Good afternoon. Here is a quick summary of the main news of the day in our Friday, March 18, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia.
Bratislava bus chaos almost over
Bus company Arriva, which has been operating regional bus transport in the Bratislava Self-governing Region since mid-November last year, has said initial problems with its service have been largely resolved. It said that as of February, 98 to 100 percent of scheduled bus lines are running, and it therefore does not expect further fines from the Bratislava Self-governing region (BSK).
“We have met our promise, i.e. that the situation would be resolved over the course of March,” said László Ivan, general director of Arriva companies in Slovakia, as cited by the TASR newswire. “By the end of March we will be able to eliminate even small shortages and completely stabilise the system.”
The company also does not anticipate any more fines. It has so far incurred around €1.1 million in penalties for failing to send out buses.
More on the war in Ukraine
- Slovakia is suspending cooperation with Russia in science, research and exchanges for Russian students as well as with Russian state institutions. It will also not finance planned bilateral projects, Education Ministry State Secretary Ľudovít Paulis announced at a press conference on Friday.
- The Education Ministry will allocate a one-off contribution of €200 for each pupil from Ukraine attending a local primary or secondary school. There are 1,773 students from Ukraine in Slovakia at the moment.
- Ukrainians have had the opportunity to visit the zoo in Bratislava free of charge for two weeks, with more than 1,400 going there in the last week alone. From Saturday, March 19, they will only be able to do so on weekdays.
- Bratislava’s Old Town district will open two community asylum centres on Monday, March 21, for children from Ukraine and their relatives. One of the centres will be in Zichy Palace at Ventúrska Street and the second will be in Pistori Palace on Štefánikova Street. They will be open from Monday to Friday and visibly marked with the logo Ukraine Friendly Spot.
Photo of the week
The first stork has arrived in Slovakia. It was spotted in the village of Nižná Olšava in the Stropkov region in eastern Slovakia on March 13, according to reports from the TASR newswire. Almost 2,750 storks come to Slovakia annually.
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Feature story for today
When 17-year-old Marina Čarnogurská, having finished as a top student at one of the best schools in Bratislava in 1957, was told that she was not allowed to go to university, she burst into tears.
Her dream had been to study Bengali, but her father Pavol’s opposition to the communist regime in power meant she was denied the chance to further her education.
More than six decades later, she says is grateful for what happened then.
“What would I do with Bengali? Moreover, I would never have got to study Chinese,” the prominent Slovak sinologist, 81, says.
The ban on going to university was far from the only painful twist in her life, but looking back as she speaks to The Slovak Spectator at her home in Bratislava, she describes everything that has happened to her as being a single stream of energy guiding her to become a successful sinologist, a translator of Chinese philosophy and fiction, a writer of scientific works, and bringing about a meeting with her second husband.
“Everything in my life has had a purpose,” she says.
- 9,782 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 16,757 PCR tests performed on Thursday. The number of people in hospitals with Covid is 2,364. 303 more deaths were reported on Thursday. The vaccination rate stands at 51.25 percent. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- The Health Ministry is launching a process to reduce hospital debts. The ministry signed contracts with health-care facilities interested in participating in the scheme on Wednesday, March 16. Hospitals can vie for debt reductions of up to €575 million.
- Slovakia’s tax-levy reform, the so-called tax revolution, has been postponed, Economy Minister Richard Sulík said during TV JOJ’s politics programme Na Hrane on Thursday, March 17, citing the war in Ukraine for the move. An agreement on the reform was due to be reached by ruling coalition partners by June.
- The Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) party has seen the biggest rise in its support among political parties since the war in Ukraine, according to a recent poll by the AKO agency. But extremist parties Republika and People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) saw their support dip 2 percentage points. The poll was conducted for the political discussion programme Na Hrane on private Joj television and was carried out between March 8 and 11 with 1,000 respondents.
- The registered unemployment rate in Slovakia stood at 6.86 percent in February 2022, down by 0.1 percentage points month-on-month, the Office for Labour, Social Affairs and Family (ÚPSVaR) said on Friday, March 18.
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