Investigators request pretrial custody for Poór
Police investigators asked on August 28 that Trnava-area businessman Vladim'r Po-r be taken into pre-trial custody on charges of fraud. The suspect had returned to Slovakia earlier on August 28 after allegedly fleeing the country to avoid prosecution, and it is feared that he may leave the country again. Despite the investigators' worries, a prosecutor denied the custody request on August 29.
Po-r, a Mečiar-era privatizer who bought a 45% stake in the Nafta Gbely gas storage facility in 1996 for one-sixth of its market value, was taken into custody 14 months ago, but was released after a judge ruled that no reason existed for his detention.
Po-r is accused of signing contracts with Nafta Gbely for "consulting services" in 1996 totalling some 292.5 million crowns. Although payments were made, no such services have ever been performed, investigators charge. If found guilty, Po-r and his cohorts could be sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Dzurinda and Bugár discuss county formation
Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda met party leaders from the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) on August 28 to discuss their demands for the formation of a 'Komárno county' in southern Slovakia, an area whose citizenry is predominantly ethnic Hungarian.
Dzurinda said after the meeting that the Hungarians were demanding the formation of the Komárno county within the government's plan to redivide the country into 12, rather than the current 8, administrative regions.
SMK boss Béla Bugár said that the meeting saw important progress because the SMK's coalition partners were finally willing to discuss potential changes. Bugár had threatened on August 18 to abandon the government coalition if his demands were not met.
Bugár said that the SMK wants the new administrative region to unite the predominantly Hungarian districts of Dunajská Streda, Komárno, Nové Zámky, Šaľa, Levice and Galanta, a proposal which would give the Hungarians the majority in 'Komárno county'. Under the current plan, none of the 12 proposed regions would have a Hungarian population above 30%.
DÚ congress agrees to merger with SDKÚ
The Democratic Union (DÚ), a member of the ruling coalition Slovak Democratic Coalition party (SDK), decided at its party congress August 26 to merge with Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's breakaway Slovak Christian-Democratic Union (SDKÚ) party. The decision was not supported by all DÚ delegates, however, as some boycotted the congress in protest of the move. The merger means the dissolution of the DÚ.
In mid-July, Dzurinda and DÚ boss Ľubom'r Harach signed an agreement on the merger of the two parties. Ratification by two-thirds of the delegates at the party congress was needed to make the agreement official. DÚ members are now expected to re-register as SDKÚ members.
Ján Budaj, a DÚ co-founder who opposed the merger, said the decision was not valid because the congress had been dominated by the party's Harach wing and did not express the will of the whole DÚ. Budaj also announced the formation of a new party, the Liberal Democratic Union (LDÚ), which he said would consist of 20 to 30% of the former DÚ members.
Dzurinda said he would also seek a merger with another SDK member party, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). Although the KDH has publicly rejected a merger with the SDKÚ, Dzurinda pledged to continue courting the party, because "I particularly care about the KDH."
KDH wants pornography kept under the counter
The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) called on police to enforce paragraph 205 of the Slovak Criminal Code which makes the display of pornography illegal. KDH lawyer and Justice Ministry Office head Daniel Lipšic said at an August 25 press conference that several news stands were in violation of the law, and asked parents to file criminal complaints against offenders.
Paragraph 205 states: "Anyone who displays... pornographic materials at places where people under 18 years of age have access will either be banned from continuing their business, receive a fine, or be sentenced to a prison term of up to 2 years."
Lipšic said that the KDH was not launching a war on pornography, but demanding only that the law be upheld. He added that his party was currently drafting laws to curb the spread of pornography on the Internet.
Slovak National Uprising celebrated across country
On the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the Slovenské Národné Povstanie (Slovak National Uprising - SNP), commemorative rallies were held across the nation on August 29. At Bratislava's SNP Square, representatives of the presidential office, the cabinet and parliament attended an event along with diplomats accredited in Slovakia.
Members of the Slovak Association of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner used the occasion to speak to the crowd on the importance of combatting fascism.
The SNP was a massive armed uprising against German troops protecting the fascist Slovak government of President Jozef Tiso. It officially began on August 29, 1944, and was eventually crushed by Hitler's army.
Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA and TASR