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Around Slovakia

Mečiar's brother attacks journalists
Man asks for ballot with one question
Mayor refuses to accept ballots
Family pitches protest tent

LADOMIERSKA VIESKA
Mečiar's brother attacks journalists

In this village of 800 in central Slovakia, two Czech journalists claimed they were attacked by Milan Mečiar, brother of the Slovak prime minister.
The journalists, Marek Wollner and Jan Šilpoch were travelling around the country, searching for opinions people had about the public vote, when the final stage of their Tour de Referendum brought them to the polling station here.
When the reporters entered the building and showed their press passes, they alleged, Mečiar, a member of the district referendum commission, asked them to leave the room.
They did so, accompanied by a member of the commission who was willing to give them some information.
After they took a picture of the commission through the open door, the journalists said Mečiar attacked the photographer and ripped the flash from his camera.
When the journalists tried to get the flash out of Mečiar's pocket, the premier's brother struck again, they said.
When Šilpoch tried to defend himself, Mečiar lost his balance and fell to the ground.
Police called to the scene took the film from the camera, and let both sides file suits, in which they charged each other with assault.
Mečiar confirmed that an incident took place, but said the Czech journalists attacked him. "One of them tried to take pictures on the way out, and I restrained him," Mečiar said. "By so doing, I didn't assault him but tried to compel him to observe Slovakia's laws." According to press reports, this was not the only attack involving the premier's brother.
The day before the conflagration with the Czech journalists, Mečiar verbally accosted areporter from the Slovak daily Nový Čas.
"Get out of here right now. You have been [expletive] on us for a long time. There is nothing to do for you here, this is an official room." Upon completing his speech, Mečiar ripped the reporter's camera out of his hands, the daily reported.


NITRA
Man asks for ballot with one question

Representatives of the district commission in this city of 87,000 in western Slovakia witnessed an amusing experience five minutes before polling stations closed on May 23 when a 65-year-old retired man refused to vote on the ballot with three-questions. But it was not because he wanted a four question ballot.
Instead, after commission members apologized that they did not receive sheets with four questions, the man, a surprised look on his face, requested a ballot with one question dealing with whether people agreed with Slovakia being a neutral country. Told that no such question was on the ballot, the elderly man said he hadn't heard that the referendum was supposed to be about Slovakia joining NATO or the direct election of the president. When asked why he thought the referendum was about Slovakia's neutrality, the man referred to Ján Slota, whose Slovak National Party espouses the country's neutrality. Further he explained that neutrality for him personally means to live on such a high economic level like the Swiss do.


SMOLENICE
Mayor refuses to accept ballots

This western Slovak town of 3,700 was the only one in Trnava region whose mayor at first refused to accept the ballots. After the mayor, Andrej Gašparovič, along with the town council decided not to accept the ballots in the late afternoon of May 23, Gašparovič said he wished "that this country would not have to experience such chaos as it is going through now." Early the next morning, Smolenice's council decided to accept the ballots, because the region's district commission ruled that an individual municipality did not have the right to adopt a decision on its own.


PETRŽALKA
Family pitches protest tent

In this Bratislava district of 150,000 inhabitants, one district commission was handing out ballots with three questions. Searching for a way to protest against this, Alexander Jacsa, his wife and their daughter decided to pitch a tent in front of the polling station to protest the absence of the four question ballots. Asked why, Jacsa said it was not only an important decision for himself, but for his child's future as well.

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