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Around Slovakia

Some military cemeteries neglected
Parents set pram record
Police smash international drug gang
Bear cub falls in freezer
Diplomats tour Orava region
Tyre-rolling record

Slovakia
Some military cemeteries neglected

ONLY a few military cemeteries in Slovakia are preserved in as a good a condition as this German one close to Nižný Komárnik.
photo: Jana Liptáková

SLOVAKIA should be ashamed of the condition of some of its military cemeteries, says historian Daniela Baranová from the SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica.
"I was in Germany and saw how local military bases and residents take care of the World War II graves. We should be ashamed of the condition that some of ours are in," Baranová told the SME daily.
In Zvolen, for instance, there are two military cemeteries - one of them is the military cemetery of the Red Army and the other is a cemetery of the Romanian Royal Army.
The town of Zvolen invested Sk10 million (€250,000) recently into repairing the Romanian cemetery, where 11,000 Romanian soldiers (who died in the liberation of the former Czechoslovakia at the end of the Second World War) are buried.
The Romanian government also contributed funds for the reconstruction of a monument with the words, Grace Forever to Romanian Soldiers.
The graves with the names of the Romanian soldiers were also reconstructed and flowers were planted at the cemetery.
The Red Army cemetery, on the other hand, which lies just a few metres from the Romanian one, is not in good condition, local officials admitted.
Thieves have stolen everything they possibly could from the cemetery, including bronze and copper statues as well as metal inscription letters. The cemetery is covered with graffiti from anarchist groups and the decorative wall tablets are falling apart.
Only the freshly planted flowers on the soldiers' graves are a reminder that someone still cares about the cemetery.
There are no cemeteries of German soldiers in the area. Some locals say that some Germans are buried in the Catholic cemeteries in Banská Bystrica and Zvolen.
One German cemetery is situated close to Nižný Komárnik near the Dukla Pass. A German foundation pays for the maintenance of the site. The cemetery is near the neglected Dukla monument. In the past the Dukla monument was a place where many school children were taken to swear allegiance to the country and where many international visitors visited.
"Then, this meant something to the people, now it means nothing," said one of the maintenance staff from the German cemetery.
Shortly after the end of World War II, an SNP (Slovak National Uprising) cemetery was built close to Martin. The first 127 soldiers and partisans were buried there in 1948. Today there are around 700 graves. Slovak, Soviet, French, Romanian, as well as soldiers from other countries are buried there.
Officials say that maintenance work is regularly carried out at the cemetery. Martin even has a civil servant to deal with issues related to the cemetery and military history. The town keeps in touch with embassies, as well as the families of the fallen soldiers.
In the village of Horná Štubňa there were several military graves after World War II. However, the local sexton Ervín Weiss says that none of the graves are there anymore.
"I have worked as a sexton for many years but there was never even a cross on the graves and flowers were not laid not even during anniversaries. They were just mounds covered with grass," he told SME.
In Southern Slovakia, many of the former graves were moved to other cemeteries. Three years ago three German soldiers' graves were exhumed in the village of Branč and the remains were transported to Prešov, where an association that looks after German military graves is based.


"Come on mom, speed up, it's about records!"
photo: SME - Miroslava Cibulková

Bratislava
Parents set pram record

ON MAY 8, Mother's Day, 300 Slovak mothers set a new national pram pushing record. All the parents covered the one-mile course, breaking the old record of 108 prams. The feat will be recorded in the Guiness Book of Slovak National Records.
There was a serious side to the mass pram push. It was part of a larger event entitled Let Us In With Babies, the SITA news agency wrote.
Among other things the organizers wanted to point to the problems that mothers and fathers with children encounter every day, including being refused entrance to some shops with babies in prams.


Bratislava
Police smash international drug gang

THE NATIONAL Anti-Drug Unit (NPJ) broke up an organized crime gang of heroin dealers operating throughout Slovakia on May 4. Apart from Slovaks, the group included Albanian, Macedonian and German residents, TASR news agency wrote.
Investigators with the police Bureau for Fighting Organized Crime (ÚBPK) laid criminal charges against six gang members for illegal production, possession and sale of drugs. If convicted they face up to seven years in prison.
During operation Skleník (Greenhouse), staged in Bratislava, Malacky, Trnava and the nearby village of Suchá nad Parnou, police seized 600 grammes of heroin worth more than Sk1.6 million (€41,166), half a million crowns in cash, a large amount of marijuana and various foreign currencies.
All those arrested were found to be in possession of drugs. The Albanian gang leader, named only as Refik J, was caught in the act of selling drugs. His wife Renáta, a Macedonian named only as Alexander G and Trnava-based Miroslav S were aiding and abetting the crime. Daniela D and German-Serbian Jovan O are accused of selling heroin in Bratislava.


Malá Studená Dolina
Bear cub falls in freezer

A MOTHER bear and her two cubs caused a stir recently at the Zamkovského chata (cottage) in Malá Studená Dolina in the High Tatras, when a bear cub got into the cottage through a window and fell into a freezer.
The mother bear and her cubs came to the cottage in the middle of the night, probably looking for food.
"I was alone in the cottage. I woke up to a crash, beating and crying. At first I thought they were some tired tourists and an hysterical woman crying," Milan Kovaľ of the cottage told the SME daily.
When he looked out he noticed a mother bear behind the cottage. The bear cub had climbed inside through a back window but tripped from the window frame and fallen into the freezer, breaking its glass cover. It was stuck.
The mother bear was trying to help her cub.
According to the cottage administrators, there was no food around that could have attracted the animals.
"These animals are not timid at all," said Kovaľ.
The forest administrators said they knew about this bear and were dealing with the problem.
"We are working on it. We have tried to catch her but never managed to. Now we have to ask for a new permit," said Jozef Kováč from the TANAP natural park state forest company.
They now plan to lure the bears away so that they do not threaten the tourists and the locals. Kováč said the bears would be relocated but would not give any details.


Orava
Diplomats tour Orava region

A GROUP of foreign diplomats posted to Slovakia ended their two-day tour in the Orava region with a visit to the open-air museum in the village of Zuberec on April 30.
More than 100 officials from foreign embassies in Slovakia admired the local folk architecture and traditional arts and crafts such as weaving wicker baskets or tinkers' work, Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesperson Juraj Tomaga told the TASR news agency.
Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan organized the event.
As a part of the tour, participants were presented with some recreational opportunities in the north of the country and visited the Oravský Podzámok castle and a gallery in Dolný Kubín.


Púchov
Tyre-rolling record

THE HEADQUARTERS of Slovak tyre producer Matador Púchov became the site of a new Guinness Record on May 1.
Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič set things rolling in the successful attempt, in which 160 contestants rolled the tyres for 100 metres, the SITA news agency wrote.
Participants included local students from the secondary schools of technology and employees of Matador Púchov.
Not only did they create a national record, but they also broke the current International Guinness record that was made in Great Britain. The English record involved just 21 participants who took place in the unusual discipline.
After the president got things rolling, it took 2 minutes and 30 seconds for everyone to roll to the end without any collision.
They pushed the tyres with their hands and could only move within a given corridor.
The participants included 72-year-old Miloš Galánek from Hoštiná near Púchov, and also international participants such as Igor Chugulev from the Russian city of Omsk.

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