Political news roundup

April 3- Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signs a revision to the law on offenses that strips MPs of immunity if caught driving under the influence. The proposal was submitted by Gyula Bárdos, Ľubomír Lintner, Milan Hort and Pavol Minárik. The revision is rendered powerless, however, when it is discovered MPs can still refuse to undergo blood tests, a lesser offense for which they will still have immunity.

April 4- Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan announces the government of the Republic of Iceland has decided to open its labour market to Slovak citizens without restrictions as of May 1, 2006.

April 5- Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan meets with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during the official's brief visit to Bratislava. The two labeled the current state of relations between Slovakia and Russia as "balanced". Kukan said Slovakia wanted a "pragmatic dialogue" with the Russian Federation. Both sides also support development of economic cooperation between the countries.

April 5- After 294 days in office, Culture Minister František Tóth is replaced by former Culture Minister Rudolf Chmel. In an official ceremony, President Ivan Gašparovič recalled the former and named the latter on the basis of a proposal submitted by Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda.

April 6- The first ever strike in the history of the Slovak health care sector starts at 3:30 in the afternoon as doctors, nurses and other health care staff at the Bratislava fakultná nemocnica hospital begin protesting low salaries. Apart from higher wages, the doctors and nurses demand an immediate halt to the transformation of hospitals into corporate entities.

April 6- The government approves a plan under which Slovakia will donate 5,000 pieces of tank munitions worth Sk67 million (€1.79 million) from redundant supplies of the Slovak Army to Iraq. "We want to help the forming Iraqi army," said Defence Minister Martin Fedor, adding his expectation that Iraq will use the munitions for training purposes. NATO will cover the costs of shipping the munitions to Iraq.

April 6- After six months of searching, the public service Slovak Radio (SRo) announces Miloslava Zemková will be its new director general.

April 7- President Ivan Gašparovič signs an amendment to the public service law that abolishes the Public Service Office as of June 1.

April 10- The strike by health care employees expands as hospitals in Banská Bystrica, Zvolen, and Trnava, as well as other cities, consider joining.

April 10- José Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, visits Slovakia and tours the country's the flood-afflicted regions with Slovak PM Mikuláš Dzurinda.

April 11- While on his visit to Slovakia, Barroso states that reforms in Slovakia must continue even after the upcoming general elections to be held on June 17, regardless of whether a right-oriented or left-oriented government is in power. He noted that EU member states have taken on an obligation to carry out reforms and that this obligation must be respected.

April 13- A court issues a preliminary injunction halting the strike of employees of the Bratislava hospital FSnP.

April 13- The Bratislava II District Prosecutor's Office closes its criminal investigation into fictitious Slovak Democratic and Christian Union donors, stating that investigation failed to prove that a criminal act was committed.

April 19- Slovak Parliament meets for its final regular session during the current election term.

April 21- Slovak Parliament approves a change to the social insurance law that means pensions of around 80,000 pensioners will be recalculated to higher sums. The revision was aimed at partly eliminating the differences between pensioners who retired before and after the pension reform was enacted.

April 21- The Defence Ministry is fined Sk190 million by the Slovak customs office for breaching the law on excise tax for mineral oils and the law on the administration of taxes and fees. Defence Ministry spokesman Zenon Mikle told SITA that the ministry breached the laws during Slovakia's accession to the EU in 2004, when the related legislation had changed.

April 25- The parliament closes its 61st session, which was also the final regular session of the current legislators in the finishing election term, after being unable to finish last week because an insufficient number of MPs were present for a valid parliamentary vote. Parliament will convene at a final ceremonial session on May 25, at which it will be dissolved ahead of parliamentary elections on June 17.

April 26- The SME daily reveals that hackers penetrated the computer network of the National Security Office (NBÚ). The NBÚ admits a certain form of failure but insists that no sensitive information was compromised.

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