Around Slovakia

BKIS: Bratislava tourists overcharged

A LACK of parking lots for cars and coaches and overcharging from taxi drivers and restaurants are the most common problems foreign tourists encounter in Bratislava, Alexandra Bučková of the Bratislava Culture and Information Centre (BKIS) told journalists.
According to Bučková, overcharging often takes place when tourists pay in cash in euros. There is also a lack of information about public transport. Tourists often don't know that they need to punch their tickets and subsequently get fined. However, a new information leaflet will be published soon, Bučková said.
Language competence is another source of frustration, even though Bučková reports that BKIS is multilingual. She says tourists are particularly at a loss when trying to report thefts.

Male grass snake saved in Petržalka

PASSERSBY came to the aid of a wounded male grass snake in the Bratislava district of Petržalka on October 12, the TASR news agency wrote.
"We were walking down Mlynarovičova street and we noticed something strange in the grass under a tree. We came closer and discovered that it was a wounded snake. It was around 1.2 meters long," Andrea Oczvirková told the news agency.
As her husband was calling the police, she gave a ring to the animal rights group Sloboda Zvierat.
"They gave me a number for a specialist. After an hour he managed to treat the snake and take it with him," said Oczvirková.
The expert told them that the wounded snake was a grass snake, which is protected by law in Slovakia. It is also one of the biggest kinds of snake living in this country.
According to the expert it was probably a dog that hurt the snake.

Pub shooting ends in tragedy

A TRAGIC event occured in Rykynčice, a village near Krupina, on October 18. A 30-year-old man shot four people in the local pub and eventually committed suicide, the SITA news agency reported.
According to police spokesman Ľuboš Podlesný, the local man came to the bar and started shooting at people for no apparent reason. He fired eight shots, injuring three guests and the 38-year-old pub owner.
The men were taken to hospital in Krupina. After treatment, the pub owner and another victim were allowed to go home, but two 35-year-old male victims were hospitalized with serious injuries. One of these men was taken to Banská Bystrica hospital.
After the pub shooting the 30-year-old man went home and shot himself in the head in his yard.
Police are investigating the case. According to Podlesný, investigations show that the only man who fired shots in the pub was the man who eventually killed himself, so no criminal prosecution will follow.

Acid-bath gang allegedly bribed police

IN a new twist to the trial of 30 alleged members of the so-called "acid-bath gang", which began at the Special Court in Pezinok in western Slovakia at the beginning of October, the court heard from one of the accused that gang members bribed prosecutors and police officers with hundreds of thousands of crowns for information on planned police raids, the daily SME reported.
The defendant said that the gang, which operated in several countries, and is accused of murdering and dissolving in acid gang members who became "inconvenient", also handed over Sk800,000 (€20,600) to have investigations into an attempted murder dropped.
The intended victim, who was allegedly pushed off an 80-metre-high cliff in a car, miraculously survived.
In a separate case, one of the gang members is accused of having his luxury Audi car wrecked by an excavator and arranging for bribed police officers to take photographs of the wreck and putting in a false insurance claim for Sk600,000 (€15,450).
The gang is also on trial for value added tax (VAT) evasion worth many millions of crowns.
This fraud is supposed to have been committed when the gang was trading in worthless computer software back in 2000.

Hypermarkets get into Christmas mood

THE MAJORITY of hypermarkets and supermarkets in Slovakia started selling Christmas goods on October 17, the SITA news agency reported.
The retailers report that every year Slovaks are more and more interested in buying Christmas decorations and lights. Artificial sets are also increasingly popular.
In the toy departments, interactive and action games are increasingly popular, Tesco representative Oľga Hrnčiarová told the SITA news agency.

Country helps earthquake victims

THE SLOVAK government will transfer Sk12 million (€307,700) to the accounts of Slovak and international humanitarian organizations to help the victims of the recent earthquake in Pakistan, Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan told the TASR news agency.
Of this amount, the UN organizations UNICEF and WHO will receive Sk4 million (€100,000) each. The remaining Sk4 million will be divided between Red Cross Slovakia, the Slovak Catholic Charity, People in Peril, Adventist Development and Relief Agency International.
The Foreign Ministry was commissioned to allocate the total sum among the selected organizations that began fund raising to provide relief to the earthquake stricken people in South Asia.
Apart from the financial help, the Interior Ministry also sent a 10-tonne humanitarian consignment by charter plane to Pakistan on October 16. The Sk6 million (€150,000) consignment was presented in Islamabad by the Slovak Ambassador to Pakistan

High Tatras
Officials sign aid agreement for Tatras

EUROPEAN Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy Danute Hubner and Slovak Vice-Premier Pál Csáky signed an agreement on October 17 that concerns the provision of EU funds to help repair the damage caused by high winds in the High Tatra mountains in November 2004.
Based on the agreement, Slovakia will receive over €5.6 million from the EU Solidarity Fund, the TASR news agency reported.
This sum should cover some of the cost of repairing damaged infrastructure, providing temporary accommodation and rescue services, and clearing up the damaged areas. Slovakia estimates that last year's windstorm in the High Tatras caused damage amounting to €224.65 million.
The Slovak government submitted a request for official assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to the EU Commission (EC) in January 2005. The EC proposed aid worth €5.6 million at the beginning of June 2005, and the European Parliament approved the sum on September 7.

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