News digest: Slovak MEP runs for a top EP post, while the general prosecutor is criticised for Moscow visit

Michal Šimečka could become the highest-ranked Slovak in history in the European Parliament. Pressure waves from an eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano in the Pacific felt in Slovakia.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Monday, January 17, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia to catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes. We wish you a pleasant read.

Slovak MEP runs for vice-president of European Parliament

Slovak MEP Michal Šimečka could become the highest-ranked Slovak in history in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament will elect a new vice-president on Tuesday and Šimečka is one of three nominees of the liberal Renew Europe faction for the position, as the Sme daily reported.

No country is automatically entitled to the position of vice-president of the European Parliament, unlike the European Commission.

“The power of personality has the most weight, but also what agreement the factions have made,” said MEP and former chair of the representation of European Parliament in Slovakia, Robert Hajšel.

Šimečka is young and this is his first mandate in the European Parliament. His inexperience could put him at a disadvantage, but the European Parliament has witnessed similar career stories before, Sme reported.

Moreover, despite the fact that he is a newbie in the parliament, he is quite active. He was elected the vice-chair of the faction a year ago. He also became a rapporteur of the important proposal to introduce a new mechanism for the protection of the rule of law. This was a politically sensitive topic, especially with its relations towards Poland and Hungary, to which European funds should be withdrawn for breaking the principles of the rule of law. The proposal was eventually passed.

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General prosecutor signs an agreement with Russian counterpart

General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka and his deputy Jozef Kandera signed a plan of mutual cooperation for the years 2022 and 2023 with their Russian counterparts during their recent work trip to Moscow. They attended the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian prosecutor’s office, for which Žilinka has been widely criticised, mostly by coalition MPs.

According to the Slovak General Prosecutor’s Office, after it is implemented, the agreement will result in “balanced and constructive cooperation at an expert level.” The cooperation should be implemented in the years 2022 and 2023.

The cooperation applies to the fields of corruption, extremism, cyber-criminality, ecological crimes as well as the protection of dependent children and people with health disabilities.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee), who was also critical of the trip to Moscow, questioned the type of cooperation between the prosecutor’s offices and how it will help the activities of the Slovak General Prosecutor’s Office, during a talk show broadcast by the private Radio Expres on Monday.

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Coronavirus and vaccination developments

  • 1,015 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 4,940 PCR tests performed on January 16. The number of people in hospitals is 1,807; 52 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 50.46 percent, 2,775,192 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Altogether 8,969 children aged five to 11 have been vaccinated against Covid, according to the statistics of the National Health Information Centre (NCZI). More than 500 others are waiting for their jab in the online waiting room.
  • The Slovak Chamber of Nurses and Midwives has been complaining about the chaos accompanying the pay-out of the financial reward amounting to €350 gross, promised as a one-off financial bonus for medical staff members for their job with their December payslip. Some have not received the bonus at all, while for others it was inappropriately taxed, according to the chamber.
  • The European Commission has approved a Slovak state aid scheme worth €9 million for bus companies negatively impacted by the pandemic. The bus companies active in international regular and occasional transport, which reported a slump in their revenues between April 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and related measures, will be entitled to the aid.

Picture of the day

Belgian-British teenager Zara Rutherford, who hopes of completing her solo trek around the world as the youngest woman ever on the Shark ultralight plane from Slovakia, made a stop at the airport in Senica on January 15.

Feature story for today

Health experts have highlighted the benefits of vaccinating young children against Covid-19 as Slovakia starts jabbing kids aged 5-11. Vaccinations were opened to this age group at the start of the year, with the first doses given on January 6 in Bratislava.

Take-up rates have so far been mixed, with demand varying around the country.

The Health Ministry is expanding vaccination capacity for this age group nationwide, and it has ensured that enough vaccines are available for its programme in order “to continue seamlessly.”

Covid-19 vaccinations start for young kids as Omicron wave begins to hit Read more 

In other news

  • The Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok released from detention Nitra oligarch Norbert Bödör, who is facing several corruption-related crimes, citing the exceeding of time limits among other reasons. The decision is not valid yet as the prosecutor challenged the decision; the case will now be decided by the Supreme Court on January 20.
  • A court trial is beginning in the Chachaland case, in which the founder of a popular summer camp for children is facing charges of sexual abuse of a minor, on January 18.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová met with PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) and Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) for a working breakfast on Monday. They discussed several topics, including the Defence Cooperation Agreement with the United States and the pandemic. The defence agreement should be discussed in the parliament at a non-scheduled session tomorrow.
  • Hundreds of people met in front of the US Embassy building on Hviezdoslavovo Square in Bratislava on January 15 to protest against the Defence Cooperation Agreement between Slovakia and the United States. One of the protests was organised by former MP Peter Marček, who is now member of the far-right Republika movement; and several representatives of the party and even former judge Štefan Harabin took the stage. The police said the protest was calm.
  • Czech Speaker of Parliament Markéta Pekarová Adamová came for an official two-day visit in Slovakia. On the first day of her visit, she met with her Slovak counterpart, Boris Kollár, with whom she discussed rising energy prices, nuclear energy, the pandemic and the mutual cooperation between the countries, also as part of the Visegrad Group (V4). She will as well mett with Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok, President Zuzana Čaputová and PM Eduard Heger.
  • Most hotels in the High Tatras were full to 50-60 percent of their capacity during Christmas and Christmas school holidays, and some were able to fulfil their capacity to the maximum. As many as 90 percent of guests were Slovaks.
  • The pressure waves from an eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano, situated about 17,000 km away in the Pacific Ocean, were reported by several Slovak meteorological stations on the evening of January 15. The first wave, coming from the north at around 19:15, set the machines vibrating for more than two hours, while the second wave arrived seven hours later from the opposite direction, according to the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMÚ).
  • A protected gray wolf was killed under the Tatras; the police are now searching for the poacher. The person will be prosecuted for violating the protection of plants and animals, according to the police.

More on

Foreigners exposed to hate crimes can now seek help through new accredited service Read more 

Leaving a footprint: Veľký Choč Read more 

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