PM threatens to sack culture minister

CULTURE Minister František Tóth's job was in jeopardy again yesterday.

After surviving a vote of non-confidence in parliament last Friday, Tóth was called on the carpet by Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, who ordered the minister to immediately halt the ongoing sale of real estate owned by the Culture Ministry, or face dismissal.

Tóth had planned to sell the ministry assets in order to finance the completion of the new Slovak National Theatre (SND) building. The minister agreed to abide by the PM's wishes, but accused Dzurinda of succumbing to pressure from the political opposition, the SME daily wrote.

Last Friday, Vladimír Mečiar, the chairman of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, threatened to topple the government should the Culture Ministry continue with the real estate sales.

Dzurinda rejected the accusation of collusion with the opposition, and said the sales were being halted in line with a recent cabinet decision to freeze all privatization tenders and sales of state assets until after June elections.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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