News digest: Food industry giant changes hands, new rules for travelling to Czechia

Interest in houses skyrockets. No more lack of syringes. Hospitals report record numbers of Covid patients.

Illustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is the Monday, February 22, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. For a deeper insight into current affairs, read Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.
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Three years since murder

Sunday, February 21, marked three years since journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were murdered in their home in the western-Slovak village of Veľká Mača. Their deaths launched a series of events that have profoundly changed Slovakia since.

The killer, his driver and a middleman were all convicted of the killing; but the people whom the prosecutor argued were the masterminds, Alena Zsuzsová and Marian Kočner, were acquitted in September 2020 by the Specialised Criminal Court. The prosecutor has appealed the ruling and is proposing new evidence, including digital records of Zsuzsová's heartbeat and texts.

PM criticises journalists on third anniversary of Kuciak murder Read more 

PM Igor Matovič used the third anniversary to criticise all Slovak journalists. He wrote that most of them are superficial and often biased and arrogant. He stated that when he proposed the creation of a fund supporting quality journalism in memory of Ján Kuciak and planned to allocate €10 million from the state budget for it, the editors-in-chief of most Slovak newsrooms declined to take part.

“Three years since the murder it is time to look the truth about Slovak journalism in the eyes,” Matovič wrote. “We can count the journalists that possess Ján Kuciak's qualities in Slovakia on the fingers of two hands – and that's an exaggeration,” the PM noted.

Penta sells its meat group

The Penta financial group agreed to sell the meat-processing group Mecom, which involves companies in Slovakia and Hungary, including the biggest Slovak meat processing plant, in Humenné.

American company Smithfield Foods has purchased the group from Penta. Both sides agreed that the sum of the transaction will not be published, pending the agreement of respective authorities in Slovakia and Hungary.

"Mecom will fit into our growth plan in Europe and complement our existing brand portfolio," said Luis Cerdan, Executive Vice President, Smithfield Foods Europe.

Coronavirus in Slovakia

  • As of Monday, 19 of Slovakia's 79 districts are in the black tier, where the risk of spread of Covid-19 is the highest: Bánovce nad Bebravou, Detva, Dunajská Streda, Galanta, Hlohovec, Ilava, Martin, Nitra, Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Partizánske, Piešťany, Revúca, Rožňava, Šaľa, Snina, Trnava, Žiar nad Hronom, Zlaté Moravce and Zvolen. See what rules apply.
  • The number of hospitalised patients hit a new high on Monday, when 3,672 people are reported as hospitalised with the Covid, while 347 are on lung ventilation.
  • PM Igor Matovič is convening a meeting of experts on the coronavirus epidemic, on Tuesday, to come up with new solutions for the alarming situation.

Opinion of the day

While international media often touts a wealthy, isolated country like New Zealand as a success story, we can’t all be sheep farmers in the South Pacific. There are probably more lessons to be learned from a relatively poor, complex, seemingly chaotic place like India. Think about it the next time you are lined up to take a meaningless antigen test, writes Ben Cunningham.

Beating the coronavirus does not need to be complicated Read more 

In other news:

  • Spring holidays for students and pupils in Košice and Prešov Region have started today. They will return to school - or online teaching - on March 1.
  • Beware of fake visits by census assistants and fake phone calls by census commissioners, the police warned. The assisted census will start no sooner than April 1, and census commissioners will only visit people on demand.
  • Almost 2 million inhabitants in Slovakia took part in the census the first week. More than 40 percent of Bratislava Region inhabitants have been counted.
  • Illegal migration decreased by 40.9 percent last year compared to 2019. In 2019, the police caught a total of 2,190 illegal migrants, while in 2020 it was 1,295. There was also a year-on-year decrease of 41.3 percent in illegal stays, from 1,977 in 2019 to 1,160 in 2020.
  • The state-run railway carrier ZSSK announces that new travel rules apply in the Czech Republic from February 23. All travelers on trains and other public transport vehicles will be required to wear a FFP2 respirator.
  • Interest in real estate, especially family houses in Bratislava, hit unprecedented numbers in January. Website traffic increased by 72 percent, compared to December 2020. The number of contacted ads tripled. Traffic to real estate websites reached 923,000 per week by the end of January.
  • The upcoming meeting of coalition partners will deal also with the opening of churches. Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina) called to discuss under what conditions could public masses reopen.
  • Prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Peter Kysel, will be deputy of Special Prosecutor’s Office chair, Daniel Lipšic. He is known from the Judas case, and he also applied for Lipšic’s position.
  • Branislav Gröhling wants to discuss the vaccination of teachers at colleges and universities with the Health Ministry. They could be vaccinated following teachers in primary and secondary schools.

Do not miss on today:

Smer MP dies at age of 59 Read more  Slovakia should have more than enough syringes for Covid-19 vaccines Read more  Swinging into the sunset in Kysuce Read more 

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