Young activists fight for pro-European Slovakia


Karolína Farská sat in history lessons when her smartphone vibrated. A breaking news: The journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kušnírová were shot dead in their house. "That must be a hoax. Such a terrible thing can not happen in Slovakia ", Farská describes what she thought of on the morning of 26 February 2018. The 19-year-old student did not suspect during the lesson on the French Revolution that she will soon make history.

Niklas Zimmermann

But then the events unfolded: Farská and the then 27-year-old lawyer Juraj Šeliga became the spokespersons of the movement "For a decent Slovakia", which called for protests after the murder of Kuciak and his fiancée. In March 2018, the biggest demonstrations since the revolution in 1989 forced the then Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign. In Bratislava alone, 50,000 people took to the streets. Also on Sunday, when the Velvet Revolution marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the movement has announced a rally on Freedom Square. The goals are unchanged, according to Farská: A credible government and the full investigation of double homicide.

The act had shaken up Slovakia. A few days after the murder, Kuciak's last article was published, in which he wrote about mafia contacts in the office of the head of government. Fico was unstoppable when he discredited the protests and the reputation of the then Slovak President Andrej Kiska for political consequences as a plot driven by the American-Hungarian billionaire George Soros. Minister of the Interior Robert Kaliňák also had to go with him. A month later followed police chief Tibor Gašpar, on whose links to the Social Democratic governing party Smer-SD Kuciak had also written.

Ruling party stirs up fears

"If someone told me two years ago what we're going to achieve, I would have said, never!" Says Farská today. In October, the entrepreneur Marián Kočner, whose contacts with high-ranking politicians, especially the Smer-SD, were recently publicized, was formally accused of murdering Kuciak and Kušnírová. The Movement "For a decent Slovakia" is also pleased with the new Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová, who is regarded as the hope of the Liberals throughout Eastern Central Europe.

Now the attention of the general election in February, says Farská. Because until today governs a coalition headed by the Social Democrats – and Robert Fico is no longer head of government, but still party chairman. To be able to govern even after the election, he considers, according to observers, a collaboration with the fascist party L'SNS. "We want a pro-European and democratic government," says Farská. Fico and her potential allies, in their opinion, rely on fear and a culture struggle for abortions and registered partnerships for homosexuals.

Farská will also be at the rally on Sunday. At the moment she is not planning to go into politics, unlike her former co-spokesman Šeliga. In June, he left the movement and became one of the deputy chairmen of the new liberal-conservative party of former state president Kiska. The Slovaks were mobilized by the protests, says Šeliga, but substantial political change begins only in parliament. "As a member of parliament, and perhaps also in an executive function, I can introduce new laws."

The decisive factor will be the election in February

Martin Šimečka also considers the general election in February groundbreaking. "It can be positive, but it can also go wrong," says the journalist and former dissident. Thirty years ago, he fought for the transition from communism to democracy. Today Šimečka is cautiously optimistic: "Slovak society is developing very fast." He believes that the cultural struggle between populists and nationalists is less likely than in neighboring Hungary and Poland. It is too obvious that the self-declared defenders of the Christian tradition are concerned with power and not with ideology. He is worried, however, by the liberal and conservative opposition parties. Šimečka accuses some party leaders of egotism rather than willingness to make alliances. According to recent polls, several of the opposition parties could fail at the five percent hurdle. "If it goes wrong, it's her fault, too."

The Movement "For a decent Slovakia" admires the former dissident. "They repeat the model of the 1989 demonstrations", says Šimečka, emphasizing "the peaceful and understanding-oriented character". He is particularly pleased that demonstrations are also taking place in small towns. However, Farská and Šeliga emphasize that the dissidents of that time would have had a much harder time living in a totalitarian state.

Before the celebration of the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Sunday, "For a decent Slovakia" had to put a damper on it. Farská originally wanted to organize the biggest rally on the Slovak National Uprising Square in Bratislava, but the opposition politician Igor Matovič had already anticipated it and registered an event there. Although he is considered a hard prosecutor of corruption – but by his solo efforts as hardly capable of alliance.

. (tagsToTranslate) Ján Kuciak (t) Robert Fico (t) Andrej Kiska (t) George Soros (t) Robert Kaliňák (t) Tibor Gašpar (t) Smer-SD


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