The murder of Jan Kuciak, an investigative journalist, resulted in thousands marching in Bratislava and various other Slovak cities. It was a form of protest for the killing, and a call for an immediate response from the government, as the country remained in shock.
Kuciak specialized in investigating connections between local politicians and businessmen in relation to tax and subsidy fraud. The 27 year old was to be married in May, and was found dead with his fiancé, Martina Kusnirova, in their home last weekend. Kuciak died before finishing his article on the suspected Mafia links in eastern Slovakia among Italian businessmen.
The report, published after his death by the Slovakian and international media, was meant to expose frauds and abuse related to the subsidies of the European Union. Corruption links to the Prime Minister Robert Fico’s office were pointed out, as one of the men named in the report, had past links with the people working there.
The three-party government of Fico was left shaken, as the death of the journalist coupled with the corruption allegations relating to the European Union, garnered an angry reaction from the people. Appeals for other countries helping out in the investigation and a call for the interior minister to be sacked, were made by one of the junior partners.
Temperatures of below zero in Bratislava, the capital of the country, did not deter protestors the numbered in the range of 10,000 to 15,000. One such protestor, 58-year old Jozef Belovic said that common people had to put up with dirty messes all the time and this was one of those instances.
People either marched in silence, or carried candles or the photos of the two victims under a banner that read “An attack on journalists = an attack on all of us”. The protestors were also joined by Andrej Kiska, the Slovakian President.
The capital’s rally was not the only such incident, as protests were carried out in other Slovakian cities and planned across other countries in Europe, including a gathering of hundreds of people in Prague.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the murder of Kuciak was the first to be reported in Slovakia and the fifth such case in the last 10 years in the EU. Kuciak mentioned several people in his final article, and a police investigation into his death led them to arresting seven such individuals on Thursday. The same names had been flagged in the past by an anti-mafia prosecutor’s office in Raggio Calabria, in southern Italy, according to Ansa, a state-owned Italian news agency.
Fico and his Smer party are under pressure, as the trail from the Kuciak’s report leads to them. The party has ruled for 10 of the last 12 years, and according to Grigori Meseznikov, the pressure is bound to increase as terms have been put forth for the resignation of Robert Kalinak, the Interior Minister.
The government has offered a reward of 1 million euros for information that can aid the investigation of Kuciak’s murder, despite the Prime Minister previously referring to journalists as “dirty, anti-Slovk prostitutes”.