News digest: Travelling between Liptov and Košice continuous thanks to new highway stretch

Gastronomy sector asks the government for help. MP fined for taking a bath in High Tatras stream.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Thursday, October 28 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Uninterrupted highway connects central Slovakia and Košice

From midnight between October 28 and 29, drivers will be able to travel smoothly from Ivachnová to Košice, thanks to the opening of the south-western bypass of the city of Prešov in eastern Slovakia.

The construction of the almost eight-kilometer section of the D1 highway Prešov, west - Prešov, south, which also includes the two-kilometre Prešov tunnel, took more than four years and cost more than 356 million euros without VAT. The new bypass will shorten the commute by almost 19 minutes.

The original completion date was set for June of this year. However, according to the General Director of the National Highway Company, Juraj Tlapa, the work was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and had to be interrupted twice due to the failure of several workers.

"It was technically and technologically very demanding work, so I am very glad that it is finished," he said at the grand opening of the highway stretch, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Former PM was robbed but did not turn to police

While former PM and Smer chair Robert Fico was on holiday abroad this summer, someone stole from the Smer party’s headquarters in Bratislava gold coins and €50,000 in cash.

Fico described the situation in leaked videos from the hunting lodge where he met people connected to corruption cases. He noted that he did not call the police so he could avoid having to explain why he had so much cash in the office and that he was afraid that the police officers would talk about it with everyone.

Fico explained to the public that he does not trust banks and he gained part of his savings when selling equipment from his previous flat. The Denník N daily wrote that €50,000 is more than his yearly salary.

Even though Fico did not report it, two Slovak politicians have submitted a criminal complaint. Two other MPs, Ján Benčík and Radovan Kazda, filed a motion to the committee for the incompatibility of functions to check whether Fico should have mentioned gold coins in his 2020 property declaration.

“The explanation offered by the Smer chair for the ownership of such large amounts of money in cash and movable property does not correspond to his property declarations,” NGO Transparency International Slovakia wrote on Facebook.

Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 4,981 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 18,507 PCR tests performed on Wednesday. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 1,384 people. 20 more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is at 45.37 percent; 2,495,503 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • During the prolonged holiday weekend, travelling within the country is expected to increase. Experts, however, warn people against travelling, especially with public transport, due to the current epidemic situation, mainly to dark-red and black tiers.

Photo of the day

103 years have passed since the establishment of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918. President Zuzana Čaputová honoured the memory of Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk by laying wreaths at the monuments in Bratislava. She also sent a congratulatory letter to her Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman. She emphasised in it that the establishment of a common state of Czechs and Slovaks in 1918 was a fundamental event in the existence of both nations.

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Feature story for today

Under the current rules, abortions are legal in Slovakia up to the end of the 12th week of pregnancy, or until the end of the 24th week for health reasons.

Yet women who decide to get an abortion often struggle to find a facility that carries out the procedure. There is no official list of facilities providing legal abortions upon a woman’s request. Although some facilities state on their websites that they perform abortions, or have abortions listed among the procedures on their price lists, it does not necessarily mean they perform them.

Abortion is legal but comes with many obstacles. MPs now debate adding more Read more 

In other news

  • The regular, 48th session of the parliament has been adjourned until next Tuesday, November 2 because an MP from the OĽaNO caucus Lucia Drábiková has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • The economic sentiment indicator has fallen by 3.1 points to 97 points. Although the current value is significantly more optimistic than in the same period last year, according to the Statistics Office, it is still 5.5 points below the long-term average.
  • MP Romana Tabák (OĽaNO) was fined €500 for bathing in a stream in a highly-protected environment in the High Tatras. Tabák posted a picture of herself in the stream in the national park on social media.
  • European Commissioner Ylva Johansson confirmed to MEP Michal Šimečka that the European Commission (EC) will review the harsh penalties imposed in Slovakia for possession of marijuana and its medicinal use. The MEP initiated the request in September, and other MEPs joined him.
  • MP Ján Krošlák is no longer a member of the OĽaNO caucus. He asked to terminate his membership on Wednesday. There will now be 51 MPs in the OĽaNO caucus from the original 53, as Martin Čepček was expelled in the summer.
  • Representatives of the gastronomy sector call on the government to swiftly launch the effective measures that operators can access without complicated conditions. They point out that in black-tier districts, they can only sell takeaway or delivery.

Do not miss on today

The Mole made them popular. Bratislavans will sit on Prague benches Read more  Slovakia has its own 'tinfoil hat' punchline Read more 

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