Protesting Slovaks call for snap polls after PM Fico steps down

Braving the rain, tens of thousands of Slovaks took out protest marches in the capital Bratislava and several other cities on Friday for a ‘Decent Slovakia”, early elections and justice for slain investigative journalist Jan Kuciak.

Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová were shot dead by unknown men at his home in Veľká Mača (Trnava Region) last month. He was working on a story about possible links of Italy’s Ndrangheta mafia to corrupt local politicians.

The killings revived debate on corruption and press freedom and triggered massive anti-government demonstrations. The resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico (pictured right) on Thursday failed to douse public anger over the double murder.

Many Slovaks saw Fico’s resignation as a political show. They felt that even if such a move helps in defusing the present crisis, Fico will call the shots. The protesters called on coalition partners not to back the new government of Peter Pellegrini in parliament.

Protests were held in over 30 towns and cities across Slovakia on Friday. Thousands braved the autumnal drizzle as they marched through the streets chanting “Early elections!” and “Enough of Fico!”

Karolína Farská, one of the organisers of the protest in the capital, said the arrogance of a few powerful people cannot defeat them.

Addressing the gathering, former presidential candidate František Mikloško said the revolution started by parents has to be completed by their children.

Protesters greeted his speech with the ringing of the keys reminiscent of the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Former diplomat Ondrej Gažovic said he hoped a new government will ensure safety for its citizens and freedom to speak up when they see any wrongdoing.

Police say Kuciak’s death was “most likely” related to his investigation into alleged ties between Slovak politicians and Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Although they have questioned dozens of local and Italian suspects, no one has been charged with the killings.