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Around Slovakia

Longest beard hits 64 centimetres
Rottweiler brutally attacks mistress
High-elevation phone booth a popular ring
War museum a regular target of thieves
Time to break out the Prozac
Floods destroy school canteen
Nikolka wants to live in an orphanage
Cockroach race sees eight insect athletes
Voting in the dark
Serial killer arrested


PALKO's beard is nearly twice the length of his runner-up's.
photo: TASR

Svätý Anton
Longest beard hits 64 centimetres

At a traditional celebration of St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters, Slovak Dušan Palko won the longest beard competition with an effort of 64 centimetres.
Slovak hunters consider growing a beard a natural part of their calling, although few come close to the hirsute Palko. Second place was taken by Štefan Habala with a beard of 37 centimetres.
This year's St. Hubert celebrations took place in the central Slovakia village of Svätý Anton near a local manor house, attracting hundreds of visitors. Apart from the longest beard competition, hunters also competed in luring deer and shooting arrows from a historical bow.


Štítnik
Rottweiler brutally attacks mistress

IN AN UNEXPLAINED fit of aggression, a six-year-old Rottweiler attacked its female owner as she was gardening, biting her in the neck and head.
The dog also attacked the woman's son, who tried to kill the animal with an axe, and even attacked police, who in the end shot the animal four times.
The incident took place in Štítnik, a village in the south-eastern Rožnava region. The woman, 57, is now in hospital with deep bites, a badly lacerated scalp and a broken arm, reported doctor Peter Krokavec of Rožnava hospital.
The woman's son said he could not explain the dog's aggressive outburst. "That dog was her favourite," he said. "I have no idea what could have happened to him, but recently he would snarl when we gave him food.
"I don't think we'll be getting a new dog any time soon."


High Tatras - Lomnický Štít
High-elevation phone booth a popular ring

"YOU'LL NEVER guess where I'm calling from," said a Czech tourist calling her friends from a phone booth atop one of Slovakia's highest points, the Lomnický Štít mountain peak.
At 2,632 meters above sea level, the phone booth is Slovakia's highest, located in a building which holds an observatory and a restaurant for tourists who take a cable car to the peak in the High Tatras mountain range.
The phone was installed in the building a few years ago, and Valika Macáková of the restaurant staff told the daily Sme that it immediately became a popular attraction for "particularly Polish and Czech visitors".


Svidník
War museum a regular target of thieves

A CITY museum commemorating the bloody Dukliansky priesmyk battle of the second world war says it is facing regular raids by thieves who steal weapons and other battle gear and souvenirs.
Jozef Rodák, head of the musem in north-east Slovakia's Svidník, which holds both indoor and open-air exhibitions, said most of the stolen artefacts are probably being sold as scrap metal.
Rodák said that the first large theft had been recorded three years ago, when a 300-kilo hood covering a tank engine disappeared from an exhibition. In that incident the thieves were foiled when a museum security guard spotted a truck parked near the facility.
"We put it back, but let me tell you, it was a tough job," Rodák said.
He said the outdoor exhibitions remained targets for thieves, who preyed especially on a tank displayed in the so-called 'Valley of Death'.
"I have appealed to local authorities and recycling centres to let us know if they register something suspicious," he said.


Slovakia-wide
Time to break out the Prozac

"EVERYTHING'S gone to shit" ('všetko sa posralo') say posters that were ordered by the Nová Scéna theatre to advertise a new play, and which were put up around the country in past weeks as the election campaign came to a climax.
Although other posters mocking the current cabinet or the Slovak political scene in general had already appeared in Slovak cities, the recent advertisement shocked with its vulgarity.
Akzent Media, the advertising company that produced the posters, at first would not reveal the name of its client, saying only that the order had not come from any political party.
The electorate did not take the campaign kindly, however, even after discovering that a theatre had been behind it.
"How am I supposed to raise my kids when ads use such words in public," asked a man quoted in the Pravda newspaper.


