DÁRIUS Rusnák, the head of the Presidential Office’s public relations division, did not commit the crime of defaming a nation or race when he verbally assaulted two women for speaking Hungarian in the Prezidentka bar in Bratislava, a police investigator said. The investigator of the case moved it to the local authority which can only impose on Rusnák a €33 fine, the Sme daily reported in its June 7 issue.

The former ice-hockey player, however, still faces punishment for physically attacking two younger men who stood up in defence of the two women. The police have indicated that the attack happened as described by the victims. If found guilty, Rusnák could spend from six months to three years in prison, Sme wrote.

Meanwhile, President Ivan Gašparovič also spoke about the case, saying he will impose “adequate measures” on his employee.

The story was broken by Hungarian-language daily Új Szó, which wrote in late May that Rusnák verbally attacked two women for speaking Hungarian in the bar, after which he provoked a physical fight with two younger men who came to the women’s defence.

Rusnák used vulgar language and told the women to leave the bar unless they speak Slovak, one of the women, who wished to remain anonymous, citing fear of intimidation, later told Sme. Two younger men in Prezidentka politely warned Rusnák that his behaviour was unacceptable. Rusnák and his companion allegedly responded by attacking the young men, knocking one of them to the floor, Sme reported.

According to the police, the crime of defamation of a nation or race did not occur, because if a person used only “a phrase comprised of a nationality and a vulgar adjective”, that does not constitute such a crime. In order for Rusnák’s verbal assault to be considered such a crime, his statements would have to have been more severe and shown to stem from an attitude of long-term rejection of Hungarians. The police, however, were unable to prove that this was the case, Sme wrote.

Though the police admit that the behaviour of the attackers is not a crime, it still “shows signs of a certain misconduct”.

Meanwhile, Gašparovič said during the political talk show O 5 Minút 12 broadcast by the public-service Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) that they will certainly deal with the case, and that “it will not be pleasant”. He admitted that if he does not deal with the case, his successor certainly will.

“I think that Dárius is wise enough to understand what happened,” Gašparovič said, as quoted by RTVS, adding that Rusnák certainly knows he cannot continue working in his current function.

Source: Sme, Új Szó, RTVS

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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