NEWS IN SHORT

Smer behind a line of bodyguards

MANY political parties provided workspace and refreshments for the dozens of journalists covering the parliamentary election on June 17, but not the victorious left-wing Smer party, which put just five plastic chairs on the pavement outside its headquarters.

Even more disturbing was the line of bodyguards with shaved heads, black suits and dark sunglasses that guarded the building. According to the SME daily, it looked like a "scene out of a mafia movie".

Journalists were told early on that Smer officials would not be making any comments during the elections. When they began to complain, a voice shouted through an open window in the Smer building: "That's what [you] get for screwing us for three and a half years!"

Whoever shouted the statement was apparently expressing the belief held by many in Smer that the party is mistreated by the media, especially concerning its financing and qualifications to govern.

At around four in the morning, waiters brought out a tray of leftover food for the journalists, who refused it.

Shortly before five, Smer Chairman Robert Fico emerged to say the party's programme had gained significant support, and that there was a great chance more justice and solidarity would be achieved in Slovakia. He then left without taking any questions.

As dawn broke, Smer members could be heard singing in the courtyard. The politicians were chanting under a big sign saying "politics with a human face", while their shaven-headed bodyguards kept prying eyes away, SME wrote.

- Martina Jurinová

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