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Slovakia

Yearbook 2018

Slovakia. In February, investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kušnírová were murdered in a town east of Bratislava. The council came to shake Slovakia and force a number of politicians to resign. Kuciak had looked into embezzlement of EU funds that went to businessmen with suspected ties to the Italian mafia.

2018 Slovakia

A couple of government officials mentioned in Kuciak's review resigned, and the Minister of Culture resigned as a mark that he could not accept that a journalist was murdered during his tenure.

Several cities were kept awake after the murder. In Bratislava, tens of thousands gathered and demanded rapid investigation. President Andrej Kiska, who spoke at the meeting, wanted to see a government transformation and new elections. The demonstrations grew to huge protests against the government and corruption.

According to Countryaah.com, one of the coalition parties demanded the departure of Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňak. Kaliňáks was closely allied with Prime Minister Robert Fico and accused of corruption. Kaliňáks bowed to the pressure and resigned in March.

Fico found the situation difficult to control and offered to resign himself to resolve the crisis if his Social Democratic party Smer was allowed to nominate the successor. The president accepted, and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini from Smer became the new head of government. Fico remained as party leader for Smer.

The protests continued with demands that the country's police chief and the special prosecutor against corruption should resign. The prosecutor was reported to have handled 61 cases without prosecuting anything. The demands of the Chief of Police's resignation made the new Minister of Interior resign, and eventually the Chief of Police also announced his departure.

As new Interior Minister, Smer nominated a partisan politician, Denisa Saková, who worked close to the criticized Kaliňáks. It sparked new protests, and President Kiska wanted to stop Saková but did not have the power and she was appointed.

In May, one editor and four reporters from the state-owned radio and TV company RTVS were dismissed after signing a protest against political pressure in state-owned media. At least 15 reporters from RTVS who supported the criticism of the company ended in protest.

The journalist Kuciak's investigation of corruption had concerned, among other things, the embezzlement of EU subsidies to agriculture. In June, farmers with tractors drove into Bratislava, protesting that the government had granted businessmen with political contacts subsidies for land they did not own. The government appointed a group to investigate the fraud.

In July, the government decided that the NATO country's Russian-manufactured MIG fighter aircraft should be replaced with US F-16 aircraft and not Swedish JAS Gripen, which has long been seen as an alternative.

Russian nationalist MC gang Night Wolves with ties to President Vladimir Putin established himself in Slovakia during the year and raised concerns about the fight against the extreme right. The night wolves were reportedly recruiting Slovaks and holding military maneuvers with supplies from a war museum.

In the first half of the year, the country's GDP grew by about 4%, partly due to the automotive industry's exports. Slovakia is the world's largest car manufacturer in terms of population, and the manufacturers of VW, Kia and Peugeot were joined by Jaguar Land Rover during the year, which opened a factory with capacity for 300,000 cars annually.

In September, eight people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of journalist Kuciak and his girlfriend. Four of them were charged with deliberate murder. Media quoted a prosecutor that the murder of Kuciak was ordered for € 50,000 (just over SEK 500,000) and a forfeited debt of € 20,000. The client must have been a female interpreter to a Slovak multi-millionaire who has been examined by Kuciak.

In November, thousands of people protested against former Prime Minister Robert Fico's attack on journalists. 300 journalists wrote in an open letter that Fico's threatening words made them the target and appeared as a reference to the Kuciak murder.

The government coalition disagreed on whether Slovakia should sign the UN's new global framework for migration. Smere's party leader Fico led the opponents, who believed that Slovakia could be forced to bring in more migrants than the country wanted. Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák had chaired the General Assembly when the UN Pact was adopted, and he threatened to leave the government if Slovakia rejected it. Lajčák believed that the issue was kidnapped by populists, xenophobia and nationalists. In November, Prime Minister Pellegrini said Slovakia would not ratify the UN pact. Lajčák then announced his departure.

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