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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Nástenka

READERS who regularly follow this column might feel cheated – nástenka (bulletin board) has already been The Slovak Spectator’s word of the week. But that’s the way public life in Slovakia works – the same scandals keep appearing again and again and again. And most often, they have no ending.

Revealed at last: the infamous bulletin board. (Source: Sme - V. Šimíček)

READERS who regularly follow this column might feel cheated – nástenka (bulletin board) has already been The Slovak Spectator’s word of the week. But that’s the way public life in Slovakia works – the same scandals keep appearing again and again and again. And most often, they have no ending.

Whether it’s the kidnapping of President Michal Kováč’s son in 1995, the 1997 manipulated referendum on whether to introduce direct presidential elections, or Vladimír Mečiar’s wild privatisation, these and dozens of other cases remain un-investigated and unpunished. The bulletin-board tender is a relative newcomer to the club. But don’t be fooled by Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic’s press conference announcing the indictment of several suspects, including two former ministers.

The number of “buts” and “ifs” in the case is so high and previous experience so discouraging, that caution is prudent. First, the prosecutor’s office has to agree with the police indictment. Second, parliament has to strip Igor Štefanov of his immunity against prosecution. And finally, the courts have to reach a verdict.

Even Lipšic – when asked whether he believes the five suspects will be convicted – answered: “It’s in the hands of the Specialised Criminal Court. And something needs to be done with the Supreme Court.” The Supreme Court decides appeals against decisions by the special court charged with dealing with corruption and has in the past overruled decisions even in apparently crystal-clear cases of corruption. And there is hardly anything the current coalition can do to get the Supreme Court’s current head, Štefan Harabin, suspected of having close ties with an alleged Albanian drug lord, out of office.

No former ministers and only one MP out of many charged with various crimes ranging from corruption to physical assault have been convicted in Slovakia. So don’t be surprised if five or ten years from now nástenka is still in the news. And people will once again feel cheated.


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