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Around Slovakia

Veterinarians fight rabies
Southern Slovaks protest "Hungarian-isation of government"
Astronaut's parents very proud
One suicide, another attempt
"Vegas" bar brawl
220-year old cow's heart found in chapel
Local convict caught again
Children's clothing stolen
Mystery goods stolen from customs warehouse

Ružomberok
Veterinarians fight rabies

Veterinarians in Ružomberok have decided to kill all stray dogs found in the region in order to check the rapid spread of rabies. The vets have also called for the mandatory vaccination of all household pets.
The decision was prompted by last year's backyard discovery of a rabid lynx, which was shot by a local hunter, and by the discovery of two rabid foxes in the region. Local vets warned that rabies-infected humans can be sick for two weeks if they catch the deadly disease.


Šurany
Southern Slovaks protest "Hungarian-isation of government"

Over one thousand Slovaks gathered in the town of Šurany (Nitra Region) on February 21 to stage a collective protest against "the intensifying discrimination against Slovaks living in south Slovakia," said Jozef Steiner, director of the local division of Matica Slovenska, a self-proclaimed Slovak cultural and national institution.
Representatives from Matica Slovenska were joined by officials from the opposition Movement for a democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) who criticised the current government for drafting a law which requires the languages of ethnic minorities to be used in state offices in districts where they make up more than 10% of the population, and for an amendment which requires bilingual school report cards in schools where lessons are taught in Hungarian. They added that the legislative moves were a "capitulation to Hungarian pressure" on behalf of "the fulfilment of international conventions and constitutionality."
Vice-chair of Matica Slovenska Stanislav Bajanik demanded the resignation of Pál Csáky, Deputy Prime Minister for Ethnic Minorities and Regional Development, saying that Slovaks in south Slovakia have been "exposed to an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and doubt due to the Hungarian-isation of the government administration." Other representatives added that south Slovakia is "under significant control of the Hungarians."


Dolná Lehota
Astronaut's parents very proud

The family of Ivan Bella, Slovakia's first astronaut, expressed great pride in the eldest of their four children from their home in Dolná Lehota on February 20.
While admitting that the family is still somewhat afraid for their son in his chosen profession, Marián Bella, Ivan's father, said that the family is "getting used to the idea" of their son as an astronaut and added that, "only a few parents could bring up a son like this."


Košice
One suicide, another attempt

Alexander F., 61, hanged himself from the living room window of his Michalovce flat on February 19. The suicide victim left a note explaining that the mental illness which had resulted in his being admitted to the psychological ward of Košice hospital had driven him to the act. His doctor said that the patient had a long history of psychological problems and that he had also attempted suicide last year.
Another suicidal man attempted, but failed, to hang himself from a tree in a forest on the outskirts of Košice. Arpád V., 49, hanged himself on February 19 with electrical cables but was discovered by a passer-by who managed to free the man before he died. He was then rushed to the hospital where he remains in a coma.


Turzovka
"Vegas" bar brawl

Two unknown males attacked a patron of the "Vegas" bar in Turzovka on February 20. The victim, from Klokočov, was repeatedly kicked in the face by his attackers, who made off with the victim's passport and the 65,000 Sk in cash that he had been carrying.
The victim, identified as R.J., suffered a broken nose before he managed to escape his attackers by running away. Doctors said that R.J. would need at least three weeks to recover from his wounds.


Modrý Kameň
220-year old cow's heart found in chapel

Workers renovating the chapel of the castle at Modrý Kameň unearthed a 220-year-old cow's heart that had been buried one meter deep under the altar. The organ was found preserved in salt in a gold and bronze box.
The odd discovery was explained by local historians, who said that the plague had killed hundreds of cows in the 18th century. A note found in the archives of the nearby Hungarian town of Salgotariane stated that the sick cow's heart had then been placed under the chapel altar because of an image of Mary over the altar which was reputed to have miraculous powers. They hoped the ritual burial would end the plague.
Castle representatives have announced plans to exhibit the cow's heart in the castle museum at the start of the tourist season on May 1.


Prievidza
Local convict caught again

A man who last year was convicted of breaking and entering into 28 different beer cellars and garages in Prievidza, was caught stealing again last week. This time, the man was discovered stealing mountain bikes and has been accused of the theft of 15 bikes worth over 100,000 Sk. He is now in jail in Prievidza.


Lučenec
Children's clothing stolen

An unknown robber broke into a children's clothing store in Lučenec during the night of February 20 and made away with "baby clothes, children's jeans, girl's dresses and fabric worth over 70,000 Sk, and bed sheets worth over 80,000 Sk," police said. The culprit gained entry to the store through a window and has not yet been caught. The case is currently being investigated by the local police.


Žilina
Mystery goods stolen from customs warehouse

Two men dressed in green and brandishing pistols with silencers stole two trucks of goods from the customs warehouse in Žilina February 22. The thieves attacked the warehouse's two guards, gagged and tied them to the central heating system, then injected an "unknown liquid" into their thighs. It is not yet known what was stolen because customs officials must take a complete inventory of the warehouse before the missing goods can be determined.
Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová suggested that the robbery could have been related to the discovery and apprehension of a "liquid drug producing machine" found by customs inspectors a few weeks ago.

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