Around Slovakia

High Tatras
Czech tourist dies in climbing accident

A 21-YEAR-OLD Czech tourist from Ústí nad Orlicí died in the High Tatra mountains on February 16 after falling off the north side of Baníkov Peak, mountain-rescue services recently told the TASR news agency.
He and his friend were climbing up the side of the 2,178 metre high Baníkov when an overhang of snow came loose and he fell some 100 metres to his death.
His friend happened to be standing to one side of the overhang when it broke off the side of the mountain and was later picked up by a mountain-rescue services helicopter.

Anti-fascists fined

TWO anti-fascist activists who were detained on February 12 for causing a public disturbance at a Bratislava rally organized by an ultra right-wing group have been slapped on the wrist with a Sk1,000 (€29) fine.
The anti-fascists were protesting a public rally that was being held by the Initiative for Freedom of Speech on Bratislava's SNP Square in support of the wartime Slovak state (1939-1945) - commonly deemed to have been a fascist state under the thumb of Nazi Germany. The Initiative is known to have cooperated in the past with the ultra-nationalist Slovak Togetherness (Slovenská Pospolitosť) party, which has been officially outlawed in Slovakia.
"Four people who failed to respond to the police's orders [to disperse] were taken to the police station for questioning. They were subsequently released," Bratislava District Police spokesperson Tatiana Kurucová told the TASR news wire.
The anti-fascist activists were released shortly after 22:00, nearly seven hours after they were detained.
The Initiative had wanted to hold a demonstration on February 1, but their meeting was cancelled by the mayor of Bratislava's Old Town, Andrej Petrek. According to information provided by the Initiative itself, the local council failed to ban their later demonstration.

870 people to get the axe

THE OZETA CLOTHING company plans lay off a total of 870 employees by the end of March, following its top managers' recent decision to close down two of its Slovak factories, the Plus Jeden Deň daily reported on February 13.
Their Trenčín factory will lay off 717 employees and their Skalica factory will lay off 153.
The company's directors blame the closures on the current negative trends in Slovakia's textile and clothing industry. Marcela Vlčková, personnel manager at Ozeta Neo in Trenčín, whose employees earn a meagre monthly average of Sk10,000 (€289) said the factory is no longer able to compete with factories in Belarus, Bulgaria, and Romania, where labour costs are lower.
Those who will lose their jobs are mainly women, many of whom have spent most of their lives working at Ozeta. "This is outrageous. I've only got two years left before I retire and I've been working here since I was young," said employee Júlia Vydrnáková.
Ozeta is owned by the Penta Investments private equity group.

Banská Bystrica
Internet celebrates 15th anniversary

THE INTERNET arrived in Slovakia exactly 15 years ago, when both the Czech Republic and Slovakia were officially connected to the international network through the Czech Technical University in Prague, the Sme daily reported on February 13.
Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica was the first Slovak university to be connected to the net.
Towards the end of the 1990s, the internet had already begun to find its way into Slovak households. Experts agree that this process would have been much faster if it had not been for the monopoly that Slovak Telekom had on the fixed-line telephone market at the time.

Selye University short on money

THE SELYE János University in the southern Slovak town of Komárno, where lectures are given in Hungarian, will have to dig deeper into its pockets since the election of the Slovak National Party's (SNS) Ján Mikolaj as education minister, the Pravda daily reported on February 15.
According to the university's rector, Sándor Albert, the money that the university will receive this year will not even be enough to pay all the staff salaries. Moreover, the Education Ministry has already held back part of the Sk40 million (€1.17 million) package that the university was allocated last year.
Albert claims that the university is short of around Sk1.5 million per month. "If this continues, we may have to declare ourselves bankrupt in March," he said.
Figures from the education ministry show that Selye University is to receive more than Sk40 million in 2007, which is a slight increase on last year, but the number of students has increased by one third.
Mikolaj claims that the allocation is fair, and was calculated according to the same principles as last year. According to him, the university failed to provide proper information about the number of its students. "After all, we're not going to pay out for non-existent students," he said.
The education minister withheld 10 percent of the university's allocation last year for a similar reason.

"Valentine's Kiss" at Bojnice Castle

Hundreds of people donated blood as part of the annual Valentine Drop of Blood campaign organized by the Slovak Red Cross.
photo: TASR

AN ANNUAL event called "Valentine's Kiss" opened at Bojnice Castle in the western Slovak Trenčín Region on February 9.
The local museum organized the event for the ninth time in anticipation of St. Valentine's Day.
The event organizers prepared an interesting program for visitors. Couples had the opportunity to receive "certificates of fidelity" if they were able to demonstrate "compatibility" by successfully carrying out seven tasks during a tour of the castle. The main task was to find the most beautiful painting in the castle.
According to a recent survey carried out by the TNS agency, although two-thirds of Slovaks said that they have a long-term partner, only 47.3 percent planned to celebrate St. Valentine's Day on February 14.
The survey was carried out in January 2007 on a sample of 1,040 respondents aged 15 and over.
According to the survey, St. Valentine's Day is mainly celebrated by people who are aged between 18-39, have a university degree, and live in larger towns. Two-fifths of those who planned to celebrate the day intended to give their loved one some sweets, while three out of ten said they would buy their significant other flowers. One in five respondents said that they would send text messages, e-mails, or greeting cards. Nearly one in five people surveyed said that they preferred a romantic celebration at home, while the same amount said that they planned to spend the evening at a restaurant.
The main reason that was given for not celebrating St. Valentine's Day was that the respondents did not consider it to be a traditional Slovak holiday. One-fifth of those questioned said that they do not have a long-term partner at the moment, while the same proportion said that when someone is in love they do not need to celebrate this with a special holiday. Some respondents reported not celebrating February 14 because they normally forget about it or have been unlucky in love.

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