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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Kotolník

IF THERE is one significant difference between the communist era and the present, it’s the status of the boilerman (kotolník). Back then, the boiler room was a place where the regime sent its enemies. Now, it is a place where it finds its friends.

IF THERE is one significant difference between the communist era and the present, it’s the status of the boilerman (kotolník). Back then, the boiler room was a place where the regime sent its enemies. Now, it is a place where it finds its friends.

Ján Budaj, one of the leaders of the 1989 revolution, or Jiří Dienstbier, the first foreign minister of a free Czechoslovakia, both of whom worked to keep socialist cities warm, would probably be surprised that one day, one of their colleagues would be advising a hospital on how to cut costs. Since the news broke, the Health Ministry and the management of Žilina Hospital have both declared that it was, in fact, not the boilerman who prepared the analysis, but a former advisor to the hospital’s boss, who just asked his friend to sign the contract.

Somehow, they feel that this is okay. But in any case, the professions and strange relationships between those involved are not the main point. What’s really troubling is that the 17-page document (which experts say contains no useful suggestions and is in great part copied from the project with which the current hospital director won his job) cost €10,000. And this is just one small example of how public money is being used by this administration. The state-owned JAVYS company, responsible for closing down old nuclear facilities, recently opened a tender for PR services worth €1.2 million. The state lottery is now looking for a marketing firm that can get nearly €5 million for its creative concepts. The list could go on.

One other difference between the past and the present is that the socialists running the country can transfer huge amounts of money into private hands. And despite all the talk of a crisis, the government acts as though it has enough cash to burn.

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