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Smer behind a line of bodyguards

UNLIKE other political parties that provided workspace and refreshment to journalists covering the general elections, the winner of the June 17 elections, the left-wing Smer party, kept journalists waiting throughout the night on the pavement outside the party's headquarters with just five plastic chairs available for dozens of Slovak and international news people.

A line of bodyguards with shaved heads, black suits and dark sunglasses guarded the Smer headquarters and, according to the SME daily, it looked like a "scene from a mafia movie".

Journalists were told that they would not receive any comments from Smer officials during the elections. Smer Chairman Robert Fico gave only one quote to TV crews.

When journalists started to complain about the situation, a voice shouted through an open window in the Smer building: "That's what they get for screwing us for three and a half years!"

The voice was apparently expressing the belief of many Smer politicians that they have been treated unfairly by the media, particularly concerning the party's financing and its qualifications to govern

At around four in the morning, waiters brought out a tray of leftover food to journalists, which they refused.

Fico made a statement shortly before five in the morning that the party's program had gained significant support, and that there was a great chance that more justice and solidarity would be achieved in Slovakia. He then left and would not answer any other questions.

In the end some Smer members started singing songs in the courtyard of the headquarters building.

According to SME, the politicians were chanting under a big sign saying "politics with a human face", while their shaven-headed bodyguards kept prying eyes away.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports

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