Slovak president calls for government overhaul after murder of journalist

Slovak president calls for government overhaul after murder of journalist
President Andrej Kiska (left) with EU Council President Donald Tusk.
By bne IntelliNews March 5, 2018

Slovak President Andrej Kiska has called for major changes in the government or even early elections after the country was rocked by the murder of a journalist investigating alleged links between the Calabrian mafia and the prime minister's office. 

Over the weekend Jan Kuciak and his fiancé Martina Kusnirova, who were assassinated the previous weekend,  were buried and on Friday around 20.000 came in Bratislava to commemorate the couple, according to organisers. Demonstrations also took place in other Slovak cities.

The police are working on the assumption that Kuciak was murdered because of his work. Seven people of allegedly Italian origin were detained on Thursday, March 1, in connection to the murder, but were set free after the statutory 48-hour period without being charged.  Police President Tibor Gaspar later stated that the police are also investigating other possibilities, without further clarification.

President Kiska said over the weekend that there are two options: either a fundamental reshuffle of the government or an early election. “I was waiting a week to see what political steps the government undertakes, what decisions it takes to ease the tension and restore trust. It seems there is no solution,” Kiska said. “Hatred is immense, mistrust unprecedented, and the feeling of an unjust state is almost absolute. I talked personally with Prime Minister Robert Fico about possible solutions for the serious political crisis. Sadly, our perception and views on possible ways out are different,” Kiska added.

Fico has accused the opposition and the president, an independent, of playing politics with the murders. He has defended the two members of his office who allegedly had links with the mafia, though they later stepped aside to clear their names. He has also refused to dismiss Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, long a lightning rod for the opposition because of his alleged links with controversial businessmen. 

"Our goal is the investigation of this brutal act," Fico said. "We won't dance on the graves of two young people, unlike opposition, media and, now, the president."

However, according to Dennik N, the leftwing premier's own party is beginning to come round to the need to sacrifice Kalinak.

Its junio coalition partner, the centrist Hungarian Most-Hid party, is demanding a ‘reconstruction of government’. “The party Most-Hid feels an immense tension in the society and is convinced that there has to be a reaction. Some other speeches and appearances of leaders of political parties didn’t help to solve the current situation,” the party stated. Most-Hid is meeting on Monday, March 12, to discuss its continued participation in the government.