Around 300 protesters gathered on November 11 in Košice’s City Park in front of the residence of Parliamentary Speaker Pavol Paška to demand his resignation over what they view as his involvement in the scandal of an overpriced CT (computerised tomography) scanner bought by Piešťany Hospital.
“People from Košice have surprised me; this represents a critical mass in Slovakia,” independent MP Alojz Hlina who attended the demonstration reacted. “Another protest is set to take place in Bratislava on Friday [November 14]. It may be enough [for Paška’s resignation],” said Hlina, as quoted by the TASR newswire. He added that the time has come when the opposition needs the help of the public.
“A person [i.e. Paška] who represents what we didn’t do properly in November 1989 should step down in honour of the 25th anniversary [of the fall of Communism],” Hlina said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We allowed the smooth transition to the new times for figures from the old regime and we provided them with a constitutional protection of their property.”
Paška was accused by the opposition of having ties to people in the Medical Group, the company selected to procure the Piešťany hospital with the device costing €1.6 million, allegedly overpriced, and also to people on the board of the company and in its leadership, Smer nominees.
Medical Group supervisory board chairman Juraj Koval in a written statement provided to the media on November 11, claims to be the sole owner of the company involved in the CT scanner scandal.
“Neither the current Speaker of Parliament [Pavol Paška], nor companies that have been mentioned in connection to Medical Group in recent days, have any shares in Medical Group or take part in the company’s decision-making,” said Koval.
Medical Group is registered in Belize, a tax haven, with the Slovak opposition claiming that Paška and the Penta financial group feature in its background. Both Paška and Penta have denied the claims, however, and have indicated that they want to take legal action against MPs spreading the reports – most notably independent Daniel Lipšic.
Koval in the statement said that Medical Group is not a supplier of medical equipment, but one of medicines and medical materials. “Despite this, Medical Group has taken part in tenders that don't have anything in common with the subject of its activities,” he said, according to TASR. “I view this as a serious failure of the managing board and the general director [Erika Bilá],” claimed Koval, adding that Bilá along with other managers will be dismissed the next day.
The protest for November 14 in Bratislava will be organised by the opposition parties Ordinary people and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Nova and independent MP Hlina, the Sme daily wrote.
(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
12. Nov 2014 at 10:00