Today saw the first public demonstration against the Gorilla affair, with around 3,500 demonstrators gathering at SNP Square in Bratislava to voice their discontent at the level of corruption and how politicians are running the country.
There were various speakers at the event, including Tom Nicholson, who was the first journalist to be presented the SIS secret service Gorilla reports by one of the officers involved in the operation. His attempt to have the reports investigated properly or to have something published about it met with deaf ears for almost two years, though.
The allegations and implications behind the Gorilla reports, although not yet proven and possibly never to be, have led people to stand up and demand a new political culture. They don’t distinguish between truth and proof as there has long been a general consensus that the kind of corruption that the Gorilla reports implicate has become an almost accepted part of Slovak society.
The alleged links between politicians and business groups, which in the case of Gorilla refers specifically to financial group Penta, is turning an increasing number of stomachs. As the many banners point out, it is not just about the Gorilla affair, with many mentioning other dubious cases, like the alleged parallel financing of Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party before he won the 2006 elections (illegal party funding is discussed in a recording with a voice like Fico’s, but the case never came to anything, as is often the case).
The latest demonstration shows how the atmosphere is changing at least, with people of all ages and classes voicing the same demand – out with corrupt politicians and in with a more transparent form of governance.
The protesters moved from SNP square past the Presidential Palace, where they commenced to throw bananas into the courtyard with shouts of “treason” and “resign” aimed at President Ivan Gasparovic. Gasparovic is one of those who has been involved in politics for more than 20 years, and many are convinced he does not have a clean conscience either. The latest episode being his refusal to instate the duly appointed Attorney General, Jozef Centes, because “he doesn’t have my trust”. It took Gasparovic seven months to come up with this excuse.
The final destination was parliament, though, which some are starting to refer to as “the apery”. The rising wave of discontent doesn’t look to subside any time soon, and is more likely to escalate as more and more details surrounding cases of corruption start to flood the media.
Everyone mentioned in Gorilla is essentially either avoiding direct answers or denying anything to do with it, but the can of putrid worms is now open and the infestation in full view of everyone. It now makes no difference what is truth or what is proven, as there are too many signals that the Gorilla allegations may very well be authentic, at least in part.
How the case will unfold depends a lot on political will, but with former head of the special unit of the Anti-Corruption Office, Jan Rejda, now saying he is ready to testify and that he has copies of Gorilla documents that have since been shredded, anything could happen. He has already allegedly received threats to his family. Rejda commented how people would not believe the extent of what is going on, and not just in terms of Gorilla.