News digest: Fico charged with serious criminal offences

Former interior minister detained by police. Respirators will be dropped in most places.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Welcome to the Wednesday, April 20, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia, giving you the main news of the day in under five minutes.

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Robert Fico and his former interior minister Robert Kaliňák face serious criminal charges

Slovakia's longest-serving former prime minister, Robert Fico, and his former interior minister Robert Kaliňák are facing serious charges of involvement in organised crime.

As part of a police operation labelled Súmrak (Twilight), the National Criminal Agency (NAKA) detained Kaliňák, as well as lawyer Marek Para, who is well known for defending, among others, convicted mobster Marian Kočner.

Fico, who is an MP, cannot be detained unless the general prosecutor submits a formal request to do so, and has it approved by parliament.

The case is connected with the Očistec (Purgatory) case, in which the police have already charged several high-ranking former officials, including former national police chief Tibor Gašpar. The case also describes alleged attempts to control the police in 2012 through a group around Nitra-based oligarch Norbert Bödör, the Sme daily reported.

Fico, who resigned as prime minister in 2018, has branded the charges "political vengeance" and an attempt to get rid of him. He has also accused top government representatives of being behind the criminal prosecution against him.


Respirators will be dropped

People will no longer be required to wear FFP2 respirators on most occasions from tomorrow.

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Starting on April 21, the requirement to wear them when inside buildings, including workplaces and shops, and on public transport, will be dropped. They will not even be required when attending a mass event, held either outside or inside.

The only places where respirators will still have to be worn are nursing homes and medical facilities, including hospitals.

At the same time, the state is changing the rules for self-isolation of people who have been in close contact with those testing positive for Covid; they do not now need to isolate unless instructed to by a general practitioner.

People who test positive are still required to stay at home for at least five days, depending on whether they develop symptoms or not.


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More on the coronavirus and vaccination

  • 2,083 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 8,971 PCR tests performed on April 19. The number of people in hospitals is 1,156; and 17 more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate stands at 51.29 percent; and 2,820,896 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • The rules for cross-border commuters travelling to Austria have changed. They will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination against Covid, proof of recent recovery from the disease, or a negative Covid test result.
  • Slovakia should receive new vaccines by Pfizer adjusted to the Omicron variant from the summer, Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) said.

Picture of the day

People in Nitra like to compare their town to Rome because, like the Holy City, it is spread over seven hills. The highest and most prominent of the hills is the hill of Zobor, which is popular among tourists and locals.


Feature story for today

Several companies active in Slovakia support volunteers who help non-governmental organisations or join projects that aid refugees from Ukraine. Many expanded their corporate volunteering programmes, making it possible for their employees to join volunteering activities during working hours, or have come up with their own projects to help Ukrainians fleeing their homeland.

“We see that business representatives understand the specifics of the current situation and are ready to adjust their own abilities and internal regulations to contribute to solving the consequences of the war,” said Dominika Hradiská, the coordinator of volunteers in #WhoWillHelpUkraine, an online platform covering multiple forms of support, assistance and aid for people impacted by the war in Ukraine and forced to flee to Slovakia.

Designing websites or corporate volunteering. Slovak firms help Ukrainians Read more 

In other news

  • 3,213 people from Ukraine crossed the border with Slovakia on April 19, and 698 have applied for temporary protection. Since the war in Ukraine started, altogether 347,301 people have crossed the border, and 69,064 in total have been granted temporary protection.
  • Tomáš Unzeitig, who has experience of commanding foreign and international operations, has become the commander of the NATO forward presence unit in Slovakia.
  • The Prešov Regional Court cancelled a first-instance court decision ordering MP Milan Mazurek to pay damages of €20,000 to doctor Peter Sabaka for verbally abusing him. The case is not over yet. (Aktuality.sk)
  • The registered unemployment rate in Slovakia, calculated from the number of jobseekers ready to take a job immediately, amounted to 6.67 percent in March, down from 6.86 percent in February and from 7.98 percent in March 2020. The unemployment rate calculated from the total number of jobless amounted to 7.29 percent.

More on Spectator.sk:

Ukrainians are fighting for us in more ways than we realise Read more 

New hospital in Bratislava won't open fully till autumn 2023 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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