Around Slovakia

Čumil marks 10th birthday

Bratislava's beloved Čumil statue celebrated his 10th birthday on July 26.
photo: SITA

THE LEGENDARY Čumil (Peeper), possibly the most popular sculpture in Bratislava, is 10 years old.
The bronze statue of a man peering out of a sewer, created by Viktor Hulík, was unveiled on July 26, 1997.
"It is a cheerful figure that brings a good mood and a smile to the faces of passers-by," Hulík told the TASR newswire.
Many legends about Čumil have sprung up over the past 10 years.
"One foreign tourist persuaded me that Čumil lived in the 19th century and dwelled in the sewer," said Hulík, who enjoys stopping by his sculpture during his walks through the city to eavesdrop on the various explanations given by tour guides or opinions offered by visitors.
Several years ago, the Wall Street Journal did a story on Bratislava in which the writer said that he had been told that Čumil was the leader of an underground movement against the Soviets during the Prague Spring in 1968. Another legend has it that Čumil hid in the sewers while the city was bombed during the Second World War. Now that the war's over, he can come out of hiding, which explains his satisfied smile.
But the truth is much simpler. For Hulík, Čumil is an anonymous figure.
"But it is also a bit a tribute to the atmosphere on Bratislava's Korso when I was a small boy during the '60s and girls started wearing miniskirts," he told the Pravda daily. "Čumil is just a normal guy who likes to look up the skirts of young ladies in Bratislava."

Vintage gliders soar over Nitra

More than 100 vintage gliders from 23 countries gathered in Nitra on July 27.
photo: ČTK

MORE than 100 vintage gliders made before 1960 arrived in the western Slovak town of Nitra on July 27 as part of the 35th international historical glider show and meeting.
The glider owners gather every year in a different country, the TASR newswire wrote. This year, 300 attendees arrived from 23 different countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States. A German glider from 1923 was the oldest.
The gliders will be flying over Nitra until August 5, weather permitting.
The meeting's organiser, Jozef Ott, said that this meeting enables visitors to see rare gliders, all of which are functional.
There are only seven vintage gliders in Slovakia, a small number compared to about 100 in the neighbouring Czech Republic.
There is no company in Slovakia that repairs or services such gliders, which means that Slovak owners have to go to Brno to get their machines repaired. A complete overhaul costs approximately Sk300,000 (€8,944).
Slovakia's Civil Aviation Authority checks the gliders' technical condition every year.

Harry Potter sales less than magical

THE FINAL novel in the Harry Potter series had a lacklustre reception in Slovakia, without the spellbinding sales figures that were racked up in many other countries.
Only about 130 volumes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were sold at midnight on July 21, the anticipated novel's release date, the Pravda daily wrote on July 23.
The next day, the Artforum bookstore sold 170 copies and Tesco Bratislava sold 50. Bratislava's Panta Rhei bookstore sold several hundred books, but declined to specify the exact number.
"Foreigners were mostly the ones who were interested," said Vladimír Babečka from Panta Rhei.
The response in Bratislava was unlike Prague and other cities, where people queued for hours before the official release of the book, as entertainers and eager customers alike dressed in wizard costumes.
Slovak booksellers expect higher sales after the book is translated into Slovak. The Slovak version of the novel is expected to be available in early 2008.

Czechs and Slovaks celebrate their countries' kinship

THOUSANDS of Czechs and Slovaks gathered on the Veľká Javorina mountain on the border between the two countries for a traditional celebration of the brotherhood between the two nations.
The celebration on July 29 took place at the memorial to Czech-Slovak solidarity, a site where friendly meetings between Czechs and Slovaks began in the mid-19th century, the TASR newswire wrote.
The event, which has taken place on the last Sunday in July every year since the early 1990s, was attended by Speaker of Slovak Parliament Pavol Paška and the chairmen of the two chambers of the Czech Parliament - Miloslav Vlček from the lower chamber and Přemysl Sobotka from the senate.
According to Sobotka, relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia are above average and have even improved since the former Czechoslovakia split in 1993.
"Some colleagues from other countries ask, 'Why did your two countries actually split?'" said Sobotka. "I answer, 'We split because that was the common wish. But now we have met up again.' That's what sometimes happens when a couple re-marries after a divorce, and they love each other even more than before. I see it as a relationship that has no parallel in the EU."

Police detain former colleagues in heroin bust

POLICE have arrested two former police officers and seized more than a kilogram of heroine, which has a market value of about Sk4 million (€120,000). They also found other items linked to illegal drugs when they searched the suspects' homes, TV Markíza reported on July 26.
Police started the operation on July 24. Police spokesman Martin Korch said the former officers had been involved in illegal drug-dealing since 2006.
One of those detained is also suspected on counts of blackmail and a simulated kidnapping, which took place in 2004.
If the former officers are found guilty, they may be sentenced to 15 to 25 years in jail.
This is the second case this summer of a former or current member of the police force being arrested in connection with drugs. On July 13, police arrested an officer carrying a huge supply of illegal drugs near Nové Mesto nad Váhom in western Slovakia.
Police officers caught their colleague red-handed as he met with a drug dealer from Žilina on the motorway exit near the Zelená Voda recreation area close to Nové Mesto nad Váhom.
They confiscated 7,000 doses of methamphetamine, the Pravda daily wrote.
Interior Ministry spokesman Erik Tomáš said that one dose of the drug is currently being sold for Sk300 to Sk600 (€9 to €18), putting the total value of the seized substance between Sk2.1 million and Sk4.2 million (€63,000 to €126,000).
"The police detained three persons including Radoslav D., who has been a member of the police corps since 1998," Tomáš said. "During a search, police found about 7,000 doses of [methamphetamine] on him."
The officer, Radoslav D. from Bratislava, confessed to the crime. The 29-year-old already faces charges of keeping and trading illegal drugs and could be sentenced from to 20 to 25 years.

World pitchfork-throwing champions compete

The World Pitchfork Throwing Championship in Vaďovce attracted 81 contestants from across Europe.
photo: SITA

SLOVAK Marek Ďuriš won the second World Pitchfork Throwing Championship when he flung his garden tool 26.51 metres, outdoing his rival, Jan Eriksson of Sweden (24.3 metres).
The competition took place in Vaďovce in western Slovakia on July 28 and had 81 competitors.
Slovak Edita Klanduchová won in the women's category with a 12.91-metre pitch, the TASR newswire wrote.
The throwers employed various techniques, including some that resembled the ones used by javelin throwers.
The championship took place on the 615th anniversary of the first written reference to the village. Festivities included free goulash and beer, a brass band, and a marketplace.
The day's events also included the unveiling of a plaque marking town native

photo: TASR

Adam Pilát, who fought against the Nazis as a pilot in the RAF.

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