News digest: As minority government looms, reforms and funds at risk

Slovak scientist on Ukraine nuclear plant fears, unique garden opens for public in Bratislava. Learn more in today's digest.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Here is the Thursday, August 11 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

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Scientist on Ukraine nuclear plant

On August 5, missiles hit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The attack raised fears of a possible nuclear catastrophe similar to the Chernobyl disaster.

In an interview, Slovak nuclear physicist Martin Venhart talks about what nuclear reactors are designed to withstand, what is most likely to happen if a radioactive leak occurs, and the best way to make the situation at the plant safer.

Read more here.

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Feature story for today

For weeks now, Prime Minister Eduard Heger has resisted a demand issued by the coalition party SaS to sack his least popular minister - Igor Matovič. But his decision to preserve his party’s unity might soon cost his government its parliamentary majority.

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The prime minister, who calls the demand “unrealistic” and accuses the party of attempting to bring down his government, is a member of OĽaNO, meaning Matovič is his party boss.

If Heger fails to secure a parliamentary majority from September, a number of planned reforms and billions of euros in the EU’s recovery fund, among other things, could be at risk.

PM Heger’s reluctance to fire his party boss comes at a price Read more 

Picture of the day

A prelate blesses the coffin during the funeral ceremony for Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

In other news

  • Weather forecast for Friday and the weekend from the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMÚ). Friday will partially cloudy, daily maximum temperatures will be between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. Saturday will be mostly cloudy, with daily temperatures between 26 and 31 degrees expected. Sunday will be partially cloudy, with temperatures peaking at 32 degrees.
  • The remains of Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko will be flown back to Slovakia by government plane on Thursday following various ceremonies in Rome. People will be able to pay their respects in Bratislava's St Martin's Cathedral on August 12 and 13, and then in Košice's St Elisabeth's Cathedral on August 14 and 15. The funeral will take place on Tuesday next week. Jozef Tomko died aged 98 on Monday.
  • An emergency has been declared in the village of Sútor, in the Rimavská Sobota district after it ran out of drinking water because of ongoing drought. Mayor Gabriel Lakatoš said the worst situation is in municipal rental apartments, which are home to 24 families. The village is not connected to mains water supply, and more than 600 inhabitants rely on their own wells for water. However, these have dried up due to lack of rainfall. Data from SHMÚ shows that more than half of Slovakia is experiencing extreme drought.
  • The Koch Garden in Bratislava’s Old Town - the only one of its kind in Slovakia - finally became the city’s property in mid-June. Prior to an extensive revitalisation planned for 2023 and 2024, the city is opening its gates to the general public on Thursday. People can visit the garden at the Koch Sanatorium between 14:00 and 20:00 during work days and between 10:00 and 20:00 during weekends. The entrance is from Bartoňova Street.
  • A traditional pilgrimage will take place at the Nitra Calvary this weekend to mark the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. An Orava calvary is also opening for the feast day.
  • On Wednesday, Slovak firefighters battling a forest fire in the Czech Bohemian Switzerland national park made an important airdrop from a helicopter into inaccessible terrain to bring hoses and a pump. The equipment would have been impossible to deliver with vehicles and too difficult to do so on foot. Slovak firefighters were sent to help their Czech colleagues at the end of July.
  • Police head Štefan Hamran has rejected criticism of police investigations from opposition politicians Denisa Sakova (Hlas) and Robert Fico (Smer-SD). Police are investigating Fico, who has been accused of founding and supporting a criminal organisation, among other things, and are also running a separate investigation into a mafia group that reportedly operated within the police under successive Smer governments. But Fico has repeatedly attacked the investigations, calling them politically motivated. However, Hamran pointed out that trust in the police is increasing with the latest surveys by the AKO poll agency shows that 62 percent of people trust the police, up from around 40 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, he said that so far a total of 17 people have been sentenced in various key cases, including former special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik.
  • Experts expect an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in autumn as people return from holidays, the next school year begins and events move indoors. But Chief Hygienist Ján Mikas said a return to the OTP (vaccinated, tested, recovered) regime is not expected.

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