Slovakians take to streets as PM’s resignation fails to stifle anger

Thousands of people gathered in Slovakia’s capital city Friday night to protest against the government and pay tribute to murdered Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak.

Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned Thursday after weeks of public protests over the slaying of the investigative journalist and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, who reported on fraud among the country’s elite — but many Slovaks are not convinced the desired political change will follow from Fico’s departure.

Protesters took to the streets of capital Bratislava from late afternoon Friday, rallying under the slogan “For a Decent Slovakia.”

Demonstrations were also planned in more than 30 other towns across the country — and in cities around the world, including London, New York and Sydney.

Protesters held banners calling for early elections and waved signs reading “Government Doesn’t Work” and “Enough of Fico,” according to Reuters.

Speaking to CNN earlier on Friday, journalist Peter Nagy, who helped coordinate the protests, said Fico’s resignation was not the answer to his country’s problems.

“Fico’s resignation is just a change of figures — Fico was very clear that he is not going anywhere and that we will continue to see him as an active political figure within the government.

“Fico’s resignation … does not bring change, but further undermines the trust of the people in the state,” Nagy said. “The new government will still have the same people within it, and many of these people have connections to corruption and organized crime.

“We believe that the only way for the public to regain trust in the state is to have new elections — people really feel that something needs to be changed.”

‘Troubling questions’ about safety of journalists

Kuciak, 27, and Kušnírová were found dead in Kuciak’s apartment in western Slovakia on February 26 with bullet wounds to the chest and head, respectively, according to the International Press Institute.

Kuciak reported on tax evasion and fraud among Slovak businesses, including people connected to the country’s governing party, Smer.

Censorship watchdog Index on Censorship called for a thorough and independent investigation and said the killings raised “troubling questions about the safety of media professionals in the European Union.”

On March 1, Slovak police said they had detained seven people in connection with the killings of Kuciak and Kušnírová. The people detained, who are between 26 and 62 years old, are believed to have ties to Italian organized crime, Police Corps President Tibor Gaspar said at a news conference that day, according to TASR.

On February 28, published the last unfinished report Kuciak was working on before he was killed.

The report identified people settled in Slovakia who allegedly have connections to the Italian organized-crime group the ‘Ndrangheta. It also linked these people to high-profile Slovaks, including some connected to Smer.

The government of Slovakia said it was offering a reward of €1 million ($1.2 million US) for information about the killing.