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Slovakia’s Powerful Interior Minister Bows Out

Political heads continue to roll amid the turmoil sweeping Slovakia in the wake of a journalist’s murder.

12 March 2018

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (pictured) announced his resignation today, saying, “Stability must be maintained,” reports.


Kalinak, a leading light of the ruling Smer-SD party, has taken the brunt of opposition criticism of the government since the killing of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak.


At the time of his death, Kuciak had been working with Czech and Italian journalists on the infiltration of Italy’s feared ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate into eastern Slovakia.


Bratislava protest 9.3.18Thousands of demonstrators flooded Bratislava’s main square on 9 March in one of the biggest anti-government protests since 1989. Image from Ficov kanal/YouTube


In his final article, left unfinished at his death, Kuciak reported on connections between Prime Minister Robert Fico’s assistant Maria Troskova and Italian businessman Antonino Vadala.


Troskova and another close Fico aide, along with the culture minister, resigned soon after police found the bodies of Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, at their home on 27 February.


Vadala and six other Italians were released from Slovak police detention on 3 March after being held for 48 hours without any charges being filed, VOA cited Slovak media as reporting.


Kalinak’s career has been peppered by unproven allegations of ties to suspected criminals, making him the focus of public anger since Kuciak’s murder, along with Fico, his longtime backer.


Anti-government protests peaked on Friday when an estimated 40,000 people in Bratislav demanded change. The demonstration was likely the largest in the Slovak capital since the 1989 “Velvet Revolution,” the BBC reported.


The largest opposition party, Freedom and Solidarity, reacted guardedly to Kalinak’s announcement.


“From the standpoint of purging public life of corruption and the mafia, Robert Kalinak’s resignation is completely insufficient. … Kalinak may be leaving, but his people remain, and with them all the disinformation in the police force,” the party said in a statement quoted by Dennik N.


Coalition partner Most-Hid (Bridge) had demanded Kalinak’s resignation in weekend talks with Fico.


The party today said it was glad that Smer “was able to make a personnel change in such an important post. It was necessary to calm the situation.”



  • Most-Hid, a centrist party that includes many members of the Hungarian minority, last week said Kalinak’s departure was the minimum it would accept, Dennik N writes.


  • The Kuciak affair also brought simmering tensions between the populist Fico and the country’s liberal president, Andrej Kiska, into open conflict. When Kiska called for early elections or a government reshuffle to resolve the crisis, Fico delivered a withering response, accusing Kiska of trying to destabilize the country and suggesting he was in cahoots with the Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros, a favorite target for nationalists in the region.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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