IT’S BEEN a nice spring for tycoon Juraj Široký. First, Smer won the parliamentary elections. And then, just this last weekend, HC Slovan (Slav) won the ice hockey playoffs, beating their long-time rivals from Košice.
Although Široký officially owns only the second of these two organisations, he is widely recognised as a “co-owner” of Robert Fico’s party, and several government members, including the health and agriculture ministers, are said to be his nominees.
We’ll see what plans he and other background figures have for the country. But let’s hope there is not too much symbolism in the fact that Slovan is entering the Russian Kontinental Hockey League next season. Some in the neighbouring countries are already getting worried that Slovakia will become a champion of Russian interests in the region. Their concerns are partly justified, given that Fico was the only high-ranking Western politician to attend the United Russia party congress last autumn at which Vladimir Putin announced that he would be running for president.
Putin is one Slovan you do not want to see wielding too much influence in Bratislava.