FAR-RIGHT extremists marched through Bratislava’s centre, as they do every year in mid-March, to mark the anniversary of the establishment of the wartime Nazi-satellite Slovak state. A group of anti-extremist protesters, with Bratislava’s mayor at the helm, attempted to obstruct the extremists, who however circumvented the blockade.
Extremists praising the fascist Slovak state, particularly its president Jozef Tiso, gather in Bratislava every year to mark March 14, the day when the wartime state formally emerged. This time around their gathering took place on March 17 under the slogan ‘For a Free Slovakia’, officially protesting against Slovakia’s membership in the European Union, which they see as interfering with the state’s independence and sovereignty. The destination of the march was Tiso’s grave at Bratislava’s Martinsky Cemetery.
In response to the extremists’ march, another public gathering took place on the same day at SNP Square in central Bratislava. Reportedly up to 200 people gathered there to block the extremists’ march, including some notable figures from Slovak public life, such as Bratislava’s Mayor Milan Ftáčnik,.
“I’m here because I consider it an expression of my civic attitude,” Ftáčnik told the SITA newswire. “My opinion is clear, I cannot support neo-fascism in any form. Bratislava should be a city where there are no ground for this.”
Both gatherings were officially announced and approved by the authorities. The extremists however avoided SNP Square and changed their route to the cemetery at the last minute. Upon hearing of the extremists’ change in routes, the protestors moved quickly to the cemetery in a continued attempt to block the march, the TASR newswire reported. Their gathering was, however, not officially sanctioned to take place there, unlike the extremists’ gathering, and thus the police forced them away to prevent a confrontation.
No major clashes occurred in the end, although police detained MP Alojz Hlina, who was among the protesters, and four others, TASR wrote. Hlina could be fined €165 for obstructing the right to gather, according to Sme.
Hlina later said that he found his treatment by police to be professional, but was “terrified by the rooms they work in”, and compared the police offices to a stable, SITA wrote.
18. Mar 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Michaela Terenzani