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Zmago Jelinčič Plemeniti received €25,200 ($31,820) from Metastar Invest on July 30, 2012.
Plemeniti is the president of the nationalistic Slovenian National Party and has a long-standing relationship with Azerbaijan and President Aliyev. In 2008 it was reported he earned around $3 million selling pharmaceuticals to Azerbaijan.
In 2005, 2010 and 2013, he was part of the delegation observing Azerbaijan’s elections. The following year, the Azerbaijani State News Agency reported that he voiced doubts over an Amnesty International report on the country, stating he saw no signs of political tyranny in his many visits. He also co-signed an open letter condemning Armenia’s actions in its conflict with Azerbaijan and congratulated Aliyev on his 2013 electoral victory, saying it confirmed the people of Azerbaijan’s support of government policy.
Plemeniti told OCCRP that the payment was for translating Ukana, a war novel by Slovenian author Tone Svetlina, into Russian. Journalists at OCCRP partner Delo, however, found that the latest Russian translation recorded in Slovenia’s official online bibliographic system Cobiss.si was from 1979. Searches in Russia’s online libraries for an edition of the translation from circa 2012 also proved futile.
When asked where the book was published, Plemeniti had no answer and was adamant he didn’t care. He added he felt a kinship to Azerbaijan because his father fought alongside the Azerbaijani war hero Mehdi “Mikhailo” Huseynzade and said that he even gave Huseynzade’s machine gun to Azerbaijan’s government.
He was less forthcoming regarding the financial transaction. “It was a long time ago, I don’t remember the amount I received, nor which company wired the money,” he said. He also stated that everything was by the book, and arranged by an attorney from the Slovenian law firm FMMS.
Lawyer Peter Fašun of FMMS, who represents Plemeniti, told OCCRP partner Delo that he didn’t recall the name of the company who made the transfer either. He said the money went to a fiduciary account, a standard practice with transfers for FMMS clients. He also said that Slovenian authorities had questioned the money transfer, but an investigation found no problems.