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Lashing out against press, Mečiar fires both spokeswomen
No inhibitions. Having been dismissed, Magda Pospíšilová (shown with Pavol Kanis, a deputy for the opposition SDĽ) was free to kiss any opposition politician she wanted. Peter Brenkus
18 Dec 1997 Jana Dorotková
"Due to the very low cultural level of some Slovak journalists and a low professional response in some media, I... am canceling press conferences following government sessions," read Mečiar's announcement, which was carried by TASR.
The next day, all major Slovak dailies except the pro-government Slovenská Republika denounced the ban as "disrespectful towards citizens," and "mindless revenge."
Adding insult to injury, Magda Pospíšilová, Mečiar's spokeswoman, and Ľudmila Buláková, the government spokeswoman, were both put out of a job effective December 5. Both spokespersons refused to comment on their dismissals in any way.
But journalists believe that Mečiar's moves were made in retaliation to the media's relentless questioning, at the latest press conference, of the status of Blažena Martinková, Mečiar's newly-appointed advisor. The media wanted to know who Martinková was and why she had been permitted to accompany Mečiar during a recent meeting with the Austrian Chancellor Victor Klima.
On December 6, Práca daily quoted a source close to the cabinet as saying that it was the way the spokeswomen had handled the Martinková issue at the press conference that had prompted their departure.
Under the pressure of persistent questions from journalists, Pospíšilová said Martinková was Mečiar's "advisor, we can say, for everything." Martinková did the job without being paid, she added.
Martinková is married to a former director of Devín Banka and a co-owner of Vadium Group company, which privatized 51 percent of Slovakia's most lucrative spa in Piešťany. Plump, blond and wide-eyed at Mečiar's side, Martinková has invited speculation among journalists and the opposition about a possible intimate relationship with the Slovak Prime Minister.
On December 4, during the official parliamentary "Question Hour", Democratic Union MP Roman Kováč asked Mečiar about Martinková again. Mečiar responded that she was his advisor for European integration issues, adding that her work in this respect was "more effective than that of all the coalition parties combined."
Unsatisfied with this response, opposition deputies repeated the question. Július Brocka, a Christian Democratic Movement MP, asked Mečiar whether he also had an advisor who would tell him what is polite and what is not.
At that, Mečiar exploded with rage. "Enough! You have no right to ask these questions! No right!," he yelled at Brocka. Then, raising his hands to his ears in imitation of a donkey, Mečiar told deputies, "You answer that for yourselves."More from
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