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Around Slovakia

Police uncover 13 tons of poison
Slovak diplomat's house burned down
38 compete in Sherpa Rally
New Christmas record unveiled
Ruthenian revival is facing collapse

LUČENEC
Police uncover 13 tons of poison

Police in this south-central Slovak town of 29,000 discovered 13 tons of highly toxic material suspected to be used to make explosive materials, Tibor Kurunczi, the chief of the police's local district investigation bureau, said on October 18.
Kurunczi added that officers have found out the storage site was rented by a Romany entrepreneur from the nearby village of Nitra nad Ipšom. "In a shabby building there was a fire about a month ago and during its liquidation, 13 tons of highly toxic material were found stored there," Kurunczi said. "The owner of the building is active in the construction business, and he had no permission to hold substances of this kind."
The suspect, who police would not name, was also arrested on charges of illegally possessing narcotic substances, poisons and materials used to produce narcotics. If convicted, the man could face one to five years in prison.
Kurunczi also said the bureau had notified appropriate authorities to the danger of the toxic substances being exposed to the public. "The bureau of investigation immediately announced to the respective police and district state administration officials that people's health could be endangered, because the storage site was not protected against people entering it," Kurunczi said.
Removing the toxic substance could be difficult because the entrepreneur does not have the money to pay for it.


RIMAVSKÁ SOBOTA
Slovak diplomat's house burned down

The house of a Slovak diplomat posted in Belgrade was burned down in what the police think was a deliberate attack in this city of 25,000 in south-central Slovakia.
The house belonged to Igor Chamula, former parliamentary deputy for the Slovak National Party (SNS) who was sent to Yugoslavia on October 15. A fireman who wished to remain anonymous told TASR that the fire originated in two different places, indicating arson. Chamula said he thinks it was poltically motivated. "Somebody wanted revenge against me and my family," he said. "He didn't steal anything, didn't leave a trace, and set the fire so that it destroyed most of the house and everything in it."
Chamula, recently in the public eye after being the subject of unfavorable columns in some regional newspapers, pointed the finger at those articles' authors for setting the blaze. "I suspect certain people who have recently published articles in regional newspapers about me - pointing to me as an initiator of national intolerance," the former SNS MP said. "Maybe these ungrounded assertions provoked somebody to commit a crime."


HIGH TATRAS
38 compete in Sherpa Rally

A new winner was crowned in the men's division at the Sherpa Rally, an annual competition pitting mountain climbers lugging weighted backpacks up steep paths, that ended this Alpine range on October 19.
Eduard Lipták from the Tatras Mountain Rescue Service navigated himself and his 60 kilogram backpack from Popradské Pleso (1,500 meters above sea level) to the tourist hostel Chata pod Rysmi (2,250 meters above sea level) in 1:33.12 to win the event, which was first held in 1984.
In all, 38 "bearers," including eight courageous women with 20 kilogram packs, raced against the clock in weather so nasty that only eight of the 42-person Italian squad that came to compete decided to go on. "When the Italians saw how bad the weather was, they didn't want to go," said Victor Beránek, a veteran Slovak bearer of 20 years. "They said that to a place like this they would carry things on a helicopter."
"We went up half of the path in the rain, the rest in snow, and the ground was also slippery," said last year's champion Miroslav Jilek of this year's event. "The conditions were very bad, and we were challenged by a strong wind."
Beránek from Chata pod Rysmi placed second with a time of 1:40.04, and Michal Križák from Téryho Chata took third, more than two minutes behind in 1:42.43. Janette Korinová from Tatranská Lomnica was best among the women.


SMOLENICE
New Christmas record unveiled

The walls of the beautiful, neo-gothic castle that graces this village of 3,000 in western Slovakia echoed with the sweet sounds of music as three famous Slovak and Czech musicians introduced their album for the Christmas season, called "The World Has Love."
Slovak pop singer Pavol Habera, Slovak opera tenor Peter Dvorský and Czech pop singer Karel Gott teamed up to create the album, accompanied by music from the Slovak Philharmonic and lyrics written by Slovak poet Daniel Hevier.
It wasn't a cheap undertaking. "I am pretty sure that this is the most expensive project in the history of Slovak pop music," said the album's producer, Július Kinšek. "The cost is around 3 million Sk, when usually a project like this would be around 100,000 Sk." Heavy-hitting sponsors VSŽ Košice, ŽOS Trnava, Slovenská Poisťovňa, Slovak Telecom, Coca-Cola and Banka Haná pitched in to cover the costs.
The record has 13 songs, the majority of them being cover versions. All of them have one thing in common, though, in that they are about Christmas. All three singers were present at the record's introduction party, along with 400 guests, mostly businesspeople. While it only took three weeks to cut the album, Gott seemed to relish every moment of it. "It's with great pleasure that I welcomed my first opportunity to sing this beautiful composition with such an excellent tenor as Peter Dvorský," Gott said.


PREŠOV
Ruthenian revival is facing collapse

Participants in the fifth Ruthenian Revival Congress held in Prešov on October 26 wrestled with the possible collapse in their efforts to resuscitate the Ruthenian language and culture in Slovakia, with many blaming the government for drying up subsidies that were available in the past.
The report issued at the conference's close pointed out that independent Ruthenian radio and television editorial desks have not been formed, and the idea of opening a Ruthenian language department at the Pedagogical and Greco-Catholic Theological Departments at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Prešov has not been implemented.
Despite the pleas, at least one broadcaster thinks this ethnic group has enough already. "Ruthenians and Ukrainians have broadcasting six days a week for at least an hour a day," said an editor at Slovak Radio in Prešov. "They wish to have more. They also want broadcasts to cover all of Slovakia, but there is no money for that."
Ruthenians are the western-most branch of the eastern Slavs who first came to Slovakia in the 11th century, settling mainly in the northeast part of the country. During the politcal and constitutional crisis which gripped the Czechoslovak Republic in 1938-39, Ruthenians lobbied extensively to join the north-east part of Slovakia with Sub-Carpathian Russia. Approximately 17,000 people officially listed themselves as Ruthenians in the 1991 census, though the actual number is probably greater than that.


Andrea Lorinczová and TASR

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