Good evening. The Monday, February 21, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia is ready with the main news of the day in less than five minutes.
Journalist and his fiancée killed four years ago
Slovakia is marking four years since investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were killed in their house in Veľká Mača (Trnava Region).
The double murder not only shocked Slovak society: in the years since, evidence exposed by the case has revealed how organised crime groups infiltrated numerous significant Slovak institutions.
Four years after the tragedy, justice has yet to be served regarding many of those who were involved, including the main orchestrator of the murders. The trial of Marian Kočner, who is accused of ordering Kuciak’s murder, could take months to complete as the Specialised Criminal Court, which is hearing the case, has merged it with another trial concerning the alleged attempted murders of two prosecutors and a high-profile lawyer. It starts next Monday, February 28.
On the occasion of the anniversary, The Slovak Spectator reviewed the cases, and the progress of the investigations into them. It also ran an interview with Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of the Aktuality.sk news website, for which Kuciak worked. He opined, among other things, that the politicians who won the 2020 election failed to use the emotion in society and put out the fire burning in the Slovak people after the murder.
Meanwhile, several events were held to pay tribute to Kuciak and Kušnírová. President Zuzana Čaputová, for example, visited their house in Veľká Mača.
“We are experiencing an increased wave of hate, anger and verbal attacks,” she said. “The physical attack on Ján and Martina was also preceded by verbal threats. We must stop this before it is too late, otherwise their legacy will have been in vain.”
Several other politicians, including PM Eduard Heger and Finance Minister Igor Matovič (both OĽaNO), laid wreaths on SNP Square, where a memorial for Kuciak and Kušnírová was revealed on Monday. The memorial has the form of a rift or an open wound. It was initiated by OĽaNO MP Kristián Čekovský and financed by the Ringier Axel Springer publishing house, to which Aktuality.sk belongs. The unveiling ceremony was attended by the parents of the murdered couple.
Apart from Slovak politicians and personalities, the International Press Institute (IPI) marked the anniversary.
“The IPI global network today remembers Ján and Martina, whose lives were viciously cut short,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “We will not forget them, and, together with the courageous media community in Slovakia, we will not stop fighting for justice. This case remains open until every single person who played a role in these murders is behind bars.”
Coronavirus and vaccination news
- 6,691 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 12,131 PCR tests performed on February 20. The number of people in hospitals is 2,566, and 12 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 50.65 percent, 2,816,230 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- The national emergency, declared in late November 2021, will end on Tuesday, February 22. The coalition parties Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Za Ľudí do not want to prolong it. The emergency situation, declared soon after the first coronavirus infection had been confirmed in Slovakia, stays in place.
- The coronavirus has been confirmed in most samples of sewage water. The regional public health authorities took altogether 493 samples by February 14, in cooperation with the operators of the waste water treatment plants, with 469 (or 95.13 percent) being positive or being close to threshold values. (TASR)
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Picture of the day
Renowned Slovak architect Ivan Matušík died at the age of 91 years. Among the works of the architect, whose creations are derived from functionalist traditions and stand for east modern architecture, and the laureate of several awards, including the Ľudovít Štúr Order 2nd class, are the Prior department store and the Kyjev Hotel on Kamenné Square, the Slimák department store, the New Market Hall on Trnavské Mýto and the Lafranconi swimming pool in the capital.
Feature story for today
The sector of business service centres (BSCs) has grown into the country’s third-largest industry when it comes to the number of people it employs and a significant contributor of funds to the state coffers. As the sector has developed, BSCs have moved far from their image of many people confined in crowded office spaces answering clients' requests or entering numbers into excel charts. Nowadays, an increasing number of people in the sector are highly qualified people performing sophisticated tasks in various fields and roles with a regional or even global impact, according to Martin Bednár, vice-chair of the Business Service Center Forum (BSCF), an organisation running under the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Slovakia.
Despite the changing perception, the representatives of Slovakia’s BSCs admit that they still struggle to make this sector more visible. This starts with such basics as the need to officially recognise the sector as a separate industry in statistics.
In other news
- A group of people arrived on Saturday at the block of flats in which 73-year-old MP Ján Benčík (SaS caucus) lives, entering the building, pounding on his door and calling him a traitor to the nation. Benčík reported the event on Facebook and filed a criminal complaint. The police were also dealing with the situation; similar incidents occurred in front of the houses where other MPs who supported the defence deal between Slovakia and the United States live.
- Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry recommends that Slovak citizens immediately leave some territories in Ukraine in connection with the worsening security situation there. This particularly concerns the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
- Altogether 67 out of 106 faculties of the public universities participated in the protest against the university reform currently discussed in the parliament, suspending teaching. One was Comenius University in Bratislava which, among other things, reportedly plans to move the election of its rector, usually held in the autumn, to the spring to avoid new rules.
- The registered unemployment rate in January 2021 amounted to 6.96 percent; up from 6.76 percent in December 2021, but down from 7.81 percent last January, as stems from the data presented by the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family. Analysts agree that the number of the jobless at the beginning of the year is usually increased by the inflow of seasonal workers to the labour offices. Other reasons include the Omicron wave and related limitations.
- The first mobile hydrogen fuel station in Slovakia was introduced on the compounds of the Arriva Trnava company. It will be used to refuel two passenger hydrogen cars procured by the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency to promote hydrogen technologies.
- Slovak skeet shooter Danka Barteková has been elected member of the International Olympic Committee again; after a six-month break. She received 75 out of 78 valid votes. (Olympic.sk)
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