Sixteen significant public figures were decorated with state awards by President Ivan Gašparovič on January 7, marking the 21st anniversary of establishing of the sovereign Slovak Republic on January 1, 1993. The ceremony took place at the Bratislava Castle with government members, legislators, local officials and several diplomats in attendance.

Gašparovič bestowed the Order of White Double Cross of the second class to retired Colonel Imrich Gablech, 98, in recognition of his active participation in the liberation of Slovakia from fascism and his life-long effort in protecting democracy. Gablech served as an RAF pilot during World War II. The Order of the White Double Cross of the third class has been bestowed posthumously also on representative of ethnic-Slovaks in Hungary Anna Ištvánová for her activities representing Slovakia abroad.

The Ľudovít Štúr Order of the second class has been awarded to economist and banker Elena Kohútiková in recognition of her contribution to the development within the banking and financial sector, the TASR newswire wrote. The same award was given to rheumatologist Jozef Rovenský and educator František Trebuňa for their efforts in spreading the good name of Slovakia abroad. The Order was also posthumously awarded to linguist and university professor Jozef Mistrík for his research of the Slovak language.

The Ľudovít Štúr Order of the third class went to engineer and designer Anton Bezák, paralympic athlete Štefan Kopčík and head of a civic association for disabled children and youth Dagmar Kozáková.

Pribina Cross of the first class for special merit within the development of culture in Slovakia was awarded to painters Martin Činovský and Rudolf Krivoš. Author and commentator Rudolf Dobiáš was granted Pribina Cross of the second class for his life-long work in safeguarding of democracy, human rights and religious freedoms. The same award was also presented to writer Karol Horák, folk singer Anna Hulejová and actor Eva Krížiková. The Medal of the President of the Slovak Republic was awarded to educator of pupils with special needs Miroslav Kuric in recognition of his significant work in the development of education in Slovakia.

This was the last occasion for Gašparovič to make his award choices as his term wraps up later this year. The daily Sme commented that the presence of new governor of the Banská Bystrica region, right-win extremist Marian Kotleba at the ceremony reminded that he ranks among official structures with protocol duties. Gablech who fought against fascism says he does not follow much the Slovak political scene and does not know Kotleba.

“If, however, somebody doubts the fight against fascism or communism at present, I think it is sad,” he said, as quoted by Sme.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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