Whatever the motive for leaking the highly controversial Gorilla reports on strong corruption allegations involving top politicians and financial group Penta, its timing may have been carefully calculated, as the whole dirty affair is causing rifts between politicians and parties as they load it into their pre-election guns as ammunition.
At a press briefing yesterday, interior minister Daniel Lipsic (KDH party) confirmed that the Slovak secret service SIS had indeed carried out operation Gorilla into “serious suspicions of corruption” involving a certain financial group and others in 2005 and 2006, and that it the operation was both legal and legitimate.
In response to Lipsic’s press conference, foreign minister Mikulas Dzurinda says Lipsic “has totally gone mad” and that he is “pissing in his shoes” and throwing the blame at someone else because he did nothing with the case for over a year and a half. Dzurinda was PM in 2005-2006 at the time the secret service carried out the operation codenamed Gorilla, so needless to say, most of the incriminating allegations from the reports point a finger directly at him and his SDKU party.
Lipsic confirmed that Dzurinda had been notified about the affair in 2006 already, but then in 2008 the police had shredded the file when the Anti-Corruption Office was led by Tibor Gaspar. Lipsic says this action was illegal, while also noting how Gaspar had then been promoted from a colonel to a general. Gaspar argues that the file was destroyed in line with the law.
For years the Gorilla allegations have been the subject of a total of eight investigations, all of which ended up back on the shelf collecting dust or in the bin. There is probably little chance that such a hot coal as Gorilla will produce any fire, though, because if true it would involve too many influential people and there would be too much at stake.
Are the files available on the internet the same as the real SIS files? Well, they are the same as the versions given to journalist Tom Nicholson a few years ago by the SIS officer who was involved in the operation and whose flat was supposedly used for the surveillance of meetings between the financial group and politicians. The format of the reports has also been confirmed as standard for the secret service (i.e. not written as direct transcripts, but as reports in the third person).
Due to the nature of the allegations and the ongoing investigation, Lipsic could not confirm that the whole content of the Gorilla reports on the internet were authentic, but he did add that part of it was definitely authentic. Proof of authenticity could only really come from removing the oath of secrecy from the SIS officers who were involved in the case, but this seems unlikely to happen.
The current head of secret service SIS is Karol Mitrik, whose nomination to the post in July 2010 was backed unanimously by the SDKU party, led by Dzurinda. Mitrik therefore holds the aces in his hand, but is under no legal obligation to divulge anything to do with secret service operations.
As unlikely as it is under Slovak conditions, if the real truth behind the Gorilla reports starts to unravel, Slovakia might just be heading towards another political revolution, but more black than velvet.