News digest: Lawyer admits bribery, military technology obsolete

If gas stopped flowing tomorrow, Slovakia would last until autumn. Slovak tennis player ranked in top 50. Learn more in today's digest.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. This is the Thursday, April 28 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

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Lawyer admits bribing former spy chief

Zoroslav Kollár has reportedly admitted to bribing the former head of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) Vladimír Pčolinský. Kollár, a lawyer, wants to make a deal with prosecutors on a plea bargain. Details as to what he has said are not known.

Vladimír Pčolinský had faced criminal prosecution over his alleged acceptance of a €40,000 bribe from Kollár in August 2020. The bribe was supposed to stop SIS officials from wiretapping him.

The charges against him stated that the former SIS director divided the bribe between himself and his then deputy head of SIS, Boris Beňa. The bribe was allegedly delivered by Ľudovít Makó. Beňa and Makó have since confessed to the crime, and testified against Pčolinský.

With the most recent reported confession, of the four allegedly involved, only Pčolinský continues to maintain his innocence.


Slovakia's military technology out of date

Most current military technology at Slovakia's disposal is obsolete, according to an assessment of Slovakia's defence forces in 2021. This includes an average of vehicles of 35 years, as well specialist technology of Russian origin.

Engineering, chemical and health, and electronic combat technology is also outdated, the SITA newswire reported.

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Most communication-information systems of the Armed Forces are not capable of cooperation with NATO. Slovak pilots are unable to obtain required levels of training due to a gradual deterioration of MiG-29 jets, according to the assessment.

The Defence Ministry claims that repairing this technology is both time-consuming and expensive, mostly due to shortages of spare parts.

Stagnation in improving the operational readiness of the Armed Forces was due to long-term problems with personnel capacity and the state of weaponry and equipment.


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Refugees from Ukraine

  • 2,052 women, 873 men and 643 children crossed the Slovak-Ukrainian border on April 27. The overall number of refugees who have come to Slovakia since the war started is 369,077 and 71,872 have asked for temporary protection.
  • A new poll by AKO poll agency for the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) showed that according to about three quarters of respondents Ukrainian refugees could be a help to the Slovak economy, provided they find jobs.

Picture of the day

The new Promenada Living Park shopping centre on the bank of river Nitra opened on April 28. The centre is home to 100 stores on two floors, including 20 restaurants and coffee shops, and 1,000 parking spots. Although not originally planned, the centre also has flats with a view of the castle.


Feature story of the day

Russian gas giant Gazprom halted its supplies to Poland and Bulgaria earlier this week, justifying the move by both states' refusal to pay for gas in rubles. It is now thought that Russian gas supplies to Slovakia may also be cut off around May 20, when Gazprom is due to receive payment for its latest invoice.

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) says the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) company will continue paying for gas supplies in euros as mandated by agreements between SPP and Gazprom, as well as recommendations of the European Commission.

Economy Minister Richard Sulík claims Slovakia has no outstanding financial obligations towards Russia, and that gas supplies remain stable although slightly below the long-term average.

"If gas stopped flowing tomorrow, Slovakia would last until autumn," said Sulík.

Slovakia could last until autumn without Russian gas. What are its options? Read more 

In other news

  • A total of 1,125 people tested positive for Covid-19 in Slovakia on Wednesday, April 27. Six further deaths from Covid-19 were reported. The number of hospitalised patients with Covid fell to 859. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • After more than three years, a Slovak tennis player is among the world's top 50 players. Alex Molčan is now ranked 46. At 24, he has a long future ahead of him and could move even further up the rankings. The last Slovak player in the top 50 before Molčan was Marek Kližan.
  • As of May, most people will no longer be eligible for free PCR tests. The Health Ministry also announced changes to the hospitalization of Covid-19 patients.
  • Bratislava's Old Town borough was given €250,000 as a gift from Taiwan. The money is intended as help for Ukraine. Half of the sum will be given to twin towns that asked for help, the rest to refugees in the Old Town borough.
  • Oil leaked from a Swedish ship near the Gabčíkovo waterworks. Dispatchers at the waterworks noticed the oil slick on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Ukrainian prisoners ask for a pardon so they can return to Ukraine and fight in the war. President Zuzana Čaputová has yet to make a decision on the requests.

More on Spectator.sk:

The Turiec hiking "massacre" - and how to complete it Read more  Even with Fico in custody, Smer may retain popular support Read more  Foreign workers returning to Slovakia 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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