Monday 19 March 2018

Slovak PM accuses president of destabilising country

It comes after investigative journalist Jan Kuckiak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were found shot dead at their home on February 25.

Candles left in tribute to murdered Slovakian investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina (Jakub Kotian/TASR via AP)
Candles left in tribute to murdered Slovakian investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina (Jakub Kotian/TASR via AP)

By Associated Press reporters

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico has accused the country’s president of destabilising the nation after the killings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Amid growing protests against his government, Mr Fico said in a televised statement “there’s no doubt” President Andrej Kiska had over-stepped the mark when calling for changes to the government and for early elections to resolve the “serious political crisis” in the country following the shooting of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova.

Mr Kiska said on Sunday the crisis gripping Slovakia was caused by declining public trust in the state.

In his last unfinished story before their bodies were found on February 25, Mr Kuciak reported on the influence of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and its possible ties to people close to Mr Fico.

Relatives and friends attend the funeral of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in Stiavnik (Bundas EnglerAP)

Mr Fico also suggested that Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros might be somehow involved in the destabilisation that he accuses the president of pursuing.

He said Mr Kiska and Mr Soros met privately in New York City on September 20 last year and publicly asked Mr Kiska to explain why he met Mr Soros, what they discussed and why he did not take any representatives of the Slovak Foreign Ministry to the meeting.

Mr Kiska beat Mr Fico to the presidency in a 2014 election.

Mr Kiska responded through his office by saying Mr Fico was using conspiracy theories to distract attention away from the crisis.

Meanwhile, Slovak protesters were planning to take to the streets again to demand a thorough investigation into the killings, as well as changes in government.

When tens of thousands of protesters marched on Friday to honour Mr Kuciak, many called on the government to resign.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, right, gives a media statement, with Minister of Interior Robert Kalinak, left (Bundas Engler/AP)

More demonstrations, this time directly aimed at the government, are planned this week – including a rally in Bratislava scheduled for Friday.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the organisers called on foreign experts to join the local investigative team and for the creation of “a new trustworthy government with no people who are suspected of corruption” or ties to organised crime.

The first anti-government rally was planned for Monday evening in the second largest city of Kosice.

A junior party in the coalition government led by Mr Fico is supporting calls by the opposition for Interior Minister Robert Kalinak to resign.

The leadership of the party known as Most-Hid will meet next week to discuss the coalition’s future.

Mr Kalinak is a key ally of Fico in their leftist Smer-Social Democracy party. Thousands rallied across Slovakia already last year to demand Mr Kalinak’s resignation due to a corruption scandal.

Press Association

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