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Around Slovakia

Bullet mailed to Mečiar
'Spice Girls' wanna-be contest
Slovan wins title
Košice celebrates birthday with 630-metre cake
Ex-cop threatens to jump from court window
Schuster sent threatening mail
Spring arrives two weeks early

Bratislava
Bullet mailed to Mečiar

Customs officers in Bratislava intercepted a letter sent to former premier Vladamír Mečiar from the Czech town of Olomouc on May 7. According to a spokesperson for the Bratislava Police Force, the suspicious letter was X-rayed and found to contain a 7.62 mm calibre bullet along with a leaflet advertising the potential purchase of shares in an unidentified company. A message scrawled on the back of the leaflet said, "Vlado (Vladimír) Mečiar! On Thursday, May 13, watch the way we are going to sprinkle you, your friends and Kalashnikov." The envelope and its contents are being examined by experts at the Police Force Forensic Institute in Bratislava.



Slovak Spice Girl wanna be's were thrilled to get a chance to strut their stuff at the Holiday Inn.
photo: TASR

Bratislava
'Spice Girls' wanna-be contest

Music publishing company Universal/Polygram, in cooperation with FORZA Production House, has declared its intention to hold official tryouts for a Slovak 'girl power' band, similar to the British pop group The Spice Girls. The competition was scheduled to be held at the Bratislava Holiday Inn from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on May 14-15.
FORZA manager Julius Kuruc said the competition would be open to any females between the ages of 15 and 25 who can sing and dance well. He encouraged all applicants to bring passport size and full size photographs ("showing their posture"), samples of recorded songs and a brief CV. The name of the new band has not yet been determined.


Žiar nad Hronom
Slovan wins title

Soccer team Slovan Bratislava defeated Dukla Banska Bystrica 3 to nil to notch their tenth all-time title in the finale of Slovakia's 30th Zlaty Bažant Cup in Žiar nad Hronom. Though the match was marred by the outbursts of Slovan hooligans, no serious injuries were reported at the Saturday, May 8 match, as Police Rapid Disposition Units were on hand to quiet the rowdies.
Slovan's successful season may also end with its fourth Slovak Mars Superliga title as they lead second place Inter Bratislava by five points with three rounds left in the season. Slovan last won the title three years ago, securing a three-peat of 1994, 1995 and 1996 triumphs.



A 630 metre poppy-seed cake was dished out in honour of Košice's birthday.
photo: TASR

Košice
Košice celebrates birthday with 630-metre cake

The fifth annual Košice Days festival kicked off on May 7 in celebration of the 630th anniversary of the eastern Slovak city's status as a town. Premier Mikulaš Dzurinda, Parliamentary Chairman Jozef Migaš, Vice Chairman Igor Presperín, Hungarian coalition leader Bela Bugár, Economy Minister Ľudovít Černak and Privatisation Minister Mária Machová were among the guests who treated themselves to a 630-metre-long poppy seed cake prepared for the occasion.
The ceremony officially began with the hoisting of the yellow and blue town flag, bearing the historic Košice coat of arms, in front of town hall. Special awards were also presented to various citizens for extraordinary contributions to the city's development. Košice mayor Rudolf Schuster passed out ten such awards this year, including one to international shooting champion Jozef Gönci.
The festivities run for nine days. They are celebrated in memory of the coat of arms being presented to the town by the Hungarian King Louis the Great in 1369, making Košice one of the oldest cities in Europe.


Košice
Ex-cop threatens to jump from court window

A 24-year-old ex-cop for the Košice police force threatened to jump from a fourth story window of a town court building after being charged with blackmail and arrested.
Troubles began when the former officer escaped from the police station after the men guarding him left to get a different prisoner. He climbed on the ledge, where he remained through several hours of negotiations. The man was finally coaxed off the ledge after which he was taken back into custody and brought to a local hospital for medical examinations.
State Secretary of the Justice Ministry Ján Mazák said that the accused had been imprisoned for 40 days after being free for several years since posting a 200,000 Slovak crown bail. The man denied all charges against him.


Košice
Schuster sent threatening mail

Košice mayor, SOP chairman and presidential favourite Rudolf Schuster received a life-threatening letter on Tuesday, May 11 signed by "a pal from Košice". The letter was intercepted by the city's police force which has begun an investigation in cooperation with criminal police.
The letter contained numerous spelling mistakes, Schuster's SOP office said, and the author promised to send the message to various media outlets. According to the Schuster camp, the letter read, "Mr. Rudolf Schuster Mayor, there's been enough of your cover-up maneuvers. If you will not give up your presidential candidacy, you will wind up like Olof Palme [an assissinated Swedish prime minister]. I will take care of it myself, even if I should pay for for it with my own life."
Schuster, the joint candidate of the government coalition, claimed to have received threatening mail in the past as well - before the 1998 elections and in 1995 when Pope John Paul II visited Koöice. Vladimír Mečiar, HZDS chairman and the presidential candidate running second in current polls behind Schuster, has also received similar threatening mail since announcing his candidacy in April.


Staré Hory
Spring arrives two weeks early

Slovak forests were adorned with their seasonal green foliage prematurely by a full two weeks this year, said Miroslav Šaniga, a researcher with the Slovak Academy of Sciences Forest Ecology Institute. According to Šaniga, the above average growth of greenery on trees in the one thousand metre-above-sea-level range was a result of the early nest building of regional birds which nourish on leaf-eating insects.
An unseasonably warm springtime in the mountains resulted in most bird migratory birds returning early this year, he continued, while some bird species which do not migrate, such as the small "passerine" members of the perching songbird Paridae Clan, including mistletoe thrushes and tits, began building nests 8 to 15 days ahead of schedule.
While the bird populations enjoy the mild weather, mating has run rampant throughout the woods. However, Šaniga warned that frost and snow were not uncommon in the Fatra region between May 12 and 24, which could serve to kill premature eggs. For most birds, this simply means additional laying, but for some other birds, such as the capercaillie, this creates a larger problem as the cock stops courting in mid-May, leaving the hen mateless.

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