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YLE Claims Stir Political Storm In Slovenia

A report by the YLE investigative current affairs television programme MOT has caused a political storm in Slovenia. According to the programme aired on Monday, the Finnish defence material manufacturer Patria paid bribes to the Slovenian Prime Minister in exchange for orders. According to MOT, Patria paid a total of EUR 21 million in bribes indirectly to Slovenian Defence Ministry officials and to the Prime Minister, in return for hundreds of millions in orders for the Slovenian military. In Slovenia, where preparations are under way for parliamentary elections, the claims made by the YLE programme have been denied by Prime Minister Janez Jansa. He called the bribery claims a lie and an attempt to blacken his reputation before the elections. Also in Slovenia, counter-claims have been that the YLE programme was intended to help the political opposition in the upcoming vote. Prime Minister Jansa also demanded an apology from YLE on Tuesday and pointed out that a decision on the purchases in question was made during the time of the previous government in Slovenia. The producer of the MOT programme, Matti Virtanen, says that he stands behind the report. YLE has also officially responded to the request saying the report was based on several reliable sources. "We have no reason to change anything. We trust our sources which were several different ones who all confirmed the basic message of the programme. In order to protect these sources, we will not engage in any speculation of who they were," stated Virtanen. The State of Finland owns 73% of Patria. Finland's National Bureau of Investigation is carrying out an investigation into Patria's dealings with Slovenia. Read the full MOT transcript in English.

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