News digest: Fico's government paves way for purge of NAKA investigators
The male-dominated world of Slovak millionaires, Christmas tram is back, and no change to energy prices next year.
- Dec 06 2023
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Good evening. Here is the Wednesday, December 6 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.
New law to deny police whistleblower protection
On Wednesday, the government approved an amendment to the Whistleblower Protection Act which will stop such protection being provided to members of the Police Corps.
Moreover, those police officers who have already been given the status will lose it as soon as the amendment enters into force.
The move allows Robert Fico's cabinet to complete a purge of National Crime Agency (NAKA) investigators centred around investigator Ján Čurilla who uncovered thriving organised crime under previous Smer-led governments.
They received their protected status as whistleblowers in the middle of October when it became clear which parties would form the current government. The status was approved by the Special Prosecutor’s Office and expires three years after a prosecution is halted.
Fico has long questioned the work done by police investigators.
Shortly after the government formed, Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok suspended 7 investigators centred around Čurilla. However, according to recent court rulings, four have been allowed to return to work.
The cabinet wants parliament to deal with the motion on the amendment in fast-track proceedings. The amendment also allows an employer of a whistleblower to appeal against the status, and reduces the scope of its protection by directly linking it with the employer's activity.
Lawyer Peter Kubina, who represents the group of prosecuted investigators, says the amendment is anti-constitutional.
MORE STORIES FROM THE SLOVAK SPECTATOR WEBSITE
- POLITICS: Explainer: What courts say about suspended elite police investigators.
- AEROSPACE: Slovak space industry lifts off after ESA membership.
- BUSINESS: Number of Slovak millionaires rises, but the world of the richest remains male dominated.
- BRATISLAVA: Christmas tram is back on the streets of Bratislava, no ticket required for the ride.
- CHARITY: Unveiling the heart of international connections: A chat with the IWCB president.
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FEATURE STORY FOR WEDNESDAY
An extended childhood - thanks to dolls
Ukrainian Svetlana Martynovskaya rediscovered the craft of sewing dolls during her pregnancy 13 years ago. Since then, she has been improving her techniques.
Martynovskaya has made around 400 rag dolls to date. Each is different, the dollmaker says. What she can’t quantify is how much time she spent on those 400 dolls, as she says she loses herself in space and time when sewing them.
EVENT FOR THE COMING DAYS
Italian cinema proudly presents
Starting on Wednesday, the Kino Mladosť cinema is hosting the 21st edition of the MittelCinemaFest 2023, a film festival dedicated to the best movies from Italian cinema in any given year. Between December 6-9, two movies will screen in the cinema. Get tickets here.
IN OTHER NEWS
- The provision of contributions for accommodating Ukrainian refugees will be extended until the end of March 2024. However, the contribution will be lowered to €12 per night for each person over the age of 15 and to €6 for each child up to 15. The regulation will take effect as of January 1, 2024. (TASR)
- Energy prices for households and selected vulnerable customers will not change next year. Distribution fees will be capped at the level of 2023 for the business sector as well. (TASR)
- Checks on Slovakia's border with Hungary will be extended until January 22, 2024.
- NGOs plan to reach out to the European Commission over steps taken by the government of Robert Fico (Smer). In an open letter, Via Iuris, Transparency International Slovensko, Zastavme Korupciu (an anti-corruption organisation) and INEKO voice their concerns that the stability of democracy and the rule of law in Slovakia have been put in jeopardy. (TASR)
WEATHER FOR THURSDAY
Overcast, with snow in many places. In southern parts of the country, occasional rain and snow expected. Daily temperatures will rise to between -2 °C and 3 °C. Level 1 snowdrift, snowfall and ground ice warnings have been issued for many districts, see map here. (SHMÚ)
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