Thousands of people marched in Bratislava and Košice against corruption. A protest rally also took place in front of the Slovak Embassy in Prague in the Czech Republic. These were a continuation of the anti-corruption march in Bratislava which took place on April 18 because the government has not met the requirements of its organisers. They are calling for an investigation into recent scandals involving the Gorilla incident and Bašternák. They are also demanding the removal of Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar and Special Prosecutor Dušan Kováčik.
In Bratislava thousands of people and students marched behind a banner stating, The ‘Deed Is Taking Place’. It referred to a number of scandals involving politicians that were dropped by the law enforcement authorities with the explanation that the ‘deed didn’t take place’.
“People have stopped not caring about where the country is going, how it’s being governed and by whom ... that there’s corruption and the state is being pillaged, with education and health care lacking this money,” said secondary school student David Straka, who was one of the main organisers of the march, as cited by the TASR newswire.
One demand of the earlier students' protest in mid-April has been met in the meantime, namely the scrapping of the controversial Vladimír Mečiar’s amnesties of 1998, while other demands were repeated on Monday. In addition, the protesters demanded a thorough investigation into actions pardoned by Mečiar in the 1990s.
The speakers included former Smer regional secretary Renata Kolenčíková, former investigator of president Michal Kováč’s son Michal’s abduction, Peter Vačok, mother of murdered former police investigator Róbert Remiáš, Anna Remiášová and foreign students.
Among others who delivered speeches was also Jozef Lutter, former policeman and member of the National Criminal Agency (NAKA). He said that Interior Minister Kaliňák has lost respect and that the police are under political influence.
Actor Ján Gurdulič criticises the call of Prime Minister Robert Fico to report corruption.
“There are enough corruption reports; start investigating them,” said Gurdulič as cited by the SITA newswire.
Among the attendants of the march were also opposition politicians from the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO-NOVA) as well as the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH).
The police did not report any incidents during the protest.
Rally in Košice
In Košice the rally was attended by some 3,000 people.
“The demands that we handed over at the Government Office have not been met,” said the event’s organiser Karolína Farská. “We don’t want politicians and people who we believe are responsible for corruption in Slovakia constantly to ignore us, so we’ve decided to carry on with the marches, holding them not only in Bratislava, but also in other cities.”
More rallies are scheduled to take place in Prešov and Žilina next week. Farská stressed that the marches remain free from political undercurrents and from backing by politicians and parties.
Public figures such as actress Dana Košická, comedian Jakub Gulik and former Foreign and European Affairs Ministry employee Zuzana Hlávková came to lend their support to the initiative.
Farská said that the rallies are intended to restore people’s trust in state agencies and “mechanisms” that are responsible for justice, including the police, prosecutor’s offices and courts.
Prime Minister Robert Fico has always honoured public gatherings called pursuant to the law and the free expression of views, said the Government Office in response to the anti-corruption march held in Bratislava on Monday afternoon.
Fico welcomes the fact that young people are drawn to societal issues.
“What matters is to make sure that these kinds of events are decent and aren’t used to score political points,” the Government Office wrote as cited by TASR.