News digest: The ministry recommends limiting travels to Ukraine

Slovaks found who to hold liable for Russia-Ukraine tensions. Slovak passport among the most powerful. More in today’s digest.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Monday, January 31, 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.

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NATO and the US blamed for Russia-Ukraine tensions

Slovaks believe the US and NATO are more to blame for the tension at the Russian-Ukrainian borders than Russia.

This stems from the Focus agency’s latest poll for private broadcaster TV Markíza.

The poll shows that 44.1 percent of respondents think that the US and NATO are to blame for the tension between Ukraine and Russia, while 34.7 percent say that Russia is the originator of the tension. The other 21.2 percent do not know.

The difference in attitudes is demonstrated when looking at the opinions of voters of various parties. While NATO and the US are to blame according to the supporters of far-right ĽSNS defectors united in Republika (90.3 percent), opposition Smer (78.6 percent), its renegades Hlas (54.1 percent), the supporters of the coalition parties have a different opinion.

Meanwhile, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry recommends Slovak citizens to limit their travel plans to Ukraine to necessary travels only, given the currently tense security situation in the country. At the same time, it does not recommend travelling to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east, to Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

People already in Ukraine are advised not to attend protests or stay in places where large crowds gather, the ministry added.

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For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia report published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.


Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 7,796 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 15,798 PCR tests performed on January 30. The number of people in hospitals is 1,547; and 13 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 50.86 percent, 2,797,234 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • People who test positive in the Omicron wave should pro-actively contact their close contacts, i.e. people they were in touch with within two days since the sample was taken or first symptoms appeared, as stems from a manual issued by the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ). The reason is that the regional public health officials are unable to trace all the contacts.
  • About one quarter of Slovaks could have antibodies after recovering from Covid, as stems from a research of the Unilabs Slovensko company that analysed 4,221 samples. Of them, 23.62 percent had positive or limit value. As for the regions, the Banská Bystrica Region and Žilina Region were hit the most, and the Bratislava Region the least.
  • The reimbursement of costs employers spent on mandatory testing of their staff members will be launched this week, the Economy Ministry said. The ministry is currently completing the form and technical support of the system.
  • Rules for crossing the Slovak border will be moderated from Friday, February 4, including the rules for the self-isolation and the length of quarantine. The Slovak Spectator will offer more details on changes tomorrow morning.

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Travel information

People travelling to Bulgaria will have to present with the EU Digital Covid Certificate, the certificate proving they were fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid, or a negative PCR/antigen test result from Tuesday, February 1. Incomers need to have at least one of these documents when boarding a plane, a train or a bus travelling to Bulgaria or when entering the country, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry announced. The duty will remain in place until March 31.


Picture of the day

Nearly 690,000 primary and secondary school pupils received their half-year school report today. They will enjoy the half-year school holiday on Friday, February 4.


Feature story for today

As soon as the non-profit organisation National Trust took over the administration of the historic Rómer’s House in the centre of Bratislava from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2014, in order to turn the house into its headquarters, they started organising volunteer work so they could start using it as soon as possible. Volunteers discovered a historical wooden ceiling from the 1970s under plaster in a ground-floor room. The plan of the National Trust is to return the ceiling to its original beauty by the end of this year and use the house for public activities.

Renaissance house in central Bratislava gradually reveals its secrets Read more 


In other news

  • The Slovak passport belongs to the top 10 most powerful passports, after it ranked ninth in The Henley Passport Index, which measures the strength of the passports based on how many countries and territories the passport holder can enter without a visa.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová has authorised Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) to ratify the Defence Cooperation Agreement with the USA. The Slovak delegation led by Naď and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) is expected to travel to the US, and ratify the deal on February 3.
  • General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka did not explain his recent business trip to Russia at the session of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, as there were not enough members to open it. He told journalists later that he did not violate any sanctions against Russia or any regulation. Žilinka is expected to participate in the session of the parliamentary constitutional and legal affairs committee, scheduled for tomorrow, as well.
  • Zuzana Baťová is finishing as head of the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL); she will be temporarily replaced by Peter Potúček as of tomorrow. She is leaving upon her own request, as the Health Ministry said. Baťová became a target of ex-prime minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) for her uncompromising attitude during the approval process of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, and even received the White Crow award for civic courage.
  • The opposition Smer party led by Robert Fico is catching up to Hlas, formed by the group of Smer defectors around Peter Pellegrini. It came second in the recent poll carried out by the Focus agency for private broadcaster TV Markíza, but the difference between the two parties is only 1.5 percentage points.
  • Firefighters had to intervene in as many as 210 cases to remove the consequences of the strong wind and bad weather that hit Slovakia on Sunday. The most serious situation was in Trnava Region and Bratislava Region.
  • More than 60 passenger trains operated by state-run carrier ZSSK will not be dispatched between January 31 and February 4 due to operational reasons, including the shortage of engine drivers and some technical problems at the Petržalka station. The highest number of trains will be missing on the route between Bratislava and Trnava, in both directions.

    One last note: The Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a first level warning against ground ice for all western Slovakia and selected districts of central Slovakia that will be in place from today, starting at 18:00, until tomorrow morning (at around 9:00). At the same time, people living in the northern districts of central and eastern Slovakia should prepare for strong wind, with a first-level warning being issued for tomorrow evening and all Wednesday.


More on Spectator.sk:

Slovakia is getting old fast Read more 

Who are the most attractive employers in Slovakia? Read more 

Stranger in a room: Klokoč Read more 


If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.

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