NEWS IN SHORT

MPs' plane trip to Russia criticised

THE WEEKEND trip of four Smer MPs to Saint Petersburg on a government aeroplane has drawn criticism from several opposition politicians. On September 24, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) chairman Richard Sulík called on Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška to publish information about the weekend trip.TV Markíza broke the news about the flight to Russia, with the media speculating that the trip was actually a “hen party ride”.

THE WEEKEND trip of four Smer MPs to Saint Petersburg on a government aeroplane has drawn criticism from several opposition politicians. On September 24, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) chairman Richard Sulík called on Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška to publish information about the weekend trip.
TV Markíza broke the news about the flight to Russia, with the media speculating that the trip was actually a “hen party ride”.

Jana Laššáková, Darina Gabániová, Anna Vitteková and Ľubica Rošková rode on the 19-seat YAK 40 plane, according to the Sme daily.

The work trip to Saint Petersburg had been planned long in advance, with Slovakia commemorating the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties with Russia and the 15th anniversary of opening the general consulate in Saint Petersburg, Paška’s spokesperson Pavel Chovanec told the TASR newswire.
“The YAK 40 jet aircraft was used as parliamentary vice-chair Jana Laššáková had protocol-related duties involving a visit from China,” Paška said, as quoted by Sme, adding that as a constitutional official, Laššáková is entitled to this manner of transport.

The opposition has criticised Paška, with Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MP Richard Sulík saying that the whole incident is a failure on Paška’s part, as the parliamentary speaker must sign off on the use of the plane.

“I also expect the Smer party to cover the costs incurred out of its own pocket,” Sulík said, as quoted by TASR. Sulík claimed that an aeroplane ticket to Saint Petersburg on a commercial flight costs some €100-500, and thus the four MPs would have paid between €1,000-2,000.

“However, being all classy, the ladies from Smer decided to go on a trip worth €44,000 on the government plane. That’s outrageous!” Sulík said, rejecting Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák’s argument that the aircraft needs to be used in order to spend a certain required amount of hours airborne.

Kaliňák was unable to quantify the costs for the flight.

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