FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators take part in a protest rally marking the first anniversary of the murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in Bratislava, Slovakia, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/David W. Cerny/File Photo
April 11, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – A man charged with Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak’s murder has confessed to shooting him, Slovak public television RTVS and the aktualne.sk news website reported on Thursday, quoting police sources.
The killing last year of Kuciak, a reporter covering corruption, and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, sparked massive protests that led to the resignation of the prime minister, Robert Fico.
(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Slovakia’s Supreme Court is deciding whether to ban a parliamentary party for the first time in the country’s history.
The court listened Tuesday to a request that emanated from the country’s prosecutor general to remove the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia party because he considers it a threat to democracy. It is set to issue a verdict on April 29.
The party has 14 lawmakers in the 150-seat parliament and is among the top four strongest parties.
Its members openly admire the Nazi puppet state that the country was during World War II, use Nazi salutes, consider NATO a terror group and want the country out of the European Union.
Source: Fox News World
Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska speaks at the party headquarters of Slovakia’s presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa
April 3, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia’s outgoing president said on Wednesday he would form a new political party when his term expires in June, aiming to unite the country’s liberal, pro-European Union camps.
Andrej Kiska had not run for re-election but endorsed the eventual winner, Zuzana Caputova. A civic campaigner and anti-graft lawyer, her landslide victory last weekend encouraged the pro-EU liberals Kiska hopes to lead.
“Slovakia wants change. We won this election, now we have to win the general election,” Kiska said in a video posted on his official Facebook page. “I will start a political party, and I want to unite all decent and willing people and change our country for the better.”
The Slovakian presidency is largely ceremonial, but Kiska made it an influential office. He sided with protesters who mounted massive demonstrations after the killing last year of Jan Kuciak, a reporter covering corruption, and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova.
The protests led to the resignation of Robert Fico as prime minister. Fico’s ruling party, Smer, saw its support plunge after Kuciak’s and Kusnirova’s murders.
Political analysts said it was not clear whether Kiska, the country’s most trusted politician, with an approval rating of 57 percent, can unify the disparate opposition or will further fragment the centrist pro-EU, anti-graft camp.
An AKO agency poll of 1,000 people last month showed 9 percent of voters would certainly and 31 percent would probably vote for his party if he set one up.
Its natural allies, Caputova’s Progressive Slovakia, which runs on a joint slate with Spolu (Together) party, saw their joint support double since February to 14.4 percent. Caputova will quit her party in the coming days in a nod to a tradition that the president is non-partisan.
The leftist but socially conservative Smer saw its support fall under 20 percent for the first time in more than a decade. Support for anti-European, far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia rose to 11.5 percent in April from 9.5 percent in February.
(Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova)
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Slovakia’s outgoing president, Andrej Kiska, says he’s planning to create a new political party once his term in office expires in June.
Kiska, a successful businessman-turned-philanthropist, did not stand for a second five-year term in the largely ceremonial post. Liberal environment activist Zuzana Caputova was elected Saturday to the post as the country’s first female president.
In Wednesday’s announcement, Kiska didn’t immediately offer details.
His term in office was marked by clashes with populist former prime minister Robert Fico and his leftist party, a dominant political force that was tarnished by corruption scandals.
Kiska supported huge street protests that led to the fall of Fico’s coalition government amid a political crisis triggered by the slaying last year of an investigative reporter who was investigating possible widespread government corruption.
Source: Fox News World
Newly elected Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova arrives to attend a televised debate in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 31, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny
April 2, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – The election of anti-graft lawyer Zuzana Caputova as Slovakia’s president has boosted her liberal, pro-European Union party’s prospects in EU elections, against the grain of rising populism across the continent, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.
Caputova’s success has given a dose of optimism to Europe’s liberal camp ahead of the May elections, where eurosceptic parties are expected to make gains around the continent.
Her Progressive Slovakia (PS) party, which will run in the EU election on a joint slate with Spolu (Together) party, saw their joint support double since February to 14.4 percent, an AKO agency poll of 1,000 people conducted on April 1-2 said.
Neither of the two parties have any seats in the national or European parliaments at the moment.
If successful, the PS candidates would join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament while Spolu would join the European People’s Party (EPP).
President-elect Caputova said she would quit PS in coming days in a nod to a tradition that the president, who does not wield day-to-day power, is usually non-partisan.
