Around Slovakia

Bug poachers disgust nature protectors
Medieval paintings uncovered in church
Abuse on church premises
Doctor Clown heals with laughter
Partisan statues recycled
Cabs pay tribute to fellow driver killed while on duty

Badínsky prales
Bug poachers disgust nature protectors

NATURE protectors are alarmed at the rate at which Slovak-protected natural preservations are being raided for endangered insects.
In a number of the country's protected natural areas supervisors have noticed that illegal collectors of rare bugs have been paying regular visits to enrich their collections or to make money by selling their finds at specialists' exchange markets.
"In 2000 the pseudo-researchers were focusing on the Dobročský prales (a protected forest area in central Slovakia). This time they [are raiding] the Badínsky prales," said Peter Zach from the Forest Ecology Institute in Zvolen.
"Illegal collectors cut out the bugs from dead tree trunks. They aren't ashamed to saw out a whole piece of a large trunk. They take it to a suitable place and carry out their procedures, then they add the specimens to their personal collections or sell them at exchanges," Zach said.
Prices of protected or endangered insects vary between several hundreds to thousands of Slovak crowns.

A MAJOR discovery of medieval frescos in a Martinček church.
photo: Nový čas: Miroslav Parobek

Medieval paintings uncovered in church

RESTORERS in a church in central Slovakia have uncovered what they claim is a set of unique medieval frescos showing apostles and Jesus Christ.
Rumours that the church of St Martin in Martinček, near Ružomberok, hid precious wall paintings by an unknown artist from the late 13th century have been confirmed following research initiated by the church's current operator, the Roman Catholic parish office in Likavka.
Restorers said that rumours about the existence of these paintings first began circulating about 300 years ago, probably after the paintings had been covered by several layers of paint.
"The first thing we uncovered was a part of a face and an eye of [what later turned out to be] an image of Christ making the sign of the cross," Juraj Maták, the head of the restoration team, told Nový čas daily.
"That painting was in the most preserved part of the church above the altar. Because of that, we felt that we had received a symbolic blessing to go ahead with our work," Maták said, adding that the paintings had been covered by 12 layers of old paint.
According to the head of the regional restoration studio, Ivan Tkáč, St Martin's church, built around 1260, is among the oldest in the Liptov region.
The paintings are considered to be among the world's rarest pieces of medieval art and some of the oldest frescos in the world, according to Tkáč.

Abuse on church premises

AN 18-YEAR-OLD man was charged with rape and violence against another youth after he abused two under-age boys several times. One incident took place in a local church.
Michal J. admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old boy from the neighborhood in a cellar on July 9. A few days later he had sex with the same person in a nearby forest.
Two weeks later he abused two 13-year-olds in a church youth center, when both boys had fallen asleep after drinking alcohol with the offender.
Michal J. admitted to having sex with the victims but denied he used violence to force them to have sexual intercourse with him.

CLOWNS are visiting sick children throughout the country to distract them from their diseases.
photo: TASR

Doctor Clown heals with laughter

A CLOWN plays the doctor in a children's clinic in Trávnica near Nové Zámky treating the young patients with laughter.
The clinic, which treats children with skin and respiratory diseases, has decided to employ a clown to help their patients forget about their pains, making use of a Dutch treatment method called 'laughing heals'.
"The first time we had a clown in who managed to take the children's minds off their pain it was a great experience," chief doctor Jana Danysova told daily Nový čas.
That clown, 28-year-old Adrián Ohrádka, was one of several employed to tour the country's children's clinics in the coming months.
He said he very much enjoyed his work.
"Children are fantastic spectators," he said.

Partisan statues recycled

A SECOND world war memorial that was originally composed of three partisan statues has been left with only one statue, after two of the comrades were stolen and sold to recycling centers.
Locals reported that the first statue - weighing about 40 kilograms - disappeared seven years ago, while the second partisan was discovered missing only a few days ago.
"The offenders took the bronze statue, cut it into pieces and took it to a nearby recycling center in Revúca. Police caught them but no one will ever be able to restore the statue to its original condition," said the mayor of Slaná village, Pavel Fecko.
Thefts of statues made out of bronze and other precious metals are not unusual in Slovakia. Managers at recycling centres often buy parts from such statues because, according to Fecko, it is a "profitable business" for them.
"People in recycling centers must see that these things are parts of works of art that have been stolen. I don't understand how they can buy them. Entrepreneurs who deal in precious metals should make sure this does not happen, but for them it is a profitable business," Fecko said.

Cabs pay tribute to fellow driver killed while on duty

TOOTING taxis decorated in black lace and lined up in a kilometer-long funeral procession headed towards a cemetery in Slávičie údolie where cab driver Gabriela Penteková, 42, was buried following a fatal on-duty accident.
The accident, which took place on November 9, also killed two 23-year-old customers who were returning home from a birthday party. The cab was hit by a car driven by a drunk driver at Bratislava's Old Bridge.
More than 200 taxi drivers from ABC taxi, for whom Penteková worked, and other local cab companies in Bratislava joined to pay tribute to their former colleague November 14, tying up traffic in the capital.
Penteková was the widowed mother of one 12-year-old son, and her colleagues decided to collect some money to help the orphan boy.
"We collected some money and put it in an account for him, to ease the boy's pain at least a bit. However, we know nothing can bring his mother back," said one of Penteková's colleagues.
The tooting echoed for a second time around Slávičie údolie when Penteková's casket was lowered into the ground.

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