News digest: Justice Minister Mária Kolíková faces ousting attempt

More than 240,000 people waiting for Covid vaccine shot. Five Slovak citizens sentenced by the British court.

Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Source: TASR)

This is the Monday, May 10, 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.

For a deeper insight into current affairs, read our Last Week in Slovakia published earlier today:

A fresh start for the Heger cabinet amid same old coalition tensions Read more 

Justice Minister Kolíková faces ousting attempt

Mária Kolíková of Za Ľudí faces an attempt to remove her from the justice minister seat.

Initiated by the opposition, the session started on May 10. The Smer party and its chair, former three-time prime minister Robert Fico, have voiced suspicions related to several companies involving Kolíková’s family.

Fico has criticised one of them, Elektronika, where Kolíková’s brother is an authorised representative, for its agreements with public-service broadcaster RTVS and the Nová Scéna theatre. Kolíková used to sit on its board of directors, but left in 2016 when she became the state secretary (or deputy minister) at the Justice Ministry led by Lucia Žitňanská. Žitňanská was nominated by Most-Híd, which was in the same coalition as Smer at the time.

The Sme daily pointed out that Fico’s brother was benefiting from business with the state, too, when Smer was sitting in the governments.

Other suspicions concern the MK Real company, founded by Kolíková’s father, where she became a partner after her father’s death; or the rental of a building on Račianska Street in Bratislava where the Justice Ministry currently resides, as Kolíková’s brother was linked to a company renting it.

Kolíková has been clearly supported by Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Sme Rodina and Za Ľudí, even though some considered the first statement of the latter’s chair, Veronika Remišová, to be lukewarm. This was also given as a reason for Za Ľudí MP Andrea Letanovská, who left the party during the weekend.

Support from the biggest coalition party, the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), is not so clear. They said on May 7 that she had failed to clear all doubts related to the rental of the Justice Ministry’s building, and even its chair, Finance Minister Igor Matovič, was among those calling on Kolíková to draw consequences.

Still, Kolíková told the May 10 press conference that she feels “very strong” support from PM Eduard Heger and his government. She met with the prime minister the previous evening, and the cabinet expressed its support on the morning of May 10. Matovič was missing from its session, as Kolíková said.

Kolíková faces ousting. These are the suspicions voiced against her Read more 

Slovakia turns light red

Starting on May 10, all Slovakia switched to the light red tier, which brought further lifting of current Covid restrictions.

At the regional level, there are now two districts in the dark red tier, 33 in the red tier and 44 in the light red tier. The situation in the latter allows for the mildest measures and the opening of all schools.

As the current Covid automat alert system was prepared in a completely different situation in the second half of 2020, the cabinet is set to adopt its revision at its May 12 session. This includes a changing of the testing strategy, with the Health Ministry expecting to combine PCR testing with the antigen one, and analysing wastewater to uncover hotspots.

At the same time, the Ministry expects the third pandemic wave, predicted to arrive in autumn, to be milder than the second one.

The third pandemic wave might be milderRead more 

More Covid and vaccination news

  • The PCR tests carried out on May 9 revealed 311 new cases, out of 5,418 tested. Of 135,327 antigen tests, 288 were positive. 32 more people died, increasing the number to 12,051.
  • More than 240,000 people are currently registered in the virtual waiting room for the vaccines, with about 177,000 people aged 18-44 waiting for AstraZeneca and more than 76,000 aged 45+ waiting for Pfizer or Moderna. Experts are expected to discuss changes to vaccination tonight. (Denník N)
  • The Covid vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna can now be administered to people aged 45 and more.
  • It will be easier to travel from Slovakia to the Czech Republic. Mandatory self-isolation has been cancelled, but people still need to have a negative test result and register online.
  • The branches of national postal services operator, Slovenská Pošta, will follow original opening hours from May 10. They have cancelled the regular noon disinfection breaks.

Picture of the day

The city of Bratislava has completed the reconstruction of a fountain in front of the Presidential Palace on Hodžovo Square in Bratislava. The city has added, among other things, new LED lights.

Feature story for today

Despite a milder drop in state’s revenues from taxes and levies (expected to decrease by 2 percent compared with the originally forecast 5.7 percent), many local companies have seen their revenues drop due to anti-coronavirus lockdowns, resulting in lower VAT and income tax paid, according to tax experts. The state is meanwhile trying to find ways to make tax collection more efficient, and is working on long-awaited tax reform.

Find out more in our recent report:

Tax collection will not drop much. Labour market and economic growth help Read more 

In other news

  • President Zuzana Čaputová is visiting Denmark, where she met with Crown Prince Frederik and attended the Copenhagen Democracy Summit. She is set to meet with the country’s PM Mette Frederiksen tomorrow.
  • Five Slovak citizens have been sentenced to four to eight years in prison in the UK for human trafficking. They were members of an internationally organised group, which was uncovered as part of Operation Robotic in 2019, the police announced on Facebook.
  • Industrial production increased by 24.5 percent year-on-year in March 2021, driven mainly by car manufacturers. Since 2009, Slovak industry has seen more than a 20-percent growth only in May 2010, when companies based in Slovakia began to recover from the effects of the global financial crisis. (Statistics Office)
  • After a year-long year-on-year declines, the volume of construction work in Slovakia increased by 3.1 percent, while civil engineering works decreased by 18.6 percent. Production abroad increased significantly, with construction activities growing by almost one third annually. (Statistics Office)
  • Slovak slalom canoeist Matej Beňuš won silver medal in the men’s C1 event at the 2021 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships in Italy. At the same time, he qualified for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
  • Cyclist Peter Sagan placed 3rd in the third stage of Giro d’Italia. He moved to the fourth place in the points classification.

More on today

The Interior Ministry launched a pilot booking system Read more 

Virtual reading of police stories or wedding reception. Museums and galleries will open for visitorsRead more 

In the region of the lonely forest people: Starý plášť Read more 

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