Good afternoon. The weekend is coming and we have prepared a quick summary of the main news of the day in our Friday, September 3, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
For weekend tips and reads, check out our Spectacular Slovakia weekly roundup. This week, Peter Dlhopolec reports on an Argentinean footballer playing for Slovakia and a documentary about a fired miner. Do not miss his tips for weekend events in Bratislava.
Criticism for barring journalists from attending a press conference
The decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office to only let journalists from selected media outlets join the September 2 press conference, at which General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka offered an explanation for the acquittal of several people, including ex-spy boss Vladimír Pčolinský, has had repercussions.
The editors-in-chief of two major dailies, Sme and Denník N, and the Aktuality.sk news website sent an open letter to the general prosecutor, claiming they do not understand why the office ignored the Press Code, which states that journalists have free access to information.
“If you were honest about building a more transparent prosecution office, your approach to our media is the direct opposite of that,” reads the letter, signed by Beata Balogová (Sme), Peter Bárdy (Aktuality.sk), and Matúš Kostolný (Denník N).
They objected to such an approach towards their media outlets and journalists, and called on the General Prosecutor’s Office to stop applying such a selective approach and “hiding behind the questions of critical media that are irreplaceable in democracy.”
The international organisation that advocates the rights of journalists, Reporters Without Borders, objects to such behaviour as well.
“Reporters Without Borders condemns an arbitrary restriction of press freedom contrary to the public's interest,” it tweeted.
Meanwhile, the representatives of ruling parties agreed at the September 2 meeting to create a working group that should prepare a change concerning paragraph 363 of the Penal Order, which allows for the extraordinary intervention of the general prosecutor. The group should be led by Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Za Ľudí) and composed of coalition party representatives and experts in penal law, the TASR newswire reported.
The changes are expected to be presented at the coalition council meeting scheduled for next Monday, September 6.
The Slovak Bar Association commented it is unacceptable to discuss a potential change to the law because of an unpopular decision that is otherwise legal. It considers such attempts at odds with the constitutional principle of the predictability and stability of laws, as reported by TASR.
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Picture of the day
Italian acrobatic group Frecce Tricolori flew above Bratislava on September 3. Spectators can admire this special form of art at Slovakia’s largest air festival SIAF this weekend at the Kuchyňa airport, near Malacky.
Listen to our Spectacular Slovakia podcast
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life,” Briton David Cartwright said about his choice to move to Žilina Region two years ago.
In the Spectacular Slovakia podcast, he claims Žilina has all he needs for life and it is a fantastic place to be.
Coronavirus and vaccination news
- 232 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 7,555 PCR tests performed on September 2, which is the highest daily caseload since mid-May. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 105. The vaccination rate is at 43.39 percent; 2,386,264 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- The group of experts that advises the Health Ministry has recommended shortening the self-isolation period for asymptomatic people from the current 14 days to 10. They also propose that people who can be tested with a PCR test on the 5th or 6th day after quarantine starts should end it on the 7th day if the result is negative.
- Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry recommends people travelling to Turkey have travel insurance that covers potential medical costs related to Covid-19. The reason is the number of new cases in the country has increased in the past few days and several tourists have tested positive.
In other news
- Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová and Icelandic PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir have initiated a call of political female leaders to support women in Afghanistan. They called on the current and future political leaders in the country to restrain from violence against women and to respect the rights of women and girls.
- German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier continued his two-day visit to Slovakia today. He met with Slovak PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee), discussing mutual cooperation, foreign policy and the current situation in Afghanistan.
- Slovakia’s gross domestic product rose by 9.6 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, which has been the steepest increase since late 2007, the Statistics Office confirmed. However, this rate is still 2.3 percent less than the corresponding period of the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Meanwhile, experts have warned of the impact of the third pandemic wave on economic growth in the coming months.
- Retail trade turnover slowed down to 1.5 percent y-o-y. It was partly impacted by the sale of automotive fuel; however, revenues were higher than they were in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to the Statistics Office.
- The construction of new flats increased in the second quarter of the year, with the number of completed flats growing by 17 percent annually. The number of construction permits increased by 69.1 percent, the Statistics Office found.
- About 30,000 people have registered for the mass that will be led by Pope Francis in Šaštín on September 15.
Tips for weekend reads on Spectator.sk:
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3. Sep 2021 at 14:21 | Radka Minarechová