Around Slovakia

Gypsy youth beaten unconscious
Independent theatres ask for government subsidy
Soldier loses hand removing snow
Palacka and wife released from hospital
Avalanche warnings

Banská Bystrica
Gypsy youth beaten unconscious

A 13-year old gypsy boy walking his dog in the evening of February 5 was attacked by unknown offenders and beaten unconscious with baseball bats. He suffered serious skull fractures and brain bleeding, and was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital in Banská Bystrica where he remained in a coma in intensive care until February 14.
According to doctors, the boy is out of danger after awaking from his coma, but may suffer long term damage from the attack. Romany groups in the area have accused local skinheads of carrying out the attack, saying there have been several such incidents recently. Police have refused to comment, saying an investigation is under way.

Independent theatres ask for government subsidy

The association of Independent theatres (ZND) has asked for an 8 million Sk ($210,000) subsidy from the government. ZND chairman and Stoka Theatre director Blaho Uhlar said that it is a simple bureaucratic step aimed at improving the financial situation of the theatres and that it was not a long term solution. Uhlar said that the network of theatres funded by the state budget has "spread like a cancer" and that the cost is half a billion crowns annually. He added that the quality of presentations and the interest of audiences at international festivals was not considered when the funds were distributed.
Other directors have supported Uhlar's appeal for government support on behalf of independent theatres. Stanislav Scepka, director of Radošinské Naivné Divadlo which has been performing for 35 years without state support, said that Uhlar's demands would be the first step towards changing the light in which independent theatre is viewed in Slovakia. Viliam Klimacek, GunaGu theatre director, said that actors from his theatre must also dub scripts for television in order to make ends meet, and that his theatre has survived only by pushing its few actors and actresses to work extra hard.

Soldier loses hand removing snow

A 24-year-old soldier at the Airforce training base in eastern Slovakia lost his hand when the snow removal unit he was repairing exploded on February 15. According to Colonel Tomáš Švec, the "cardan universal joint shaft" in the unit flew off and embedded itself in the fuel tank. During repairs, the fuel tank exploded sending pieces of torn metal through the air. The soldier was struck by the flying metal which cut off his hand above the wrist.
The soldier has been hospitalised at the Faculty Hospital surgery department in Košice. The incident is being investigated by Airforce military bodies.

Palacka and wife released from hospital

The health of Gabriel Palacka, Minister of Transport, Post and Telecommunications, improved sufficiently for him to be released from Nitra hospital. Palacka and his wife, who will also be released, were injured on February 7 when their BMW crashed outside of Nitra. The driver of the car also suffered minor injuries.
Viktor Žak, Nitra hospital director, said that the patients underwent rehabilitation and can now walk without assistance. Palacka suffered an injured knee, broken ribs and a fractured pelvis while his wife suffered spinal injuries.

Avalanche warnings

On the five-degree international scale of avalanche ratings, resorts in the the mountains around Slovakia have reported third and fourth degree conditions as a result of the persistent snowfall in the area. At alpine levels, warnings for "dusty or plate avalanches" have been issued, which have the capability of reaching lower lying land and valley floors.
Martin Matušek, a representative from the Centre of Avalanche Prevention in Jasna, said that snow has been blown into glens creating unstable snow conditions. "Small mechanical interventions" have been used to liberate avalanches in the most dangerous areas, said Matušek, adding that ski slopes and routes have been deemed avalanche-safe.

Compiled by Chris Togneri
from TASR, SITA and
press reports

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