On the other end of the political spectrum, the AKO poll also showed rising support for the anti-European, far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia which rose to 11.5 percent in April from 9.5 percent in February.
Its leader, Marian Kotleba, had also run for president and together with another anti-system, anti-immigration candidate, supreme court judge Stefan Harabin, clinched 25 percent in the presidential election’s first round last month.
The ruling leftist but socially conservative party Smer, whose candidate lost to Caputova in the run off vote on Saturday, saw its support fall to 19.7 percent in the opinion poll, under 20 percent for the first time in more than a decade.
Smer remains the biggest group in parliament but has seen losses since last year’s murder of an investigative reporter that triggered mass protests and led to the resignation of Smer leader Robert Fico as prime minister.
The three-party coalition Smer leads would lose its parliamentary majority after junior partners, Slovak national party (SNS) and ethnic-Hungarian Most-Hid, also lost support.
A national parliamentary election is due in a year.
Slovakia’s daily Dennik N reported on Monday that outgoing President Andrej Kiska, who endorsed Caputova before the vote, would announce the launch of a new party this week.
Kiska, who has been a staunchly pro-western voice in Slovak politics and has often clashed with Fico’s Smer, is Slovakia’s most trusted politician with an approval rating of 57 percent, according to a separate AKO poll this month.
(Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova, Editing by William Maclean)
FILE PHOTO: European Union and Slovakian flags are seen outside the Bratislava Castle (Hrad) ahead of an upcoming European Union summit- the first one since Britain voted to quit- in Bratislava, Slovakia, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
April 2, 2019
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Tuesday it suspended a Slovak tax on the food retail sector pending the results of an in-depth investigation into whether certain exemptions from the tax gave some retailers a selective advantage over their competitors.
The tax, which applies to food retailers that operate in Slovakia, entered into force on 1 January 2019 and the first payment would have been due by the end of April 2019.
“The Commission … issued an injunction, requiring Slovakia to suspend the application of the measure until the Commission has concluded its assessment under EU State aid rules,” the EU executive said in a statement.
Under the tax, food retailers would pay a quarterly tax amounting to 2.5 percent of their total turnover, but they would be fully or partially exempted if they fulfill one of several conditions on size, geographic scope of operation in Slovakia and/or type of activities.
Retailers in trading alliances or franchises would not pay the tax, even though their combined turnover is comparable to that of the largest retailers.
The Commission said the construction of the tax meant it would be paid only by seven food retailers, six of which were foreign-owned, and the only Slovak-owned retailer subject to the tax would have a significant part of its turnover exempted.
“The Commission does not question Slovakia’s right to introduce a tax applicable to the food retail sector. At the same time, the tax system should respect EU law, including State aid rules, and should not unduly favor a particular type of companies, for example, companies operating in a smaller number of districts or members of trading alliances,” it said.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski)
Slovakia’s presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova waits for the election results at the party’s headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny
March 30, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia’s ruling party-backed candidate Maros Sefcovic conceded defeat in the euro zone country’s presidential election on Saturday.
Sefcovic, a vice-president the European Union’s executive Commission, told reporters he had called his rival, liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova, to congratulate her on her victory.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
FILE PHOTO: Slovakia’s presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova speaks with journalists after a televised debate with her opponent Maros Sefcovic (not pictured) ahead of an election run-off, at TV Markiza studio in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa/File Photo
March 30, 2019
By Tatiana Jancarikova
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Riding a wave of public fury over corruption, liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova looked set to win Slovakia’s presidential election on Saturday, bucking a trend that has seen populist, anti-European Union politicians make gains across the continent.
Corruption and change have been the main themes ahead of the run-off vote, which takes place a year after journalist Jan Kuciak, who investigated high-profile fraud cases, and his fiancee were murdered at their home.
Caputova, pro-European Union political novice who would become Slovakia’s first female president, won the election’s first round two weeks ago with 40.6 percent of the vote, ahead of European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on 18.7 percent.
Sefcovic, a respected diplomat who is also pro-EU, is backed by the ruling party Smer, the largest grouping in parliament and which has dominated Slovak politics since 2006.
Caputova campaigned to end what she calls the capture of the state “by people pulling strings from behind”, a message that opinion polls show resonates with younger, educated voters.
Voting stations opened at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) and were due to close at 10 p.m., with results expected overnight.