Brzotín
Floods destroy school canteen

ELEMENTARY school children from Brzotín are having to bring lunches from home because the school's canteen was destroyed by last month's flooding.
The school's principal, Ladislav Peréci, said that although the school's educational programme had been unaffected by the floods, it would need money from the state to repair the canteen as well as a heating facility, which was also damaged by floods in this south-east Slovakia village.
Brzotín Mayor František Baco said that the village was not able to provide money to fix the school.
"We want to ask for help from the Education Ministry," he said. The school has around 100 students.


Martin
Nikolka wants to live in an orphanage

FIVE-YEAR-old Nikolka, who has said she wants to be taken away from her mother and put in an orphanage, has repeatedly been caught riding alone on local buses complaining of hunger and thirst.
A bus driver, who in the latest incident transported the little girl to the end of his line, turned Nikolka over to the police. Officers, who said they knew the stray passenger, took the girl home.
On the way home, Nikolka asked the officers for food and drink, and allegedly said that she wanted to go and live in an orphanage.
Neighbours later told the officers that Nikolka's mother was an alcoholic who did not take care of her children. Nikolka has an older sister, Veronika.
Neighbours told police that Nikolka and Veronika are frequently seen picking food from trash containers.
One year ago, police found Nikolka strolling alone around an annual fair organised in Martin. They waited for two hours to see whether somebody would report a missing child, but no one did.
The local social affairs department said it would deal with the situation, and did not rule out taking the girls away from their mother.



TABLE smacking makes roaces run faster, says winning driver.
photo: TASR

Martin
Cockroach race sees eight insect athletes

SLOVAKIA for the first time witnessed a cockroach speed race at the traditional Insect Exchange Day in the central Slovakia town of Martin.
The eight cockroaches that took part in the September 14 competition had to run a three-metre distance on a desk that served as a racetrack. The rules of the competition banned the insects' owners from touching them during the race.
The winning cockroach apparently owed its victory to a special technique employed by the insect's owner. Each time the cockroach stopped, the owner slammed her palms on the race desk, jolting the insect into movement again.
The final times were not recorded, nor were prizes given to the medallists.


Havka
Voting in the dark

BECAUSE THE east Slovakia village of Havka owed Sk5,000 ($113) to a local electricity provider, its inhabitants feared they would have to cast their votes in September 20-21 general elections in rooms lit by candles.
Havka, pop. 47, was unable to pay the debt, which the mayor called an "unimaginably huge price".
Mayor Jozef Jabrocký told the Slovak daily Sme that he had even had to ask the nearby Kežmarok regional office for money to buy nine candles and two flashlights, which he wanted to use in the ballot room after dusk.
Ján Mlynár from the Kežmarok regional office said he would do his best to persuade the electricity company to turn on the lights at least during the general elections.
The village only has two fixed telephone lines, one of which belongs to the mayor. Havka's total debt is Sk40,000 ($908) most of which, the mayor said, was owed to the tax office.



LAZOVSKÝ's spree ends.
photo: TASR

Central Slovakia
Serial killer arrested

A BRUTAL killer, who in 11 days murdered three elderly people during five house robberies, was finally arrested after having panicked most of central Slovakia's retired population.
Vladimír Lazovský, 28, was arrested September 16 in a bed-and-breakfast where he had holed up in the High Tatras area. Police had discovered his presence during a check of tenant lists in the region's hotels and lodgings.
Žilina police said Lazovský had only recently been released from jail, where he had been serving time for robbery. While police would not say whether Lazovský had confessed to the murders, they stated he had been wearing a ring stolen during the last of the five serial armed robberies.
On September 5, Lazovský allegedly killed a 94-year-old man for Sk6,300 ($140). Four days later he is believed to have attacked a retired couple who had Sk8,000 ($177) in their possession. They were found alive and bound to chairs.
Three days later, Lazovský allegedly killed an 88-year-old man and took the Sk2,000 ($45) he found in the old man's house. The last murder took place on September 14 when the culprit slew a 75-year-old and stole the man's savings of Sk15,000 ($330).


Compiled by Martina Pisárová from press reports

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