News digest: Harsh words spoken in Slovakia in response to Belarus

Slovakia’s representatives and journalists have responded to the recent developments in Belarus. Vaccinated people can ask for new vaccination certificates.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Welcome to the first redesigned edition of Today in Slovakia on Monday, May 24, 2021. The Slovak Spectator has updated its newsletters as part of a large graphic and content redesign at the Petit Press group. You can check out our newsletters and manage your preferences on your profile page.

In today's digest:

  • Slovakia responds to the detention of Belarusian journalist
  • Robert Fico’s activities help him gather votes
  • Situation improves, Slovakia has two yellow districts

For a more in-depth view of the week's events, check out the latest Last Week in Slovakia overview published earlier today. You can also sign up for the weekly newsletter with one click here.

Slovakia responds to Belarus

Several top representatives of Slovakia were critical of the recent landing of a commercial plane in Belarus due to an alleged bomb threat, after which the Belarusian authorities detained journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich, who faces a life sentence or even the death penalty.

“I condemn the forced landing of the civilian flight by the Belarusian regime under the politically motivated pretext of a terrorist threat,” Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) commented on Sunday night. On Monday, the ministry summoned the Belarusian chargé d’affaires and told him to convey “fundamental disagreement with this politically motivated step of the Belarusian regime regarding a false bomb threat claim that jeopardized the safety of more than 170 passengers, including EU citizens.”

President Zuzana Čaputová and PM Eduard Heger both expressed concern.

Several Slovak media outlets have issued a joint statement in support of Pratasevich and other Belarusian journalists, calling on the state and EU representatives to protect their colleagues in Belarus.

Fico’s activities help him gather votes

The recent media activities of three-time ex-prime minister Robert Fico seem to be helping him gain popularity among voters.

His Smer party has risen in the second Focus poll in a row, with the most recent one from mid-May showing Smer as the third strongest party in the parliament.

Most recently, Fico has accused the ruling coalition of having what he called “a system of snitches”, with the aim of destroying the opposition.

Fico even referred to a meeting between Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) and one of these detainees, Bernard Slobodník, former official at the National Criminal Agency (NAKA). He further implied that the recent meeting of Slovakia’s most powerful officials in a special room at the premises of the SIS pertained to the allegations.

Matovič replied that his meeting with Slobodník took place shortly after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, but said they have not met since.

Slovakia has two yellow districts

Starting on the morning of May 24, two districts on the map of Slovakia have turned yellow: Hlohovec and Topoľčany. This means that the anti-pandemic rules applied there are milder than in the rest of the country, meaning more people can attend mass or sports events or go to fitness centres and water parks.

Another 17 districts are in the orange tier, 47 in the light red tier and 11 in the red tier. Two districts, Myjava and Sobrance, remain in the dark red tier.

More Covid and vaccination developments

  • 19 PCR tests out of 1,167 carried out on May 23 came back positive (1.63 percent), and of 69,004 antigen tests, 324 (0.47 percent) were positive. Four more people died of Covid, increasing the total number to 12,296.
  • People who have been vaccinated before May 22 can now ask for a vaccination certificate via the website. Several people have encountered problems, for example that they have not received a verification code or that there is an error during registration. In such a case, the National Health Information Centre (NCZI) recommends calling the helpline and being patient if their call is not taken.
  • It is no longer possible to cancel your vaccination registration before receiving the second shot. Here is what to do if you need to cancel.

Picture of the day

Slovakia won its third match at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia, after defeating the team from Russia 3:1. It now leads the Group A with 9 points.

Feature story for today

If there were a list of the most lucrative real estate addresses, Bratislava’s Old Town borough would rank quite high; not only for its location, but also its very few free plots and opportunities for new projects.

Still, there are several examples in the downtown that seem to be defying logic.

Thousands of flats? The state is sitting on a fortune worth billions Read more 

In other news

  • Specialised Criminal Court Judge Ružena Sabová took entrepreneur Zoroslav Kollár into custody, as there is a concern that he could try to influence witnesses.
  • Three regional branches of the coalition party Za Ľudí have agreed on summoning a special party congress, due to dissatisfaction with Veronika Remišová as its chair. Two more meetings on this matter are expected tomorrow.
  • Nitra-based carmaker Jaguar Land Rover is another car producer that will suspend its production due to the lack of semiconductor components, with the temporary shutdown being effective between May 27 and June 4. The Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP) expects that temporary shutdowns do not have to significantly impact the economic results of carmakers.
  • 34,000 people visited accommodation facilities in Slovakia in March 2021, which is one quarter of the number of visitors in March 2020. At the same time, it was only one tenth of the number reported by the accommodation facilities in March 2019.
  • Nearly 650 representatives of the Slovak cultural sector and cultural institutions have sent an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other representatives of EU institutions, asking them to devote more attention to missing investments in the culture and creative industry when assessing the Slovak recovery and resilience plan.
  • Austrian railway company ÖBB has extended the network of its international connections with the night train between Vienna and Amsterdam. The new route may also be interesting for Slovak passengers. (Trend)

More on today

Secret meeting of top state officials hints at a problem in the police Read more 

Rebels, diplomats and innovators honoured as Slovak heroes in new book Read more 

Known and Unknown: Čutkovská dolina valley and Vlkolínec Read more 

If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at

Top stories

News digest: New travel rules become effective, more foreigners can sign up for vaccination

The appellate proceeding in the Kuciak murder case starts tomorrow. Travel map changes. Registration for Covid vaccine now open to more foreigners.

10 h
Jan Herak

Slovakia’s “me too” moment? OĽaNO MP quits parliament

Ján Herák faces a series of serious sexual abuse allegations, while a similar case hits a rising star of Czech politics.

14 h
Robert Fico surrounded by his Smer MPs.

Robert Fico's Smer has gained its best result since last summer (+graphs)

Several coalition parties struggle with support, unlike the opposition, according to the June poll by Focus.

18 h
Branislav Zurian

Charges against former elite police head dropped

The prosecutor found the decision to prosecute Branislav Zurian unlawful, unfounded and premature.

17 h