Slovaks protest corruption, demand minister ouster
9 June, 2017
Thousands of Slovaks rallied in Bratislava last Monday to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of the interior minister over his ties with a developer under investigation for tax fraud, news wires reported. Chanting “Kalinak, resign” and “Leave our state alone” and carrying Slovak and EU flags, the protesters targeted Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, who has resisted pressure to step down over his business relations with real estate developer Ladislav Basternak. Kalinak has bought a 17% stake in one of the companies belonging to the developer. Both he and Basternak have denied any wrongdoing.
The protesters also demanded the resignations of police chief Tibor Gaspar and special prosecutor Dusan Kovacik for not doing enough to root out corruption. “Public sensitivity to corruption is growing and the PM has also reflected it in his activities as he has appointed a new head of an anti-corruption unit, but a symbolic closure is still missing,” political analyst Martin Slosiarik told Reuters. Monday's rallies follow a demonstration in April, when a file documenting possible bribery and allegedly compiled by the country's spy agency appeared online.
Slovak media estimated turnout between 5,000 and 10,000, making it one of the largest protests since PM Robert Fico took power in 2012. The protest against Kalinak, number two in Fico's Smer party, came as civic protests mushroom across Eastern Europe. Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic have seen large anti-government protests in recent months.