MATICA Slovenská, Slovakia’s national cultural heritage and research institution, gave 20th Anniversary of Slovak Republic Creation Awards to 26 people on August 3 in Martin.
Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin, former Slovak prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, former presidents Michal Kováč and Rudolf Schuster, former Czech president Václav Klaus, director Juraj Jakubisko, former opera singer Peter Dvorský and canoeist Michal Martikán were among those receiving awards.
While the awards came as of celebrations related to the 150th anniversary of Matica’s founding, the event was marked by internal conflict between Matica’s head Marián Tkáč and some 22 of Matica’s 38 board members, who claim that Tkáč rules the institution like a dictator, according to the Sme daily.
Tkáč did not even consult with Matica’s members over the decision on who would receive the awards, board member Roman Michelko told the SITA newswire.
“Maybe, it would be appropriate to say that those awards are not Matica’s awards but, rather, the Matica head’s awards,” Michelko said, according to SITA.
Tkáč said criticisms are a result of ambitions of some board members to replace him in the next elections for the head of the institution.
Some of his critics are connected to the case involving Matica investing money from the so-called Slovak National Treasure with Podielové družstvo Slovenské investície, a non-banking financial institution which went bankrupt and cost the group some €1 million, Tkáč told Sme.
The National Treasure was created in 1993 by contributions from firms and people and is dedicated to support Slovak culture. Matica Slovenská Foundation administers the treasure, which is currently valued at some €863,000, not counting art and precious metals, Tkáč told the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily in 2012.
“I am doing everything to wipe the shame caused by the previous management by wasting [money from] the National Treasure,” Tkáč told Sme, “which is the main reason why they want to push me away.”
Tkáč added that some of his critics did not like his effort to solve this scandal.