Around Slovakia

Steroid smuggler caught at Bratislava airport

SLOVAK CUSTOMS OFFICERS found more than 60,000 anabolic steroid pills during a random check of a Bratislava citizen, Peter B., at the M.R. Stefánik Airport in Bratislava on March 20.
The 34-year-old man had just arrived in Slovakia on a flight from Thailand with a stopover in Prague, a spokesperson for the customs directorate, Andrea Zemanová, told the SITA news wire. The steroids would be worth more than Sk500,000 (€14,7000) on the illegal market. The man now faces a fine of up to Sk100,000 and confiscation of the contraband.
Possession and use of anabolic steroids, which are classified as medicine in Slovakia, is not a criminal offence here for people over 18 years old. Peter B. will only be punished for violating the law on the import of medication. He significantly exceeded the limit for importing such goods, which was set at a value of €175 (approximately Sk5,886) per person.
The amount of steroids seized would have been enough for a four-year supply, and thus cannot be considered as being for personal consumption. To import medicine for commercial purposes, the importer needs permission from the Slovak Health Ministry, while the medication must be registered with the State Bureau for Supervision of Drugs. The man did not have such permission.
In Thailand, he would face an imprisonment between 10 and 50 years.
This was the first case of illegal steroid importing in Slovakia this year. Last year there were three cases, with more than Sk2 million (€60,000) worth of anabolic steroids seized in total.

Easter market begins

Painted ostrich eggs are on sale at the Easter market at Františkánske Square.
photo: Jana Liptáková

DECORATED OSTRICH EGGS are the oddest present shoppers can find at the traditional Easter markets, which opened at Františkánske Square on March 23.
In Slovakia, as the folklore tradition says, girls present decorated eggs to boys who have whipped them with willow twigs and doused them with water on Easter Monday, which falls on April 9 this year.
The market stands have a rich variety of offerings this year, as usual. Interested shoppers can find egg shells decorated with paintings, wax, wire and lace, as well as with Bratislava's symbols. The market at Františkánske Square lasts until April 10.
Hviezdoslavovo Square will host about 40 folklore craft artists at the three-day Old Town Easter Market starting on March 30.

Burglar escapes with Sk10 million loot

POLICE ARE STILL SEARCHING for a thief who robbed a jewellery shop at Hlavná Street in Košice during the night of March 23, and escaped with gold and jewels worth Sk10 million (€300,000).
"First, the thief removed the locks from the front door of a footwear shop," Jana Demjanovičová, spokesperson of the Regional Directorate of the Police Corps in Košice, told the TASR news wire. "There, he broke a glass wall dividing the shop from the jewellery shop. Afterwards, he turned off the [jewellery shop] alarm and moved a camera out of focus, toward a wall."
The thief stole 15 kilograms worth of jewellery, she said.
Even more than the extent of the damage, the professionalism of the robbery shocked Tush Gegaj, a co-owner of the shop, the Nový Čas daily wrote on March 26. Everything indicates that the robber, who has disappeared without a trace, was not an amateur. He went straight to the place and knew what to target.
"He took the most precious pieces from the treasury," said Gegaj.
Gegaj added the stolen jewellery could be sold abroad, and warned that the logo LEO GOLD or GG appears on the gold.

UNESCO claims Danube under threat

UNESCO HAS ADDED the Danube to its list of the 10 most threatened rivers in the world - the only European river to make the list.
The latest UNESCO report claims that the Danube's main problem is river transport and dam building, but experts from countries on the Danube's banks, including Slovakia, dispute that, the Sme daily reported on March 21.
UNESCO claims that around 80 percent of the Danube's surrounding wetlands and tributaries have been damaged since the beginning of the 19th century, and every additional alteration of the river's course threatens drinking water resources and increases the risk of floods.
Milan Janák from the Daphne Environmental Institute agrees that the Danube is under threat. According to him, however, it shouldn't have been put on the list.
"Compared to other European rivers, the Danube is probably in the best condition, but this doesn't mean that there aren't any problems," he said. "The river is threatened not only by transport, but also by forestry, agriculture and poaching. There are sections of the Danube that suffer from a lack of water in certain seasons. Alterations of the river's course endanger rare birds living in forests along the river, such as the black stork and certain birds of prey."
The Environment Ministry also has objections to the UNESCO report, and claims that the water quality in the Slovak-Austrian and Slovak-Hungarian sections of the Danube has improved every year. It also believes that river transport is more environmentally-friendly than road transport.
Heda Hansenová from the University of Economics in Bratislava points out that river transport is the cheapest form of transport available. There are no fees for using the river, unlike the high rail-transport charges.
The technical director of the Slovak Water Company, Peter Minárik, thinks the most dangerous factor in the Danube's case is the human one. Ships from even the most advanced European countries dump waste into the water, he said.

