News & Analysis

Slovakian Anti-Corruption Protests ‘Largest Since Fall of Communism’

Tens of thousands of Slovaks took to the streets of the country’s capital Bratislava and more than 30 towns and cities around the country on March 9 to demand the government do more to investigate the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak. The protests were the largest seen in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989.

“Numerous corruption scandals, which have been left without consequences for years, an absence of basic political decency,” Diana Majdakova, a gallery curator who spoke on behalf of 288 cultural institutions, told the crowd. “These are all deep traumas for Slovak society. Enough.”

Mr Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were found dead on February 25. They had been shot. Mr Kuciak had been working on a story involving the dealings of the Italian mafia in Slovakia, which allegedly has high-level connections in the Slovak administration.

The protestors are unhappy at the way the Slovak authorities have handled the case. Some Italians with alleged mafia links were arrested in the days following the murder but were quickly released. No further arrests have been made.

Many demonstrators wore ‘All for Jan’ badges, while others held placards calling for Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to step down. Mr Fico responded to the protests by saying that they were being “directed from abroad.”

“Slovakia is a democratic country,” Mr Fico told reporters. “As premier, however, I would like to ask citizens to keep the peace, don’t allow potential provocations.”