One year after the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, thousands of Slovaks took to the streets again to commemorate the murdered journalist and his fiancée, repeating the demands that the protesters have been voicing throughout 2018. Organisers estimate that about 30,000 people participated in today’s event in Bratislava, according to the Sme daily, and hundreds of others from other towns across Slovakia and also abroad, joined in.
The father of Ján Kuciak, Jozef Kuciak, addressed the crowd in Bratislava, with Ján's sister, Mária, by his side. He thanked the protest organisers and the people who supported his family at this difficult time.
He said the saddest thing is that one year into the investigation of the murder, they discovered Ján Kuciak was followed by former SIS members and screened in police databases.
“Everyone can make their own judgement about what kind of democracy we live in and whom should actually apologise,” Jozef Kuciak said.
Calling for many resignations
The commemoration also included a prayer for the murdered couple, who were Catholics. The priest said that the murder of Ján and Martina was for Slovakia what the fall of the Twin Towers was for the US.
“Our demands are still on,” one of the protest organisers, Juraj Šeliga, said. They are still calling for an independent investigation of the murder and refuse political interference with the investigation. They call for a trustworthy government and a prime minister who does not need the approvals of his party leader.
The organisers also called on Parliament's Speaker Andrej Danko to step down and called him a disgrace to the parliament.
In addition, they mentioned the failed election of Constitutional Court judges, due to one “power-drunk MP”. “We cannot let them capture the Constitutional Court.”
“Enough of Fico”, the crowd responded with chants. Šeliga called on Robert Fico to go “into oblivion”, the crowd chanted “to jail”.
Special Prosecutor Dušan Kováčik was also mentioned, Karolína Farská called on him to resign and accused him of “covering up crimes”.
Most-Híd leader Béla Bugár has disappointed Slovakia and we will never forget that, the organisers said from the stage.
Many changes have happened because we did not give up, the change is at hand, we can achieve it if we hold on, said Farská.
Kočner behind bars just the beginning
Actors of the Slovak National Theatre and the Astorka theatre also addressed the crowd, just like they did at last year's protests. Richard Stanke thanked journalists for the work they are doing and promised Jan and Martina and their families that “we will not give up”.
“Kočner in Leopoldov must be just the beginning, not the end of this case,” Stanke said.
He also thanked farmers for joining the protests.
“We will elect a president for whom justice and constitutionality is above all,” Stanke said and directly addressed Smer's candidate, Maroš Šefčovic: “Bad luck, we will not rely on your character.”
“The Constitutional Court is not yours,” Stanke told the “ladies and gentlemen of the ruling coalition”. The court must be open for the best constitutional lawyers that Slovakia has.
Farmers who made their way to Bratislava in the days leading up to the protest addressed the crowd too. They are supported by geodesists, veterinary doctors and foresters.
“We are here because our government covers up fraud and corruption in agriculture, which destroys us,” Magdoško said.
Representatives of scientists and NGOs also addressed the crowd from the stage.
Journalists: We are not going anywhere
The protesters also refused the proposed changes to the Press Code and instead called for better protection of journalists.
"We will continue asking if the investigation is independent," said Sme daily editor-in-chief Beata Balogová.
"We did not forget, we are are not going anywhere ," said Matúś Kostolný, editor-in-chief of Denník N. He reminded the public that one year after the murder, Robert Fico still calls journalists criminals.
Journalists thanked the crowd for their support and for not forgetting.
The Para band played their song, with Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo playing the bass guitar.
Kušnírová’s mother addressed the crowd in Košice
About 7,000 people attended the gathering in Košice, with Zlatica Kušnírová, the mother of Martina, and President Andrej Kiska being among speakers.
Zlatica Kušnírová thanked the crowd for coming. She talked about her last meeting with her daughter.
“I didn’t think about anything causing their deaths, even in my worst dreams,” she said, as quoted by the Korzár regional daily. “They were innocent children. We aren’t living anymore, just surviving. We must clean up this mafia state.”
Kiska does not think that the situation has improved much in the past year.
“I want to praise the investigators and police for the fact that, in all probability, we have caught the people involved in the murders and probably know who the murderer actually might be. We also know at least one person who ordered the murder,” Kiska said, as quoted by Korzár.
He added though that we had all hoped that the links would have been revealed by now and that he also understands that the investigators and law enforcement bodies need time.
“We expect the answers as soon as possible because there are still many questions,” Kiska added.
Starting at 20:20, the Kulturfabrik Tabačka is planning a 24-hour public marathon during which all the texts written by Kuciak will be read, according to the daily.