President Kiska criticises Kotleba for threatening theatres

SLOVAK President Andrej Kiska reacted to the actions of the Banská Bystrica Self-Governing Region controlled by Marian Kotleba which interrupted a theatre performance on march 13 and is now considering filing a lawsuit.

President Andrej KiskaPresident Andrej Kiska (Source: Sme)

Amateur actors from the theatre ensemble of Ján Chalupka in Brezno (Banská Bystrica Region) were not allowed to finish their play titled “Kováči” (Blacksmiths) after the interference of governor Kotleba who was sitting in the auditorium. However the play had been ordered by the regional office and the script sent to them for approval, with no objections being voiced. Kotleba reportedly did not like some expressions in the text, the Denník N daily wrote.

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Read also: Kotleba stopped a theatre play Read more 

Since becoming governor, Kotleba has had a number of conflicts with theatres across the region, the Sme daily wrote on March 16.

President Andrej Kiska used his Facebook page to criticise the region’s statements, stating that the beauty and variety of art lies in everyone being freely allowed to choose what suits his taste. "But it is inadmissible that someone like Mr Kotleba from his position of power disrupts and bans form continuing a theatre performance – and even files a criminal complaint against theatre-makers for the contents of the piece" the president wrote. "This goes beyond the limits of a decent and free society", he added.

Representatives of the self-governing region informed the SITA newswire that the performance was ordered based on the recommendations of the theatre troupe themselves, but expressive phrases were ever more frequently and intensely used, and the frequency intensified, until regional governor Kotleba made the decision, partly in response to the audience’s reactions, to stop the performance. "We decided to file a criminal complaint on suspicion of the crime of defaming a nation, race and belief, in connection with the words which were included in the piece", reads a statement. 

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Kotleba has previously taken a dislike to the use of swear words in theatre, despite the fact that these are commonplace at meetings and protests featuring his ĽSNS party members and himself. In June, during a protest against Islamisation, radicals in the crowd disrupted his speech by calling Smer MEP Monika Flašíková Beňová foul names. “You said it instead of me,” Kotleba agreed, as quoted by Sme. He also did not mind participants in the protest coarsely cursing refugees or calling for MPs to be killed.

Kotleba has a history of conflicts with several theatres in his region, and he has made use of inaccurate statements and outright lies in the past when giving the reasoning for some of the measures taken against them. 

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