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Mar 31, 2022, 04:15 AM 113 read

Ibiza affair in Austria: The naked oligarch

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The "Ibiza video" caused a scandal in Austria two years ago. Now a medium shows new pictures that are supposed to clear the accused.   "The Ibiza Gate with Irena Markovic(https://derboulevard.at/article/irena-markovic-verhinderte-sie-den-aufstieg-von-h-c-strache-2): 2 years after the mini-publication, all scenes of the Ibiza video are now with us." With these words, Richard Schmitt announces the supposed scoop. Schmitt was once the online head of the Austrian tabloid Krone, and ex-FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache considered him an outstanding journalist. Schmitt recently took over as head of the online medium Express, launched a few days ago, and immediately made headlines. Express publishes "the previously secret scenes" of the Ibiza video that brought down then Austrian Vice-Chancellor and FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache two years ago.   On May 17, 2019, Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung simultaneously published about five minutes from the video, which was secretly recorded in Ibiza in the summer of 2017. The montage showed those scenes that the journalists considered politically relevant. Strache - interpreted by his FPÖ colleague Johann Gudenus - solicits donations from an actress posing as a niece of an oligarch via party-affiliated institutes, which are to be channeled past the Court of Audit.   He recommends the purchase of the high-circulation tabloid Kronen Zeitung, where inconvenient employees would be replaced "in a jiffy. And he thinks aloud about the partial privatization of drinking water. He wishes for "a media landscape like Orbán's" in Hungary, calls journalists "the biggest whores" and utters the momentous sentence: "Novomatic pays everyone." For months, the private gambling group's possible donations to political parties and any quid pro quos have been the subject of a parliamentary investigative committee, exposing a political morality picture in which the former coalition partners ÖVP and FPÖ do not come off well.   The Ibiza video itself plays only a supporting role.   It contains more than seven hours of recordings of conversations on the terrace and in a rented villa specifically for the undercover operation. The complete recordings have now been leaked to the free newspaper Österreich and the new online medium Express. On the private channel oe24.tv, which like Österreich, belongs to media mogul Wolfgang Fellner, the video was played up and down in chunks, including images of the "oligarch" coming out of the shower naked. Every scene was analyzed with journalists and "experts." Even ex-FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache himself was allowed to have his say and saw himself vindicated because for once. He can be heard, making it clear: "Anti-Semitism doesn't go at all." As if that had been the issue.   "Falter" reacts in disgust.   In May 2019, the Viennese weekly Falter was the first Austrian medium to publish the video excerpt from Spiegel and SZ. The editor-in-chief of Falter, Florian Klenk, is now disgusted by the publications of Express. He tweeted, "Photos of the naked oligarch—the belly of the detective. In addition, an 'exclusive' classification of Strache. The Ibiza makers knew why they gave their material to the colleagues of Süddeutsche Zeitung and Spiegel. Austria's tabloids are even deeper than I thought."   Klenk himself is accused by the ÖVP blog Zur Sache of manipulating the video. It is claimed that Klenk made sure that an excerpt where Porsche is mentioned as a possible party donor was not published, allegedly out of the financial interest of the Falter. Indeed, the brother of managing director Hans Michel Piëch holds 12.51 percent of Falter shares. Klenk is presented as a "responsible co-discloser": "Did he intervene so that the name 'Porsche' was not mentioned in May 2019?" asks the ÖVP blog, without having checked the facts. Because Klenk had no influence on the video's editing, he asserts, did Porsche ever influence editorial decisions.   Express boss Richard Schmitt is likely to have a personal interest in talking down the Ibiza video. He flew out as Kronen Zeitung's page-maker in 2019 after the scandal because everyone knew that people of his ilk were meant when Heinz-Christian Strache said, "Some people have to be pushed," while others have to be "dumped." Express has Strache judging after viewing the complete video that it was "embarrassing." However, "Despite everything, the headline should have read in May 2019: 'Video proof: Strache is not corrupt.'"   Schmitt says his new medium, Exxpress, is "center-bourgeois, neither left nor right," and one that cares about Austria: "We think business-friendly." If one looks at his team, one smells the stable smell from the environment of FPÖ and ÖVP. It is also where the financiers come from nouveau riche Kurz supporters who guarantee an annual budget of 1.7 million euros via a foundation in Liechtenstein.

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