THE CELEBRATION in Banská Bystrica of the 62nd anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising, a resistance movement during the Second World War, attracted dozens of members of the fascist group Pospolitost, more than 10 of whom were taken into custody by special police units.
The celebration, which was attended by 800 guests including foreign diplomats and the Slovak prime minister, president and speaker of parliament, also drew the first strong words from PM Robert Fico in condemnation of the extremist behaviour that has heightened tensions between Budapest and Bratislava recently.
“We will not tolerate extremism even for a minute, there’s no need to,” said Fico. “We don’t have to be challenged to do this, we know what extremism is. It’s written in the government program, and it’s also part of my mental makeup. I will be supporting immediate and strict police action against expressions of extremism, and in this both the interior minister and the president of the police corps will have my full support.
“I refuse to let some bunch of half-crazy people damage Slovakia’s good name around the world.”
Police President Ján Packa said his forces had been waiting for the Pospolitost members, who came attired in T-shirts bearing the name Slovenská Pospolitosť (Slovak Togetherness) and Na Straž! (On Guard!), the greeting of the fascist Hlinka Guard in Slovakia during the Second World War.
Pospolitosť leader Marián Kotleba, after being denied entry, denounced the police tactics as communist and cursed some of the government representatives for their communist past. He also dismissed the partisans, who helped liberate Nazi-ruled Slovakia, as bandits and terrorists who had assisted a coup against Slovakia’s Nazi-puppet government, the Sme daily wrote.
Police then arrested Kotleba and some of his followers, and charged them with hooliganism.
Conspicuously absent from the celebration were members of the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), a member of Fico’s ruling coalition, none of whom were invited.
“What, are we supposed to go everywhere like schoolchildren holding hands?” said SNS MP Rafael Rafaj when asked why no party member had accompanied the other Slovak politicians.