People still want a decent Slovakia

Participants in Bratislava protest were calling for the replacement of the police corps president.

The April 5 gathering in BratislavaThe April 5 gathering in Bratislava (Source: Sme - Gabriel Kuchta)

About 30,000 people returned to the streets of Bratislava on April 5, calling on Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák to replace Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar.

There were also demonstrations in two dozen other towns and cities across the country (see the list here).

The crowds were much smaller than during the March 16 protest organised under the label “For a Decent Slovakia”, when some 100,000 people attended the gatherings, of whom 65,000 were in Bratislava.

After the appointment of the new government of Peter Pellegrini (Smer), the organisers decided to cancel the gathering scheduled for March 23 in Bratislava, though people still demonstrated in other towns and cities in Slovakia and abroad. In Bratislava, university students organised a silent march from the building of the Comenius University to SNP Square, attended by about 25,000 people.

“The pressure of the public bought the change to the posts of prime minister and interior minister,” said actor Richard Stanke. “But only few hours later, Smer chair [Robert] Fico repeated his conspiracy nonsense and we knew that the political direction is not going to change.”

Police corps president cannot be a puppet of politicians

Zuzana Petková, an investigative journalist working for the Trend weekly, was not sure whether she would attend the protest. She made up her mind only after Special Prosecutor Dušan Kováčik announced that he had initiated a disciplinary motion against prosecutor Vasiľ Špirko, who told journalists about serious corruption suspicions in late March.

“We shouldn’t allow indecent people to bully the decent ones,” said Zuzana Petková, reporter of the Trend weekly. “We can live in a decent country.”

Read also:Thousands of people returned to the streets Read more 

Reporter Andrej Bán was talking about his revelations concerning the abuse of agricultural subsidies by ex-Smer MP Ľubica Rošková.

“I wanted to write about the Italian Mafia, but I found a Slovak one,” Bán said.

He pointed to the intention to punish prosecutor Vasiľ Špirko and the current situation at the public-service broadcaster RTVS.

“The police corps president cannot be a puppet of the politicians,” said Zuzana Števulová, head of the Human Rights League and member of the We Want to Believe initiative, adding that it should be a professional and not a person whose tenure is characterised by the phrase “the deed did not happen”.

Farmers drove through Košice

In other towns and cities in Slovakia, several hundred to a few thousand people participated in the gatherings.

The organisers of the Košice protest read a letter from a Czech investigative journalist and close collaborator with Kuciak.

“When it comes to the murder investigation, we haven’t made much progress, but when it comes to the atmosphere in Slovakia, we’ve moved light years,” the letter reads, as quoted by the regional daily Korzár.

Read also:Enough of Smer, people chanted in streets Read more 

The Prešov gathering was attended by Zlatica Kušnírová, mother of Martina. She thanked people for fighting.

“I’ve been teaching my children from a very young age and they had an inscription on their wardrobe saying that 'who wants is searching for ways, who doesn’t is searching for reasons' – this is my message for the government,” Kušnírová said, as quoted by Korzár.

Before the Košice gathering, dozens of local farmers drove through the city on their tractors, pointing to the problems with agricultural subsidies. During the press conference in Moldava nad Bodvou (Košice Region), organised by Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) they talked about the connections that, according to them, reach as far as the Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matečná and how they were bullied by the mafia groups, Korzár reported.

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