News digest: The Interior Ministry reports some unusual requests

Bratislava's historic Koch Garden opens to the public, more than 500,000 cars roll off Slovak production lines in six months, and the ruling coalition discusses its own future.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Welcome to the last news digest of this week. Read the news for August 12, 2022 in less than five minutes.

For weekend events and news on travel and culture in Slovakia, see the latest edition of our Spectacular Slovakia newsletter.

Exquisite Koch Garden in Bratislava’s Old Town opens its gates to the public after years of neglect

The unique Koch Garden in Bratislava’s Old Town district finally became the property of the city 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.

The Koch Garden used to be one of highlights of the popular annual Weekend of Parks and Gardens event organised by the National Trust, for which people queued for hours to take a peek into this green gem of Bratislava, Katarína Vitteková of the National Trust said.

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  • SCIENCE: Nuclear physicist Martin Venhart from the Slovak Academy of Sciences, asked to predict a worst-case scenario, foresees localised contamination, as occurred at Fukushima, rather than a Chernobyl-style explosion if the the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine were to be hit by missiles.
  • CYCLING: You too can conquer the longest cycling route in Banská Bystrica Region. The route is almost 90 kilometers long and stretches from Telgárt through the Hron Valley to Bystrá.
  • LITERATURE: In his debut book, ‘Moon over Sasova’, Christopher Shaffer writes about his teaching stint in Banská Bystrica in the first months of independent Slovakia.
  • STATISTICS: Is Slovakia the most expensive country in the region? The published figures don't match Slovakia's reality, analysts warn.

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Coronavirus news

  • In the soon-to-begin 2022/2023 school year, classes will operate as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic, i.e. without any major restrictions, Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) told a press conference on Friday. Masks will not be mandatory and only those who test positive will have to isolate. Headmasters will have the power to declare days off in the event of a major outbreak.
  • The Health Ministry does not yet count on vaccination against Covid-19 in large-capacity centres for now, as the capacities of vaccination centres near health facilities are currently sufficient. Vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant should be available in Slovakia in the autumn.

Anniversary of the week

Bratislava today marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Ignác Lamár, more familiarly known as Schöne Náci. A life-size statute in the very centre of the city recalls this unforgettable character, who was a beloved street presence thanks to his outfit and exceptionally good manners. He died in Lehnice, a village east of the city, in October 1967, where he was originally buried before his remains were moved to a memorial grave in Bratislava’s Ondrejský cemetery in 2007. There is a legend that if you take a picture under his top hat it may happen that you will remain single, as he did – but that you will smile like him all your life.

Feature story for today

Slovak video game company reports record revenues during pandemic

Many business owners do not recall the last three years as having been very easy. The coronavirus pandemic necessitated several strict lockdowns, thwarting plans and diverting customers.

One exception was the video games industry, which grew when people were isolated at home with no access to offline entertainment. Pixel Federation, the largest Slovak game development studio, took advantage of this opportunity, achieving record sales during the pandemic.

Picture of the day

In the Tatra National Park (TANAP), the first signs warning people not to feed wild animals have been installed in locations where tourists have been observed doing so. They bear the Slovak inscription “You are harming us by feeding us, and endangering yourself”. The national park plans to instal more such boards.

In other news

  • Igor Matovič will stay put as finance minister, the leadership and the parliamentary caucus of his OĽaNO movement have announced. OĽaNO has thus essentially disregarded the ultimatum issued by its coalition partner Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) in early July. SaS, which has four ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), said it would leave the government and the ruling coalition unless Matovič resigned as finance minister by the end of August. The leaders of the four coalition parties were set to meet this afternoon.
  • In the first half of the year, four carmakers in Slovakia produced 520,000 cars. This would appear to indicate that the recent trend of manufacturing around one million vehicles per year will be maintained, Ján Pribula, the Secretary General of the Automotive Industry Association of the Slovak Republic said, commenting on the results. He noted, however, that the third quarter significantly affects the number of vehicles produced every year, as plant-wide vacations are taken at this time of year at both vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers. Last year, slightly more than 1 million vehicles rolled off the production lines of carmakers in Slovakia. That was a slight year-on-year increase of some 4 percent. Slovakia thus continued to be the world's biggest car producer, in per capita terms.
  • The normal amount of oil is currently flowing into Slovakia and natural gas supplies have also stabilised, crude oil and natural gas pipeline operators Transpetrol and Eustream announced on Friday.
  • A request to take a photo of Bratislava from the roof of the historic building of the Interior Ministry, a call to clean the national flags that fly in front of it, and a request from a small boy to ride its paternoster elevator were among the more unusual requests that citizens have sent to the Interior Ministry, it reported this week.

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