News digest: Boris Johnson applauds V4 leaders for welcoming refugees

Poverty has a female face. Sanctions complicate the lives of Russians in Slovakia. Dutch troops' arrival confirmed.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. This is the Tuesday, March 8, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia, your daily news digest by The Slovak Spectator. Read the news of the day in less than five minutes.

Heger and fellow V4 leaders meet Boris Johnson

The prime ministers of the Visegrad Group countries met with British PM Boris Johnson in London on March 8.

"Together we have condemned the aggressive behaviour of Russia towards Ukraine. In the current situation we consider it key to strengthen the eastern border and lower energy dependence on Russia," Slovak PM Eduard Heger stated, adding that the five prime ministers were in "absolute agreement" on this.

Ahead of the meeting, Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter that he applauds the Central European partners "for their vital support to the Ukrainian people fleeing Putin’s abhorrent invasion and subjugation."

"We are clear in our mission – Putin must fail," Johnson concluded.

Russians in Slovakia are more cautious now

"The word 'Russian' being synonymous to 'bad' is alluring. But many of us living in Slovakia are here because we don't agree with what happens in Russia in the long run," a Russian woman living in Bratislava told the Sme daily.

Vladimir Putin's war and the sanctions western countries imposed on Russia subsequently make it hard for Russians living in Slovakia to see their families or send money to their relatives living back in Russia.

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The Sme daily tried to speak with several Russians living in Slovakia, but many do not want to talk and say they are worried.

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Parking rules have changed

From 1 March, only bicycles and motorbikes can park on pavements if road signs do not allow otherwise. While municipalities in general welcome this new rule introduced by the amendment to the Road Traffic Act, passed by parliament in late 2021, they complain that the amendment has not given them enough time to prepare for this change.

The new rule means that Bratislava, which has recently started introducing a city-wide parking policy, has lost about 2,500 parking places on first and second-class roads.

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War in Ukraine

  • The Netherlands will send the Patriot anti-missile system to Slovakia, along with 150 troops operating the system, Dutch Defence Minister Kasja Ollongren confirmed. (De Telegraaf)
  • Opposition party Hlas will support the presence of NATO troops in Slovakia if their mission is meant to defend the country and the alliance, said party leader Peter Pellegrini.
  • Czechia has received a request from Slovakia to deploy another 30 police officers to help with refugees at the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Since last week, 50 Czech officers have been working alongside their Slovak colleagues at the border. (čtk)
  • Volunteers working at the Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing in Ubľa are exhausted and need reinforcements. Volunteers, particularly Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking ones, are welcome to register here. (TASR)
  • The Liga za Duševné Zdravie mental health awareness organisation launched a free helpline in Ukrainian, offering help to people who fled the war in Ukraine, every day between 13:00 and 21:00. The number is 0800 222 450.
  • The war in neighbouring Ukraine might cost Slovakia up to 2 billion euros, said Finance Minister Igor Matovič on TA3 on Sunday.
  • The eastern-Slovak city of Košice is facing a humanitarian crisis due to the "rapidly increasing number of war refugees arriving to the city", the spokesperson of the city hall stated.
  • The Mutual Help Fund, which the Government's Office started in April 2020 at the initiative of then PM Matovič to provide relief to people economically hit by the pandemic, will be repurposed to provide aid to refugees from Ukraine. The fund has so far collected €700,000 and distributed €684,953 as of March 8. More information on who can contribute and who can request money here.

Coronavirus in Slovakia

9,819 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 16,760 PCR tests performed on Monday. The number of people in hospitals is 2,538, while 46 more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is at 51.23 percent. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.

In other news

  • Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party is calling on criminal prosecution bodies to classify the promotion of the letter Z, which Russia has been using as an expression of support for the war in Ukraine, as a crime involving the spread of extremist material. SaS MP Mrislav Ziak said that "Z" is an extremist symbol of war, inhumane treatment and suppression of fundamental human rights and freedoms. (SITA)
  • Biomethane production has been launched in Slovakia. The production is secured by the PM company, which plans to produce 80-85 MWh of biomethane near Jelšava (Banská Bystrica Region). According to the Slovak Gas and Oil Association, this step means the Slovak gas industry is getting greener.
  • Marian Kotleba is facing more charges, this time for the incitement of hate due to a video he published last year, in which he called for a protest against the pandemic measures and spoke of a "blockade of Bratislava". Kotleba published part of the charges on his Facebook page. He has already been found guilty on extremism charges, pending decision on his appeal.
  • The Slovak economy grew by 3 percent after a 4.4-percent drop in the first year of the pandemic. The GDP has not reached pre-pandemic levels. The year-on-year pace of growth has reached 1.4 percent in the last quarter, the Statistics Office reported. The numbers reflect the first estimate of the statisticians.

Featured story for today

Women in Slovakia earn up to one quarter less than their male colleagues.

While women's total average salary amounts to €1,323 gross, men earn €1,751 gross. The difference is €428, nearly 25 percent. This stems from a recent analysis of the website.

Quote of the day

"Poverty has a female face."

President Zuzana Čaputová cited that in Slovakia, women are much more threatened by poverty than men. Speaking on International Women's Day, the president said that women earn 18 percent less than men, make up the vast majority of single parents, and two thirds of employees working for minimum wage.

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