News digest: Big changes in the Slovak judiciary approved at the last minute

PM Eduard Heger is the most popular member of the government. President Zuzana Čaputová sends a clear message to Russian soldiers.

(Source: m.smedata.sk)

Good evening. The Wednesday, April 27 edition of Today in Slovakia is ready with the main news of the day in less than five minutes.


Slovakia has a new map of courts

The parliament approved major changes to the map of Slovak courts at its April session, just in time for Slovakia to request the first payment from the EU for its Recovery Plan.

MPs passed the law, known as the reform of the court map, on April 27.

Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (SaS), the author of the reform, sees this change as a step towards a better judiciary with a working system and clear agenda in Slovakia, even though some judges seem to disapprove.

The law was passed following a number of delays.


Government lacks trust among people

Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) has grown into the most trusted member of his cabinet among voters, according to a new poll, with voter trust in him rising since the war in Ukraine broke out.

Only one third of respondents, 33 percent, trust the prime minister. Heger became the PM on April 1, 2021, taking the position from Igor Matovič.

Moreover, as it stems from the poll, most voters do not trust ministers, and thus the government. Finance Minister Matovič (OĽaNO) remains the least trusted government member.


Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia :

  • More than 2,200 Ukrainians crossed the Slovak-Ukrainian border to return home on April 26. As many as 2,960 refugees arrived in Slovakia on that day. The Interior Ministry announced that 281 applied for temporary refuge on Tuesday.
  • The Ukrainians who have been granted temporary refuge in Slovakia can travel to other EU member states if they meet the conditions for entry to these countries. For travel outside the EU, they must hold a valid passport.
  • Ukrainians holding the temporary refuge status in Slovakia who decide to settle down in another EU member state, which grants them temporary refuge or other form of protection, will lose the temporary refuge status granted by Slovakia, the police explained.

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What to watch

President Čaputová appeals to Russian troops to lay down weapons

President Zuzana Čaputová has called on Russian soldiers in Ukraine to end what she called “this terrible war”.

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In the video, speaking Russian, she appealed to Russian soldiers and commanders to put an end to the war in Ukraine, saying that with each loss of civilian life, they are breaching military discipline and losing their honour.


Feature story for Wednesday

Pulling a glove on

The bell might be a sign that recess is over, but these pupils are not returning to their classroom.

At the Maximilián Hell Primary School in Štiavnické Bane, central Slovakia, they are about to hold a class attended by no other Slovak pupils, and probably none in the world for that matter: falconry.

The first pupil pulls on a glove and a falcon soars in, drawn by a piece of meat. The pupils take turns and no one is afraid. They say that they like learning from live animals instead of books.


In other news

  • A total of 1,395 people tested positive for Covid-19 in Slovakia on Tuesday, April 26. Eleven people died of Covid-19 on that day. The number of hospitalised patients with Covid fell to 901.
  • Slovakia is going to donate more than €2 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine.
  • EUSTREAM, Slovakia’s operator of the natural gas transmission network, has not recorded any problems with the supply of Russian gas, though gas transport from Russia via Ukraine to Slovakia has been lower than usual in recent weeks. It is in line with customers’ requirements, the operator said. The Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced that it cut off Poland and Bulgaria from Russian gas supplies.
  • Former prime minister and MP Robert Fico (Smer), who has recently been charged with allegedly committing several crimes, claims that he is being monitored by Military Intelligence. Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) has denied this.
  • The Mandate and Immunity Parliamentary Committee suspended its session, in which members were to discuss a proposal for lifting MP Robert Fico’s immunity so that law enforcement could prosecute him, on the afternoon of April 27. Fico labelled the session a “political process that is unbelievable and insane”. The committee should reconvene in the evening hours.
  • The Slovak parliament has approved new construction legislation. The new legal norms concern spatial planning and construction.
  • The Human Rights Parliamentary Committee approved four candidates for the post of commissioner for children: former MP Natália Blahová, psychologist Janette Motlová, Jozef Mikloško, who is the founder of a non-profit organisation, and Júlia Lindtnerová, who heads a council of parent associations.

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If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.

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