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Around Slovakia

Štefánik gathering turned Mečiar rally
Entrepreneurs attempt to smuggle tank parts
Traditional 'maypole' erection
Lazarčík's hunting trophies nabbed from car

Brezová pod Bradlom
Štefánik gathering turned Mečiar rally

A unofficial gathering in Brezová pod Bradlom on Sunday, May 2 marking the death of renowned Slovak astronomer and politician Milan Rastislav Štefánik, turned into a pre-election rally for HZDS presidential candidate Vladamír Mečiar. As Mečiar approached the podium to address the gathering, some 2,000 attendants applauded and chanted "Long live Mečiar" and "Mečiar to the president's palace!"
In his speech, the former prime minister said Štefánik never "dreamed of possession, only of love and honesty," and noted that the recent naming after Štefánik of the scientific program which landed Slovakia's first astronaut, Ivan Bella, in outer space symbolised Slovakia's feelings of gratitude for his deeds.
The event was organised by the Slovak Youth Assembly (SMS), nationalist organisation Matica Slovenská, The Society of Slovak Intelligence/Korene, the Association of Slovak Journalists, and the Regular Conference of Slovak Intelligentsia. Organisers of the official tribute to Štefánik, set for May 8, disassociated themselves from the May 2 gathering..
Although regulations for the town hall of Brezová pod Bradlom forbid political gatherings near Štefánik's monument, Mayor Ivan Durkovič said that it was "impossible to forbid events in the memory of this national hero."


Svitavy
Entrepreneurs attempt to smuggle tank parts

Czech customs officers intercepted an illegal export of T-52 tank spare parts from the Czech republic to Slovakia at the Svitavy border April 26 which included "clutches and brakes", said Czech police representatives. Two entrepreneurs, 27-year old J.S. from Prague and a 52-year-old accomplice from Svitavy, have been accused of exporting the military material without the requisite license from the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry, a crime which violates the rules of military material foreign trade.
An unidentified Slovak joint-stock company from Bratislava, allegedly involved in the military equipment scam, bought over 130 of the spare parts for the Soviet-made T-52's. The Czech culprits are believed to have bought the parts from a military repair service in Usti nad Labem for 160,000 Czech crowns. They listed the illegal parts in their customs documents as "spare parts for tractors."
If convicted, the culprits could face up to eight years in prison.


Bratislava
Traditional 'maypole' erection

The erection of maypoles, high poles wreathed with flowers, streamers, articles of clothing - or even a bottle of home-distilled alcohol on the eve of May 1 or 'May Day' itself - is a historic tradition in Slovakia that was again honoured last Saturday. The poles are placed in residential areas as a symbol of esteem and good-will.
In the first and second centuries, Europeans erected maypoles in front of a chosen girl's house in order to show interest in the young lady, although they could also symbolise an an on-going relationship. Maypoles were also used as a form of criticism. For example, a dry-stemmed pole would be erected in front of the house of an unpopular person in the community.
Maypoles date from ancient times when Romans, Etruscans, and other nations used to put trees in front of their homes and other important buildings as a method of protecting against evil and disease. In medieval Europe, Maypoles stood in front of churches and city halls, and they served as a formal marriage proposal as late as the mid-16th century.


Bratislava
Lazarčík's hunting trophies nabbed from car

During presidential campaign broadcasts on Slovak Radio (SRO) on Friday, April 30, unidentified thieves broke into the Škoda auto of civic candidate Juraj Lazarčík, making out with various items including his hunting 'trophies' (roebuck, wolf, badger and fox skulls which Lazarčík had displayed earlier that day on VTV. The candidate supported by the Communist Party of Slovakia said he had parked near the Radio building and was particularly disappointed in the loss of his skulls.
The robbers, who broke into the car through the rear door, left only a gown and Lazarčík presidential election campaign posters.
Three hours after the theft, police in Bratislava found a bag with some of the stolen property, prompting the victimised candidate to modify his previously critical view of the police. However, the hunting trophies were not recovered, and Lazarčík has offered a 10,000 Sk reward for their safe return.

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