cabinet by another SNS nominee, Tomas Taraba, who is known for spreading conspiracies and disinformation and who was a deputy in the previous parliament after being elected on the list of neofascist L’SNS.
Fico shared the government statement on his Facebook profile, where he also responded to the criticism directed at him from liberal media in response to his move.
DennikN’s editor-in-chief Matus Kostolny, who also faced attacks from one of Fico’s predecessors and critic, then PM Igor Matovic, recalled that Fico has not been communicating with his newspaper for several years already.
“I am convinced he [Fico] is transgressing the law as it requires him to inform all the media,” Kostolny stated, adding that now “it is not just a question of his good or bad mood, but it is a prime minister’s decision”.
Fico labelled DennikN “conspirators” who “lie” in response and shared DennikN’s corrected statement from earlier reporting on Smer’s party summit.
Fico has been frequently giving interviews to far-right and obscure websites linked to SNS and Smer party members.
Editor-in-chief of SME Beata Balogova wrote on her Facebook profile that “Robert Fico would prefer to immediately copy the media environment which Viktor Orban has for long years been creating in Hungary”.
Fico issued the statement on the same day, Monday, November 20, as students of journalism held a rally against Fico in front of the Office of the Government.
The opposition condemned Fico’s suspension of communication with leading liberal media.