This is your overview of news from Monday, June 29, 2020. The Slovak Spectator team is preparing the daily digest at the end of every weekday for free. To support the news you can trust, please consider to support our work by buying a subscription.
For a weekly overview with comments, take a look at the latest Last Week in Slovakia published this afternoon.
Kuciak’s murder trial: No interventions in the Threema app
Alena Zsuzsová, who is accused of mediating the murder of investigative reporter Ján Kuciak, who was murdered in February 2018 with his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, answered questions of the court and prosecutor for the very first time.
Many of her statements are unconvincing though, the Sme daily reported.
Another person who testified during the June 29 proceeding was a police expert in information technologies, Dušan Mikulaj. He disproved the claim that somebody was manipulating the messages sent via the Threema app found on the mobile phone of Marian Kočner.
“The file is consistent, and from the available information, I assume it was not changed,” Mikulaj said, as quoted by Sme.
Besides Zsuzsová, also Kočner, charged with ordering the murder, and Tomáš Szabó, accused of helping commit the murder, were present.
The proceeding was postponed to July 20, and another proceeding will be held on July 23.
Za Ľudí wants Kollár to go, Matovič still defends Kollár
The smallest coalition party Za Ľudí insists on Sme Rodina chair Boris Kollár resigning from his speaker of parliament post due to plagiarism allegations, said incumbent Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juraj Šeliga, adding that they respect that the post belongs to Sme Rodina.
At the press conference held on June 27, the first deputy chair of the party Veronika Remišová was missing.
“I had a planned programme,” she told the Sme daily, adding that her absence will have no impact on the decision of the party’s leadership.
Kollár, however, does not plan to resign. He insists on meeting legal conditions and has promised to stop using his academic degree while in the post.
“If somebody doesn’t like it, the law should be changed,” he responded to Za Ľudí’s claim, as quoted by Sme.
Meanwhile, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) defended Kollár, and criticised Za Ľudí for its demands. He refused to compare the incumbent speaker of parliament with his predecessor Andrej Danko (SNS), who had also faced plagiarism allegations.
In fact, it is the Slovak anti-plagiarism system that should be criticised, Matovič said at the political talk show Sobotné Dialógy (Saturday Dialogues), broadcast by the public-service RTVS.
Following the June 29 meeting between Kollár and OĽaNO caucus, the party announced that the whole case is a failure of the supervisor, student, opponent and the theses evaluation system. It has called on Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) and Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Za Ľudí) to prepare a law that will enable all theses to be checked for a certain period.
The draft should be prepared by September, said OĽaNO caucus head Michal Šipoš.
The party considers the case closed, the TASR newswire reported.
The Judicial Council has a new chair
The Judicial Council, a top judicial body overseeing the operation of Slovakia’s courts, has a new chair.
Ján Mazák, former president of the Constitutional Court, who also served as an advisor to former president Andrej Kiska, received 13 of 16 votes from the council members present at the June 29 session.
He will replace Lenka Praženková, who had resigned a week earlier.
With the election, the changes to the Judicial Council launched after the general election were completed.
In other news
- Only 62 COVID-19 tests were carried out on June 28, 2020. One was positive. See more detailed statistics here.
- Ex-PM Peter Pellegrini has announced the establishment of a new political party, Hlas – Sociálna Demokracia (Voice – Social Democracy). He will now collect the signatures necessary for its registration with the Interior Ministry. The party has the ambition of being the voice of social democracy that needs to be returned to the people, and has coalition potential, he said.
The party I’m introducing today needs to combine experience, expertise, and professionalism.„
- Police Corps President Milan Lučanský plans to resign on Tuesday, June 30, as the Postoj.sk website and the Sme daily reported. Lučanský took the post in June 2018, a few months after the murder of investigative reporter Ján Kuciak, replacing Tibor Gašpar. He was appointed by former interior minister Denisa Saková.
- Analysts of the commercial banks in Slovakia expect the economy to contract by 8.8 percent this year. This stems from a regular survey of the National Bank of Slovakia, country’s central bank.
- Miroslav Fikar, rector of the Slovak University of Technology (STU) in Bratislava, has called on the academic senate to express no-confidence in the dean of the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies (FIIT), Ivan Kotuliak. The situation at the faculty has reached the point where the solution cannot be postponed anymore, and STU representatives need to act. (TASR)
- Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) signed a notification confirming Slovakia’s intention to participate in the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) in Helsinki. “We also perceive in Slovakia that threats to our security doesn’t have to be of a military character, but often represented by cyber attacks, attempts to manipulate the public and the intentional spreading of misinformation,” he said. One of the priorities of the incumbent government is to strengthen the resilience of the state against these challenges. (TASR)
- President Zuzana Čaputová joined the Global Goal Unit campaign to support the treatment and development of the coronavirus vaccine, so that it is available to everybody. She joined other politicians like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary General António Guterres, and celebrities like Justin Bieber, Shakira, Miley Cyrus, and Coldplay. (SITA)
- The seasonally adjusted three-months moving average of the economic sentiment indicator (ESI) decreased in June 2020 by 7.4 points month-on-month to 64.8 points. It has been the lowest recorded value of the indicator since the beginning of the survey. The current decrease of the indicator reflects the fall of current sentiment, compared with the situation in March 2020, and before the introduction of precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus, declared by the SR government. Confidence mainly increased in industry and services in June, significantly in construction and slightly among consumers. In trade, it remained stable. ESI is currently lagging behind the long-term average by 38.5 points and behind the value of the corresponding period last year by 30.1 points. (Statistics Office)
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29. Jun 2020 at 22:32 | Compiled by Spectator staff