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Around Slovakia

All Saints Day celebrated around country
HZDS launches new daily paper
Cinerarium for dead homeless established
Hens reject courting woodcocks
Taxi drivers protest against extortionists


The gravesite of Alexander Dubček on All Saints' Day.
photo:TASR

Slovakia
All Saints Day celebrated around country

Church services celebrating All Saints Day, also known as "Day of the Dead," were held throughout Slovakia on November 1. During the masses, Slovak catholic priests remembered various saints and praised them for the sacrifices they made for others and appealed to churchgoers to repent for their sins and live better lives.
Meanwhile, throughout the weekend, Slovak citizens visited graveyards around the country and laid wreaths and candles at the gravesites of former family members, friends and respected compatriots. One of the best-frequented sites was that of Slovak-born Alexander Dubček, a former Czechoslovak leader during the 1960's. His remains lie in the Slávičie Údolie cemetery in Bratislava.
All Saints Day in Slovakia dates back to the 7th century.


Bratislava
HZDS launches new daily paper

The first copies of Nový Deň, the new flagship daily newspaper of the opposition HZDS party, will hit stands on November 15, the party announced.
The paper is published by the Maduco company, which is chaired by Igor Kubiš, former director of the STV television station under the Mečiar government.
Nový Deň replaces Slovenská Republika as the party's media mouthpiece.


Košice
Cinerarium for dead homeless established

A cinerarium (a depository for urns containing the ashes of the dead) was opened in the Barca Cemetery in Košice marking the All Saints Holiday on October 30. The new edifice will hold the remains of deceased homeless and "other needy people."
The marble cinerarium was financed by the local government in co-operation with the Victory Funeral Home in Košice. Victory covered the expenses of the cinerarium's construction, while local social departments paid for cremation urns.
The idea for the cinerarium was first proposed by Victory owner Viktor Bandzák, who said that the cinerarium would solve the city's current problem of unidentified homeless corpses. In the past, he said, the bodies were cremated but were not given an identifiable final resting place, creating problems when family members or friends came to view the remains.
The Victory cinerarium will have a maximum capacity of 300 cinerary urns. Over the All Saints weekend, the ashes of 16 homeless were put to rest in the presence of a local priest.


Staré Hory
Hens reject courting woodcocks

Male woodcocks have begun their autumn courting of female hens in the Veľká Fatra, said Miroslav Saniga, a researcher for the Slovak Academy of Science's research centre in Staré Hory. But the males have been frustrated, Saniga said, by the non-responsive hens who are currently too preoccupied with caring for their new-born chicks to satisfy the woodcocks.
Saniga said that woodcocks display interesting mating rituals. The cocks court up to three times per year - in spring, autumn and, for the older cocks, in August as well. However, the autumn courting call of the cock is rarely answered by the hen, Saniga said.
Saniga is currently conducting a woodcock count in the mountainous regions of the Veľká Fatra for the Staré Hory research centre. He said that his count has confirmed his belief that the woodcock population is decreasing. While 4,000 to 5,000 woodcocks lived in the area some 50 years ago, he said, today only one tenth that number call the wild central Slovak mountains home.


Michalovce
Taxi drivers protest against extortionists

Local taxi drivers from Michalovce gathered in front of the town's police headquarters on October 31 to demand better protection from extortionists. The drivers said that that two men had recently been demanding 1,500 Slovak crowns per month from each driver in the city.
The situation reached boiling point in late October when one taxi-driver who refused to pay was beaten, hospitalized and consequently unable to work for seven days. The taxi-drivers said they had been forced to remove all logos and signs identifying their cars as taxis for fear of being approached by the violent extortionists.
The taxi drivers warned that the situation might well get worse. The extortionists have threatened to kill or maim anyone who refuses to pay, prompting many drivers to carry weapons at all times.
Although a police search for the two men began after the complaint was filed, many drivers reported that the perpetrators had visited local pubs on the night of the protest and further threatened local taxi drivers.


Compiled by Chris Togneri
from TASR

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