Around Slovakia

Orechová Potôň
Customs officers bust illegal cigarette workshop

POLICE uncovered an illegal workshop for making counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes in Orechová Potôň, in the Dunajská Streda District, the SITA newswire wrote on October 5.
During a house search, officers from the Customs Criminal Office found a complete cigarette production line and a line for packaging cigarettes and tobacco worth millions of crowns.
They arrested seven people who were working on the line during the search. Five were Slovaks and two were Bulgarians.
The foreigners played an important role in the operation. They were former workers at the official Marlboro plant in Bulgaria who set up the machines. The Slovaks were just ordinary workers.
Customs Directorate spokeswoman Martina Kereková told SITA that the action was planned in order to keep the unpaid taxes from the counterfeit operation as low as possible. At the time of the search, the unit had only been in operation for four days.
Police seized about 13 tonnes of cigarette tobacco and more than 300,000 cigarettes during the search. The total unpaid taxes on the cigarettes exceeded Sk22 million (€656,000). Other confiscated material included the paper needed to produce the cigarettes.
The cigarette production lines were manufactured in China last year. Their value on the black market is assessed at Sk40 million or higher.

Statue vandals leave Warhol all wet

Vandals broke the umbrella on the Andy Warhol statue in Medzilaborce.
photo: SITA

AN ATTACK by vandals left the sculpture of Andy Warhol from Medzilaborce's Warhol fountain with a broken umbrella and water flowing on his head.
The vandals broke the water-shooting umbrella, so water was pouring directly onto the sculpture, the Nový Čas daily wrote on October 11.
The larger-than-life-sized sculpture of the pop art king, who has roots in eastern Slovakia, has been welcoming guests in front of the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art since 2001. It consists of a bronze statue of Warhol carrying a copper umbrella.
The fountain has already been a target of vandalism several times.
"But this has been the worst damage caused so far," the museum's Martin Cubjak told the daily.
The sculptor, Juraj Bartusz of Košice, said he was sickened by the vandalism.
"They destroy whatever they see," he said.
Bartusz said he will mend the sculpture when he is asked to do so. Damages have not been calculated yet.
Museum director Valika Maďarová thinks the square with the fountain must be better guarded to prevent further vandalism.
"I have already talked about this with the mayor," she said. "He promised they will install surveillance cameras here so the next attempts at damaging the fountain can be caught more easily."
It is possible that this time, metals thieves damaged the sculpture when they attempted to remove the umbrella and sell it as scrap, but they failed to break off the umbrella completely and left it damaged on the sculpture, the daily wrote.

Sixth British Centre opens in Nitra

THE BRITISH Council is continuing to extend its network of British Centres in Slovakia. On October 11, British Ambassador to Slovakia Michael Roberts officially opened the sixth British Centre at the library of the Constantine the Philosopher University (UKF) in Nitra, the SITA newswire wrote.
The centre will help Nitra residents who are interested in learning or teaching English, reading English fiction, and finding out about the latest ideas from the UK. Along with a collection of contemporary literature, the centre also offers magazines, DVDs, CDs and online resources.
During the year, the centre will organise various activities such as reading clubs, workshops, exhibitions and presentations.
The British Council started operating its British centres in 2006. The aim is to make information on the United Kingdom available to as many people as possible. There are other British Centres in libraries in Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Prešov and Žilina.

Košice has 13 illegal Roma settlements

MORE than 500 Roma are living in illegal settlements in Košice, including 107 school-age children.
The Košice city council ordered the city police to map out the situation. The police found 13 illegal Roma settlements in the city, made up of 106 makeshift shacks that house 505 people, the Sme daily wrote.
There is no proper water or electricity infrastructure at the sites, and if the settlers do have access to water or electricity, it is illegal and dangerous. Most of the time, residents use candles and drink water from wells or streams.
More than 80 percent of them are permanent residents of Košice. Others are from the Košice Region and other parts of eastern Slovakia.
Only citizens with a permanent residence in Košice, who do not have a place to live and have not caused their own homelessness, can apply for low-income rental apartments.
"(The illegal settlers) put the sale of their apartments or eviction for not paying rent as the reason why they left their previous residences," the head of the city police, Milan Dvorožňák, told the newspaper.
The Košice authorities are looking for possible solutions to the problem. The social services department has proposed evicting those who aren't permanently registered as Košice residents. It also suggests constructing low-standard apartments for people on low incomes.
"The city is also considering taking on outdoor social workers," said Košice council spokesperson Jana Geročová. "In the winter, an emergency accommodation facility will be made available, and the city also has a crisis centre for children at risk."
Most of the shacks are built on private property, in some cases where the owner is unknown.
"If a shack is built on property owned by the city, this can be classified as the illegal occupancy of public premises, with fines of up to Sk3,000 (€89)," said a Košice police representative. "It isn't possible to view these shacks as buildings, so we are unable to order their removal."

Low Tatras
Fire destroys Koliesko Chata

Koliesko Chata in the Low Tatras burned to the ground on October 10.
photo: SITA

THE POPULAR Koliesko Chata (log cabin) in the Demänovská Dolina, a valley in the Low Tatras, has burned to the ground.
No one was injured, but the damage is estimated at as much as Sk20 million (€596,000), the Pravda daily wrote.
The fire on October 10 was caused when the owners failed to completely put out the fire that was burning in the fireplace. They left the cabin in the morning, and within hours, it spread through the whole wooden building.
Firefighters received a report about the fire shortly before noon. With the help of other cabin owners and the service staff of a nearby cable car line, they managed to rescue only a microwave oven and some clothing.
Koliesko Chata is the highest cabin in the Demänovská Dolina, at 1,235 metres above sea level. It was opened in 1948 and completely reconstructed in 1995. Before the fire, it offered accommodation for 12 people, a restaurant and recreation services.

High Tatras
Chata pod Rysmi boasts Tatras' most scenic outhouse

An outhouse with a splendid view.
photo: SITA

THE OUTHOUSE at the Chata pod Rysmi (Cabin below the Rysy Peak) in the High Tatras is a popular place. That's because of its view - according to the cabin manager, it's the most beautiful to be had at any washroom in a mountain cabin.
"There is a large window offering a great panoramic view of the peaks of the High Tatras," Viktor Beránek told the SITA newswire. "The biggest problem is that the outhouse is always occupied."
People use the facilities not only for their intended purpose, but also for taking pictures.
The wooden outhouse is decorated with paintings on the outside, as well as on the inside. Prominent documentary filmmaker Pavol Barabáš contributed with a painting of "a mountain goat that looks like a giraffe," Beránek said.
Chata pod Rysmi, at 2,225 metres above sea level, has the highest location of any cabin in the High Tatras. It serves mostly to mountain climbers and hikers and is open from June until the end of October. During the peak season in the summer, as many as 1,000 people visit it in a single day.
The High Tatras are again offering splendid views, following the snowfall on the first two days of September that made the weather unsuitable for hiking. Autumn in the High Tatras is known for "inverted weather," Beránek explained.
"High in the mountains the sun is shining, and down in valleys there are clouds," he said. "The trees' leaves are colourful, mountain lakes sometimes get frozen. The sky is azure-blue and in contrast with the snow. This is one of the most colourful and calmest periods."
Another advantage of the cabin is the fact that there is no signal for mobile phones, he added. There is no TV signal, either.
"This year I've also banned radio," Beránek said. "It is peaceful here, but it is good, because we can live more with these mountains."
The cabin was opened on July 15, 1933. It has undergone several re-buildings and repairs after being hit by avalanches. Beránek has been taking care for the cabin since 1979.

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