News digest: Opposition parties and Slovaks protest against government
Best Slovak hospitals, a blunder from Hong Kong, and how to spend your Saturday in Bratislava.
- Dec 07 2023
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Good evening. Here is the Thursday, December 7 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.
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A day after the government approved major changes to the Criminal Code without prior discussion with experts, the opposition parties Progresívne Slovensko, SaS and KDH gathered outside the Government Office to protest on December 7.
One of the major changes is the abolishment of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, a body that has existed since 2004 and oversees the investigation of the most violent and serious crimes. As soon as the institution began to prosecute people with links to the previous Smer-led governments, Smer began to portray the body as biassed, threatened elite investigators and prosecutors, including Special Prosecutor Daniel Lipšic, and accused them of violating human rights.
“What we are experiencing is that [PM Robert] Fico is stealing the rule of law from us again,” said SaS MP Juraj Krúpa, as quoted by Aktuality.sk. More than 40 people from the past times of Smer convicted of corruption and other crimes prove that organised crime and corruption thrived under the rule of Smer.
On Thursday evening, several hundred people joined the opposition parties.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office should cease to exist in mid-January. The government also approved the reduction of penalties for corruption and economic crimes. All the amendments should be approved through a fast-track legislative procedure in the parliament before Christmas. The president, Brussels, experts and opposition politicians have criticised the government’s approach to the rule of law.
Some openly say that this is not about the Special Prosecutor’s Office, but about helping Smer-affiliated people, including charged Smer MP Tibor Gašpar who is a rumoured candidate for the secret service chief, out of trouble.
GP: On Thursday, General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka formed a working group to prepare for the upcoming changes. The office he currently represents has repeatedly applied Section 363 to quash criminal charges in high-profile cases, including one in which Fico faced charges in 2022. Lipšic has criticised Žilinka for this practice. It will be the General Prosecutor’s Office and regional prosecutor’s offices that will deal with the agenda of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
EP: The European Parliament will discuss the changes approved by Fico’s government next Wednesday, December 13. The vote will take place in mid-January 2024.
More stories from The Slovak Spectator website
- Media: A newspaper in Hong Kong published a pro-Russian opinion of a non-existent Slovak.
- Health: Which are the best hospitals in Slovakia?
- History: A bridge built in 1895 and named after Marie Valerie, the daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph.
- Transport: IC trains will no longer stop at the main railway station in Bratislava.
- Travel: A colossal cycling bridge runs over a major motorway in central Slovakia.
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FEATURE STORY FOR THURSDAY
Revisiting nuggets from Bratislava’s past
Why was the linden tree in Primaciálne Square cut down, and what is the truth about Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to Bratislava? The recently released book “History to Eat” will give you answers.
FREE BRATISLAVA EVENTS
Good Market in winter
The Winter Good Market will take place on December 9 in The Old Town. On the same day, the International Advent and Christmas Music Festival for choirs will be held in the capital.
In other news
- Culture Minister Martina Šimkovičová (SNS nom.) is said to violate laws because she continues to appear on her disinformation channel Slovan. Progresívne Slovensko has turned to one of the parliamentary committees to look into the matter. The minister promised to give a statement in the coming days.
- UniCredit Bank employees will go on strike from December 12 due to decreasing real wages. The management of UniCredit Bank will take measures to ensure the continuous operation of all branches without or with limited impact on clients.
- Czechs have long had a very favourable relationship with Slovaks and foreigners from developed countries. However, the acceptability of the Vietnamese has also increased significantly over the past decades. On the contrary, they have a negative attitude towards, for example, Arabs and Afghans, a survey by the Institute of Empirical Research STEM shows. (TASR)
WEATHER FOR FRIDAY: The weekend will start with a cloudy weather. You can expect light rainfall and fog in some places. The daytime temperature will range from -3°C to 2°C. (SHMÚ)
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