Slovaks interested in moon property

Slovaks are following Czechs in buying up real estate on the Moon.
photo: Reuters

ALMOST 300 SLOVAKS have already bought plots on the Earth's nearest celestial neighbour - the Moon.
In the Czech Republic, the number of proud lunar landowners is 10 times higher, but in Slovakia this kind of deal has just started, the Pravda daily wrote on March 20.
The first virtual shop with astrological real estate opened in Martin on February 1. It is part of the Czech-Slovak daughter company of Lunar Embassy, a US firm based in Prague.
"Our Martin-based branch office also offers parcels on Mars and Venus, but the interest in plots on the Moon is predominant," said the company's representative, Filip Raichard.
He thinks that is due to price differences, and also the Americans' plan to build the first cosmic base on the Moon in 2015.
One acre of land on the Moon sells for Sk999 (€30). But one buyer can acquire 10 acres at the most.
In the Czech Republic, a plot on the Moon became the most original Christmas present last year.
"In Slovakia, it will happen this year," Raichard predicted.
In Slovakia's western neighbour, a number of celebrities own land on the Moon, including Czech singer Ivan Mládek and television host Libor Bouček.
"The Moon is just waiting for the first Slovak celebrity," said Raichard.
More than 2.7 million people from 180 countries own parcels on the Moon. One ad claims that owning land on the Moon is a good investment whose value will increase in the future, because countries that want to build a lunar colony on a private land will first have to buy or rent the land from private owners. However, there are still discussions about the legal aspects of the trade of land on the Moon.

Hostice to get thousands from Austrian violinist

THE VILLAGE OF HOSTICE (Banská Bystrica region) is debating how to spend a gift of €12,000 (Sk404,000) donated by Austrian violin virtuoso Thomas Zehetmair.
Local authorities and Father Wolfgang Pucher from Graz, Austria discussed the matter on March 20.
The Austrian musician won this year's Karl Boehm Award. He decided to donate his winnings to the people of Hostice after hearing about the village, which is near Rimavská Sobota, from Pucher, who has been co-operating with Hostice for 10 years.
"Our Roma citizens once earned money [in Graz] as street musicians, and the priest noticed them," Hostice mayor Ondrej Berki told the TASR news wire.
Some two-thirds of the 926 people living in Hostice are Roma. Nearly 90 percent of those of working age in the village are unemployed.
"It was more or less an informative meeting, at which we submitted our proposals for using the money," said the mayor.
One plan is to build 16 flats for low-income residents.
"More than a year ago, we built 12 such flats, and people appreciated it," said the mayor. The gift could also be used for creating new jobs for local unemployed Roma, he said. "We'd like to create a workshop for cabinet makers, or to begin farming activities."
According to Berki, the terms for receiving the money from Zehetmair have yet to be announced. "But it's possible that we'll go to Graz to pick up the money ourselves," said the mayor.

Castle for sale

Vígľaš Castle is need of a buyer for repairs. Anyone interested?
photo: Sme - Ján Krošlák

THE VILLAGE OF Vígľaš in central Slovakia wants to sell its castle as soon as possible in order to reconstruct the historic building, the Sme daily wrote.
The village will sell the 14th-century castle for the symbolic price of one crown to a buyer from abroad, but the contract will oblige the buyer to reconstruct the castle. Mayor Pavel Výboh expects to reach a deal by the end of June.
Vígľaš, with 1,700 citizens, does not have enough money to restore the castle to its previous form, even with the help of EU funds.
The castle burned down in 1945 and its complete refurbishing is expected to cost almost Sk500 million (€15 million).
After it is repaired, the castle will serve tourists and provide accommodation for about 80 people.

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