News digest: Ukrainian anthem sounds in Slovakia's parliament

Government adjusts laws and earmarks money in anticipation of the arrival of large numbers of refugees. Slovak writer returns state award to Russia. Take a look at the front pages of Slovak newspapers today.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good afternoon. Here is a quick summary of the main news of the day in our Friday, February 25, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia.

How Slovakia is responding to the war in Ukraine

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How safe is Slovakia? During the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, bombs and missiles hit cities just 160 km from the Slovak border. Naturally, this gives rise to many questions about Slovakia's own security and the development of the situation in the coming days. How safe are we? What should people living here prepare for? How long will the war in Ukraine last? Here are some of the answers you may be looking for.

How to help. If you want to support Ukrainians, here are ways for you to do so.

Slovak politicians react to Ukraine: Most have unambiguously condemned the Russian aggression, but some in the opposition blame the US.

Slovak diplomats in Kyiv are trying to evacuate about 20 Slovak citizens from the Ukrainian capital, Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) said on Radio Expres at noon on Friday. They are using embassy vehicles or embassy staff to do this. The ambassador and some other staff are staying at the embassy. (Radio Expres)

Heger on sanctions: The package of sanctions that the EU has adopted against the Russian Federation is unprecedented. It will have a big impact on the Russian economy and Moscow will face a strong response, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OľaNO) said after an extraordinary summit of EU leaders to discuss the war in Ukraine.

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Expelling diplomats is on the table: Heger confirmed the Slovak government is debating the option of expelling Russian diplomats from Slovakia. He said these debates are taking place at the EU level as well. (TASR)

A writer's protest. In protest against Russia's attack on Ukraine, writer and translator Ján Štrasser has publicly renounced his Pushkin Medal, awarded to him by the Russian Federation in 2004. He received the award for his translation of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.”Unfortunately, Pushkin’s medal is also Putin’s medal: the certificate of its granting was signed by the President of the Russian Federation,” he wrote in a statement quoted by the TASR newswire.

Slovakia's health sector prepares to help. There are 31,000 beds in Slovak hospitals, of which 5,380 are reserved for the needs of the Slovak Armed Forces and NATO requirements, Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (an OĽaNO nominee) said on Friday, February 25. The minister called on the public to donate blood, too.

Laws adopted to aid the arrival of refugees. On Friday, the cabinet passed a bill allowing for the declaration of a state of emergency in the event of a large influx of foreigners into Slovakia. The laws should allow the cabinet to grant temporary protection. Parliament is currently sitting and is expected to approve the legislative proposals in a fast-tracked procedure. Its unscheduled session on Friday opened with the playing of the Ukrainian anthem (see video). The Ukrainian ambassador also addressed Slovak MPs.

Money set aside for Ukraine and Ukrainians. The cabinet allocated €13 million for measures in the event of a large influx of refugees from Ukraine, with the money aimed at helping the Interior Ministry bolster the IT infrastructure on Slovakia's eastern border and complete asylum facilities. It also approved €1 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Slovakia's air defence relies on Russia. That's a problem. Slovakia currently has 11 Russian MiG-29 fighter jets to defend its airspace – but, alone among NATO members, it relies on Russian technicians to keep them airborne.

For more details about the situation in Slovakia in response to Russian invasion, follow our website

Photo of the day

For weekend tips and reads, check out our Spectacular Slovakia weekly roundup. This week, Anna Fay writes about a special art exhibition on Roma people, an unusual walking tour in Piešťany and a timeless Slovak specialty.

Anniversary of the week

On February 28, 1914, i.e. 108 years ago, electricity replaced horses and steam as the driving force of trams in Košice.

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