Millennium Post

Slovak chaos

The murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, has, understandably, not just sparked widespread protests but also triggered a political earthquake in Slovakia that has led to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico. Kuciak was working on a story linking businessmen operating in the country with the Italian Mafia before his death. True, the life of an investigative journalist is often on the line especially when he is in the relentless pursuit of the truth. But this murder that has even rocked the EU by opening the proverbial can of worms on the political front. For more than a decade, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has been directing his country's political fortunes. He is described as a social democrat, but in reality, he is known to be a shrewd power tactician. But after this murder of Jan Kuciak, Fico has lost his feel for popular sentiment in the country. Initially, he seemed deeply and probably genuinely shocked by the murders. He then appeared on TV and offered a million euros in bundles of banknotes for the perpetrators' capture. Finally, he accused President Andrej Kiska, while also implicitly accusing hundreds of thousands of angry citizens who demanded his resignation, of being Hungarian billionaire George Soros' puppets. Fico has now returned to tactical manoeuvring. He offered the President his resignation, but only under certain conditions: His SMER party, which won the election in early 2016, must retain the right to nominate the new head of government. And the current coalition must remain in its present form. After briefly hesitating, Kiska has accepted the terms. As matters stand, there will be no new elections either. For all practical purposes, Fico is stepping down in order to stay in the background. He wants to secure his party's long-term political future. Many people in the country have realised that the murder of Kuciak and his fiancee in a way reflects "the Slovak reality," as Kiska put it. After Kiska faced little choice but to agree to Fico's conditions, the ball is now in the Slovak citizens' movement's court. In the last two weeks, Slovakia has seen the biggest demonstrations since its founding in 1993. Interestingly, Kuciak was working on a story linking businessmen operating in the country with the Italian Mafia before his death. He often reported on fraud among the country's elite, including people connected to the governing party. On February 28, published the last unfinished report Kuciak was working on before he was killed. The report identified people settled in Slovakia who have alleged connections to the Italian organised-crime group the 'Ndrangheta'. The journalist must have known what was coming but he was brave and conscientious.

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