Gorilla sends Slovaks back to the streets

For a Decent Slovakia protests continued in five locations around Slovakia.

Košice protest on October 18Košice protest on October 18 (Source: TASR)

The next For a Decent Slovakia protest was scheduled to mark the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on November 17, but the events of mid-October sent the public out onto the streets one month earlier.

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The protests were organised on the heels of the reported suspicions of corruption in Slovakia's justice system in recent weeks. First, the leaked Threema messages from the phone of Marian Kočner pointed to his dealings with former Justice Ministry state secretary Monika Jankovská. She and other judges and a prosecutor are now facing police investigations over the corruption suspicions.

On Monday, the recording of a conversation between Marian Kočner and former general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka suggests Trnka served Kočner, who in turn treated him as his subordinate and kept his bribe money for him. Two days later, the recordings of the infamous Gorilla file were leaked online by an anonymous agency, which many see as confirmation of the suspicions of the vast corruption of public officials that the Penta financial group was allegedly engaged in.

Thousands are reported to have attended the protest in Bratislava; hundreds took to the streets in Košice, Prešov, Trnava and Prievidza.

In Bratislava, the protesters marched from Hodžovo Square in front of the Presidential Palace up to the castle hill in front of the parliament building.

More demands

In the light of these recent reports, the organisers of the protests that have been taking place in the country since the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in February 2018 and that also forced Robert Fico out of the prime-ministerial chair, extended their list of demands.

They want the judges and prosecutors implicated in the leaked material to step down from their posts, calling them a disgrace to Slovak justice.

But the protesters are also calling for Robert Fico to leave public life altogether.

"It is highly apparent today that you will end your career in politics and go into the black oblivion of Slovak history, leave public life! Your social democracy project is a huge fraud against the people," the organisers wrote ahead of the protest.

Remembering the murdered

The Bratislava protest was also attended by the Czech investigative journalist Pavla Holcová who was a close collaborator of Ján Kuciak.

"I would like to stress that what is happening now, this renaissance of Slovakia is thanks to the fact that two people died here - Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. I would like you to think not just of them, but also of their families," Holcová said, as quoted by the Sme daily.

The parents of Ján Kuciak attended the protest in Žilina, the mother of Martina Kušnírová came to the gathering in Prešov.

A smaller protest, organised by the opposition Progressive Slovakia (PS), Spolu and Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), took place the day before in front of the house of Penta head Jaroslav Haščák and was attended by tens of people.

Several opposition parties, including the PS, Spolu and KDH, as well as Za Ludi, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Ordinary People (OĽaNO) and the OKS organised an outdoor screening of the Gorilla audio in front of the Government Office, with a few hundred people in attendance.

The next For a Decent Slovakia protests are scheduled to take place on November 17 and then in February 2020 to mark the second anniversary of the murder.

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