News digest: Slovakia pays for Russian gas in euros

A doctor filed lawsuits against MPs spreading lies about him. Government-approved anti-inflation help might not get support. Learn more in today's digest.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Here is the Thursday, May 19 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

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Scientists file lawsuits against MPs and people spreading lies

Doctors and scientists who were the faces of the vaccination campaign during the Covid pandemic were repeatedly targeted not only by people spreading misinformation, but by extremist Republika party MPs.

One of them, infectologist Peter Sabaka, has now filed lawsuits against Republika chair Milan Uhrík and MP Milan Mazurek. He started a fundraiser to help fund the lawsuits.

Many scientists expressed support for the doctor, whom Mazurek indirectly linked to the death of a boy whose doctor refused to treat him because his mother was not vaccinated. Moreover, the MP suggested he wouldn't have been surprised if the parents had taken matters into their own hands.

Sabaka wants €20,000 from Mazurek and €28,000 from Uhrík. He intends to use the money to aid medical facilities.

"I don't consider an apology to be adequate enough. I don't think it would have a deterrent effect on that person," Sabaka explains his reasoning.

Slovakia paid for Russian gas in euros

“Yes, I can confirm that we paid for gas in euros on May 18,” said Karol Galek, a state secretary at the Economy Ministry. Russia disconnecting Slovakia from gas is not on the table for now.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin had signed a decree saying foreign buyers must pay in rubles for the gas from April 1, and contracts would be halted if these payments were not made. Gazprom already cut off Bulgaria and Poland a few weeks ago.

Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) announced earlier this week that Slovakia would send euros to a euro account at Gazprombank, a Russian bank, where the euros would be converted into rubles, and the bank would send them to Russia’s energy corporation Gazprom.

According to Sulík, Slovakia buys about 85 percent of its gas from Russia. He advocates for a diversification of supplies but that is a matter of several years.

This is a political compromise. The European Union and Slovakia may claim to voters that they did not back down from the Russian aggressor, paying in euros, and the Russian regime may claim that Western countries paid for the gas in rubles.

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Refugees from Ukraine

  • 1,909 women, 756 men and 509 children crossed the Slovak-Ukrainian border on May 18. The overall number of refugees who have come to Slovakia since the war started is more than 436,000 and almost 77,000 have asked for temporary protection.
  • The Tatras Help Ukraine initiative launched a call centre, the goal of which is to help refugees from the country after the war broke out. The centre will connect various initiatives and organizations in the region and create a coherent and shared database. Moreover, the people behind the idea want to record the requirements and needs of Ukrainians and find a way to help them.
  • The Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry sent almost €2 million intended as a help for Ukrainian refugees.

Picture of the day

Former special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik during a hearing where he is trying to convince the Supreme Court of his innocence and to free him. He sent an appeal that consisted of approximately 1,000 pages. Kováčik was sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court to 14 years in prison for corruption, among other crimes, last September.

Feature story of the day

On Wednesday, the government approved several policies intended as anti-inflation financial aid to families, including the increase of tax bonuses for children, higher child allowances, and contributions for after-school activities.

The measures were supported by ministers from OĽaNO, Sme Rodina and Za Ľudí. Four SaS ministers, however, did not vote for the package proposed by Finance Minister and OĽaNO chair Igor Matovič. And it remains to be seen whether the MPs will actually approve it.

This could pose a problem for the coalition government. SaS chair and Economy Minister Richard Sulík threatened to veto the temporary Russian crude oil tax in the parliament.

Based on to the coalition agreement, the veto would mean that the SaS would block the proposal and the other three parties would not be allowed to discuss it further. According to Sulík, overriding the veto would, in turn, mean that his party will no longer have to bow to the coalition agreement.

The uncertain future of Matovič's package for families Read more 

In other news

  • In a reaction to the proposed government plan to significantly cut the budgets of municipalities, the city of Prešov is joining the Association of Towns and Municipalities of Slovakia (ZMOS) and going on strike. The city would lose almost €3 million. Various municipalities all over the country are limiting communication with the state.
  • The Health Ministry has suspended the validity of the gender reassignment protocol, just a few weeks after Minister Vladimír Lengvarský signed it, following criticism from conservative lawmakers.
  • The Defence Ministry obtained almost seven hundred spare parts to repair military equipment, including trucks, infantry vehicles and tanks. They were found in the storage of the State Material Reserves.
  • In deciding whether to get optional vaccination, a recommendation from a doctor is the most important factor for more than 75 percent of Slovaks. Most of the population does not have a clear-cut view on the topic, according to a recent poll carried out by the MNFORCE company, the Seesame agency and the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The poll also showed that the same percentage of Slovaks understand the purpose of preventive medical examinations and that people are more willing to see their doctor when they are summoned.
  • Firefighters from the city of Dubnica helped a deer that became stuck in an entrance gateway to a primary school in Ladce, Ilava District.
  • The city of Košice will modernize six public transport stations. It will cost more than €510,000, most of which will be covered from EU funds.
  • Police in Trnava introduced a scanning car equipped with eight cameras that will check vehicles in regulated parking zones.
  • The city of Trenčín has banned gambling. The city will lose some revenue.

More on

In reaction to the war, Slovakia makes hiring Ukrainians easier Read more  Government agrees on special Slovnaft tax Read more 

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