News digest: NATO considers troops in Slovakia

5,000 hospital beds available for Covid-19 patients. Bratislava Region suburban buses stay free in February.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Here is the Thursday, January 27 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

NATO considers deploying troops in Slovakia

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia worry Slovak politicians and security representatives.

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The security situation in our region is worsening, President Zuzana Čaputová said, referring to the build up of Russian troops at the Ukraine-Russia border, and talks between NATO and Russia.

“I feel very bad that despite our openness and continuing diplomatic efforts, which I consider the only good way of finding a solution to the current situation, talks in January with Russia did not result in lessening tensions; rather the opposite,” she wrote on Facebook.

After a two-day session of the Security Council of the State, Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) said that he expects the security council to meet more frequently given the situation.

Following a session of the foreign affairs parliamentary committee for which most of its members failed to turn up, he confirmed that NATO is considering a possible deployment of units in Slovakia.

Korčok emphasised that no decision on this has been made yet. This came after British television Sky News reported possible NATO plans to send units of 1,000 troops each to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.

The Defence Ministry said any decision to deploy foreign troops in Slovakia would need the approval of government and parliament.

Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 14,252 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 32,227 PCR tests performed on Wednesday. The number of people in hospitals stands at 1,506. There were 30 more deaths reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is 50.78 percent, with 2,792,799 people having received a first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • At present, Slovakia has 5,000 hospital beds available for patients with Covid-19, with the proviso that, if necessary, the number of beds can be increased to a total of 7,000, Zuzana Eliášová, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, said.
  • Elderly people who want to claim a financial reward for getting vaccinated against Covid, must be vaccinated by the end of January. The Health Ministry says there are currently 250 elderly people registered in the virtual waiting room for jabs.
  • Teenagers in Slovakia should soon be able to get a booster shot. The Health Ministry is preparing approval for the jabs as children vaccinated early last summer will soon lose their status as 'vaccinated' under rules on the length of Covid Pass validity.

Photo of the day

A hiker in the Slovenský Raj (Slovak Paradise) national park walks on the frozen Hornád River. However, the river is only partially frozen and therefore it is not possible to cross the part of the river in the national park on cross-country skiis or ice-skates.

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Feature story for today

Alica Frühwaldová, was born two years after WWII ended, never met any of her four grandparents. They were all killed during the war, when the Nazi-puppet Slovak state sent thousands of its Jewish citizens to extermination camps.

Read our archive story on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

She never met her grandparents, but knows how much love she lost in the concentration camps Read more 

If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.

In other news

  • More than 1,000 people gathered in front of the Presidential Palace on the afternoon of January 26 to protest against the defence deal between Slovakia and the United States, mandatory Covid vaccinations, and rising prices of food and energy.
  • Buses in Bratislava Region's suburban areas will remain free in February. The Bratislava self-governing region has waived fees for travellers as it looks to compensate them for a shortage bus connections after a change of operators for suburban routes.
  • Marián Magát, accused of extremism, will be prosecuted in custody, the Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok has ruled. The decision is not valid yet, as the Supreme Court will rule on a complaint by the accused. Magát was detained on Monday on suspicion of 37 acts of extremism.
  • The launch of the third unit of the Mochovce nuclear power plant has come a step closer. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority of the Slovak Republic has published documents for the issuing a second-instance decision for the launch of the third nuclear unit in Mochovce, bringing the loading of nuclear fuel a step closer.
  • Tax fraudster Ladislav Bašternák, who was released from prison on Wednesday, January 26, is facing another charge. According to the news website, the case concerns unauthorized VAT refunds in connection with the construction of the Bonaparte complex, in which former Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer) also lived. According to the website, three other people are facing charges along with Bašternák.
  • Inflation in Slovakia should peak at the beginning of the year as it closes in on 7 percent in January. In the coming months, inflation is expected to decline gradually to around 4 percent, and annual average inflation is expected to reach 5.7 percent this year. It should then fall below 3 percent in the coming years, said Peter Kažimír, governor of the National Bank of Slovakia.

Do not miss on today

Italian director set his fantasy films in Bojnice Read more  Slovakia’s flying car receives permission to fly Read more  Stress, anxiety and depression. The pandemic has affected more than Slovaks’ physical health Read more 

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