News digest: The far right is falling apart

One person died after being vaccinated in Slovakia. Almost 2.6 million people tested so far.

Ondrej Ďurica (first left) and Milan Mazurek (second left) are among those leaving ĽSNS. (Source: TASR)

This is the Tuesday, January 26, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.

Far-right party loses six members

Five MPs and one MEP of far-right Kotlebovci People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) are leaving the party. Recently, they have criticised the changes to the status of the party’s leadership and some even left their posts of deputy chairmen.

Milan Mazurek, Ondrej Ďurica, Miroslav Suja, Eduard Kočiš, Miroslav Urban and Milan Uhrík criticised the chair, Marian Kotleba, for taking powers from the chairmanship, and concentrating them into his own hands.

First, they planned to continue as rank-and-file members, but after Kotleba responded that nobody “will be kept in the party by force,” they decided to leave.

Observers agreed that Kotleba made the changes to strengthen his position in ĽSNS. He has been sentenced to four years and four months in prison for handing in controversial checques with Nazi symbolism, but the verdict is not valid yet. The Supreme Court will soon hold an appellate proceeding. If it confirms the verdict, Kotleba will go to prison, but will most probably want to keep his influence over the party, according to observers.

Far right splits: prominent faces leave after Kotleba changed statute Read more 

PM's advisor left after criticism

Pavol Kalinský, former journalist of the public-service broadcaster RTVS, stepped down as the external adviser of PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO), following the media reports on how his civic association Pre Lepšiu Budúcnosť (For a Better Future) gained almost €400,000 from the Environment Ministry’s funds.

The ministry is controlled by OĽaNO nominee Ján Budaj. The opposition party Hlas called on Budaj to step down, while the junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) also voiced its criticism.

Budaj promised to check the selection procedure and the Special Prosecutor's Office will look into Kalinský's association to check suspicions of corruption or the misuse of money from EU funds.

Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) said that the legislation will probably change due to this case. The government is working on an amendment to prevent people collaborating with the government to draw EU money or finances from other schemes.

PM's advisor steps down after gaining European funds for his association Read more 

Coronavirus-related news:

  • The number of positive coronavirus cases revealed by the PCR tests rose by nearly 1,600 on January 25. Nearly 200 people died, while the number of hospitalised patients increased to some 3,300. See more statistics here.
  • People older than 75 years can now register for vaccination against the coronavirus. They can be helped by their doctors or relatives.
  • A 79-year-old man suffering from several chronic diseases died after being vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. The main cause of death was his illnesses, the autopsy confirmed. The mild side effects of the vaccination, such as fever and weakness, contributed to worsening his health condition.
  • Almost 2.6 million people were tested between January 18 and 25, and 30,556 were positive, which represents 1.18 percent. This stems from the preliminary results presented by PM Igor Matovič and Health Minister Marek Krajčí (both OĽaNO). The worst situation so far is in the districts of Topoľčany, Levice and Hlohovec, while the lowest share of positive tests was reported by the districts of Veľký Krtíš, Tvrdošín and Svidník.

Photo of the day:

Feature story for today:

Much of the contemporary political discourse here and elsewhere is taking place in a space not owned by the public, or even the speakers themselves. Facebook may be the most convenient place for Prime Minister Igor Matovič and Economy Minister Richard Sulík to conduct their petulant, emoji-littered exchanges, or for opposition leader Robert Fico to post his conspiracy-curious videos, but Facebook owns their posts, and can hide or delete them at a whim.

As importantly, it can – and does – deny access to anyone who chooses not to use Facebook.

The politicians will assert, with some justice, that ‘relevance’ demands they communicate online. But during the pandemic, many public institutions have taken to communicating important information primarily via Facebook rather than their own websites.

Read more in a column by James Thomson:

It was a long time ago and it never happened anyway Read more 

In other news:

  • New rules for the curfew come into force tomorrow, on January 27. Negative test will be required when going to work or doing sports in nature, and the police have promised stricter checks. Check out what else is changing.
  • Slovakia has received another batch of 2.8 million rapid tests, the Economy Minister said.
  • African swine fever has spread to Gelnica. It is already the 14th district in Slovakia where the infection has been confirmed.
  • One quarter of companies started to transform work positions last year due to the pandemic, in order to effectively use human resources. 10 percent of them dismissed their staff, while 9 percent hired new people. The main trend of last year was home office, according to a survey of Elanor Slovakia.
  • The Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMÚ) issued a second-degree warning against floods for the Michalovce district in eastern Slovakia, until January 27 at 10:00.
  • The date of the spring holidays will not change:
    • February 15-19: central Slovakia (i.e. Žilina Region, Banská Bystrica Region and Trenčín Region);
    • February 22-26: eastern Slovakia (i.e. Prešov Region and Košice Region);
    • March 1-5: western Slovakia (i.e. Bratislava Region, Trnava and Nitra Region).

There will be no holiday on February 1.

  • The parliamentary committee will hold the public hearing of the candidates for the special prosecutor post on February 1 and 2. The election date is not known yet.

Do not miss on today:

Company operating Tatras ski resort to dismiss 260 employees Read more 

Better hiking infrastructure for Bratislava locals during pandemic Read more 

Theme: Today in Slovakia

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