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Press release regarding the STA situation

The Government Communication Office (UKOM) is concerned about the situation in which the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) has been placed by individual supervisors of STA and the director Bojan Veselinović. Despite calls for a new contract, with which legal financing of liabilities that STA must carry out in line with the Slovenian Press Agency Act would be ensured, Director Veselinović keeps rejecting the deal with the Government Communication Office as the representative of the founder and continues to send invoices to UKOM. Despite warnings that UKOM has no business relationship with STA as of 1 January 2021, Director Veselinović submitted the invoice for the alleged performance of public service in March to UKOM. Due to the above facts, UKOM rejected the March pay-out.

We were surprised to learn of the propaganda messages posted on the website of STA. Director Veselinović is posting on the Twitter profile of STA that he does not know whether the agency will see their 30th anniversary. Such messages are clearly aimed at taking all employees hostage, who surely cannot remain neutral with such unusual messages of their own director. We should warn that the director has used similar manoeuvres of mental torment of all employees as of last October when UKOM called on him to submit all the documents that are mandatory for the supervision of the agency and for the preparation of the annual new contract. The letter of the chairman of its SB, Mladen Terčelj, shows that STA concluded the year 2020 in a much better financial condition than 2019. In light of the fact as to how Director Veselinović engaged with the former editor-in-chief who was laid off when he was seriously ill, his current actions and attitude towards journalists are even more clear.

The decision of STA’s supervisors is even more unusual because we would think that they know the financial situation of the company well. At the session of the supervisory board on 26 April 2021, they decided to give almost the entire last year’s profit to Director Bojan Veselinović as a reward. The reward would make up two of his gross salaries. Director Veselinović never wished to disclose his salary, we can only assume, from publicly available data, that the reward is between EUR 13,000 and 16,000. Such a decision of the supervisors is very unusual in the business world, especially due to the fact that the company is 100% owned by the state.  We can assume, from the decision of the supervisory board, that the company is operating well, which puts Director Veselinović at a lie when he says that he does not know whether the company will see its 30th anniversary in about a month. If the director’s statements were true, then the decision of the supervisors is even more controversial because this could be seen as a plunder of state assets. Terčelj’s letter, which was published today at the online portal Požareport, also states that the director managed to keep all their important clients registered to STA services. As is known, Director Veselinović needed a month to send the pricelist of STA services to UKOM, which reflects his business efficiency, and then, with various manoeuvres, he did everything to prevent the conclusion of the new contract between UKOM and STA. Apparently, the chairman of the supervisory board thinks it is negligible as to how the director lost his biggest business partner this way.

It is also unusual to know that journalists were given reward merits for their work that were 53-times less than the reward for the director. If this is true, then the rumours of exploitation of journalists is true, who are given EUR 5/contribution and the director has also refused to raise the salaries of full-time employees ever since his arrival in 2009. Unfortunately, this information cannot be checked because Director Veselinović does not want to fulfil his obligations from the Contract that was signed last year between STA and UKOM. The media records also cannot be checked, namely that Director Veselinović renounced his 2020 reward. The information whether he renounced any such high rewards in the last ten years also cannot be checked. The fact that the supervisors even approved such a reward based on the current situation is, however, morally unacceptable.