SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Whistle-blower

ONE English word Slovak has no equivalent for is “whistle-blower”. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to need one anytime soon. Just this week several whistle-blowers discovered that it doesn’t pay to speak out.

ONE English word Slovak has no equivalent for is “whistle-blower”. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to need one anytime soon. Just this week several whistle-blowers discovered that it doesn’t pay to speak out.

Entrepreneur Pavol Kollár, the key witness in the corruption case against Pavol Bielik, a former mayor of one of Bratislava’s districts, said that if an official asked him for a bribe today, he would not report it to the police. Kollár has had to go through six years of interrogations and court hearings, after which he stands accused of collaborating with the secret service, while Bielik has been found innocent in what seemed a clear case. Police driver Jozef Žaťko has told the Sme daily how his colleagues from the agency responsible for providing protection to government officials and diplomats steal fuel. The Interior Ministry says it is looking into the allegations, but it has already questioned the motives of the whistle-blower, who was recently pulled from his job as a driver for the Israeli Embassy.

“An offended Jozef Žaťko is getting his revenge and spitting around unfounded misinformation and invectives,” reads an official ministry statement. Pretty strong language given that Žaťko has documents which back his claims, that similar things have happened at the agency before, and that the official investigation is still ongoing. And it certainly doesn’t sound like encouragement for others to step forward.

The judicial disciplinary senate this week found Supreme Court Judge Jozef Kandera guilty of stalling his cases, when in fact it seems the only thing he’s guilty of is criticising Supreme Court boss Štefan Harabin. It is yet another proof of the purges Harabin leads against those who dare to question him. Last year employees of the state forestry company implicated their superiors in corruption and cronyism. Most have since lost their jobs. The security guard who told the media about the vulgar language and insults SNS boss Ján Slota used when she refused to let his driver into the parliamentary garage was fined. Slota did not have to pay any price. And the list could go on.

There are three reasons for this: corrupt politicians, weak independent institutions, and an apathetic public which tolerates them both. How hard must a whistle blow to wake it up?


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