“I was convinced by Caputova’s history. She knows what it is like to face injustice and she has always had the back of those who fought against the oligarchs,” said Zuzana Behrikova, voter at a polling station in Bratislava.
“I believe she will be able to resist the pressures that come with the position.”
Slovakia’s president wields little day-to-day power but appoints prime ministers and can veto appointments of senior prosecutors and judges.
Five people have been charged with the murders of Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, including businessman Marian Kocner, who was investigated by Kuciak, and who has become a symbol of perceived impunity after more than a decade of rule by Smer. Kocner denies any wrongdoing.
The killings ignited the biggest protests in Slovakia’s post-communist history.
Caputova waged a 14-year fight with a company Kocner represented that wanted to build an illegal landfill in her home town. She eventually won the case, earning her the nickname “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich”, after the American environmentalist famously portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 film.
‘WILL TO CHANGE’
“Slovakia is waking up, showing great will to change and hope linked to this and the following election,” Caputova said in the last televised debate this week, hinting at the upcoming European Parliament vote and the 2020 general election.
An opinion poll by Median agency, the only survey released between the first and the second round of voting, put support for Caputova at 60.5 percent. Sefcovic, who has campaigned on his experience and personal relationships with foreign leaders, held a 39.5 percent vote share, according to the poll.
Courting voters who backed anti-immigration candidates in the first round of the presidential election, Sefcovic has said he rejects the vision of an EU “where the distribution of migrants would be decided by someone other than Slovakia”.
The Moscow-educated politician supported the government’s opposition to mandatory migrant quotas suggested by the European Commission, where he is a vice-president.
Sefcovic, who joined the Communist Party in what was then Czechoslovakia just months before communism collapsed in November 1989, has stressed his Christian beliefs in the campaign. He called Caputova’s support for abortion rights and LGBT rights “ultra-liberal”.
“I chose Sefcovic because of his opposition to gay marriage and adoption,” said voter Juraj, 57, in Bratislava. “Family is the future of the nation. I don’t want gay people to be allowed to adopt children.”
(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Frances Kerry and Catherine Evans)
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Voters in Slovakia are selecting a new head of state in a runoff that could give the country its first female president.
Zuzana Caputova, an environmental activist, is up against European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in the vote for the largely ceremonial post in the nation of 5.4 million.
Caputova won the first round two week ago with 40.6 percent of the vote while Sefcovic was a distant second with 18.7 percent.
Caputova attracts voters appalled by corruption and mainstream politics. Sefcovic is a career diplomat who is supported by the leftist Smer-Social Democracy party, a major force in Slovak politics.
The winner will become the country’s fifth head of state since Slovakia gained independence in 1993 after Czechoslovakia split in two.
Incumbent Andrej Kiska did not stand for a second term.
Source: Fox News World
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators light up their mobile phones as they take part in a protest rally marking the first anniversary of the murder of the investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in Bratislava, Slovakia, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/David W. Cerny/File Photo
March 29, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – A Slovak deputy general prosecutor resigned under pressure on Friday over his contacts with the main suspect in the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, the second such departure in the high-profile case.
The murder of Kuciak, who wrote about political corruption and fraud cases and was found shot dead at home along with his fiancee in February 2018, prompted the largest protests in Slovakia since the end of Communist rule in 1989 and led to the resignation of its prime minister, Robert Fico.
General prosecutor Jaroslav Ciznar said his deputy, Peter Sufliarsky, had agreed to resign, effective Monday, after admitting to exchanging hundreds of text messages with the man charged with ordering Kuciak’s murder, prior to his arrest.
Some of the messages with the accused – politically connected businessman Marian Kocner – in which Sufliarsky discusses politics, were leaked by the media on Wednesday.
Kocner, who was the subject of some of Kuciak’s reporting, was charged earlier this month with ordering the journalist’s murder. He denies any wrongdoing.
Sufliarsky said on Thursday the communication was a mistake but denied cooperating with the suspect in any way.
Another deputy general prosecutor was fired in January for having had online contacts with a second suspect in the murder.
Public distrust in political leaders has kept attention on any signs that the murder was linked to ruling circles.
The killing has also been a major factor in a presidential election in which opinion polls show liberal political novice, Zuzana Caputova, favoured to defeat the ruling party’s candidate in a run-off vote on Saturday.
(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Frances Kerry)