Attempt to Dismiss Kalinak Should Be Resumed within Seven Days

Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, July 1 (TASR) – The extraordinary parliamentary session dedicated to an attempt to dismiss Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) from his post over his alleged involvement in the Basternak tax fraud case should continue within seven days, said Parliamentary Vice-chair Andrej Hrnciar (Siet/Network) after a meeting of the legislators’ gremium on Friday.

The parliamentary session was put on hold by Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko (Slovak National Party/SNS) on Thursday.

“The session will be reconvened in the next few days. It’s up to the parliamentary chairman, but I don’t think he’ll postpone it for more than seven days,” said Hrnciar, adding that he agrees with Danko’s move to suspend the session. “There was a threat of physical conflict. Some legislators wanted to tear down a poster that was put up by OLaNO-NOVA leader Igor Matovic, to which other MPs responded with threats of physical violence,” noted Hrnciar.

Concerning a potential bid by the Opposition to dismiss Prime Minister Robert Fico, Hrnciar said that Siet doesn’t have any reason to bring the Government down. “The Opposition has the right to such proposals, but any kind of vote against the premier would mean the fall of the Government, and we can’t let that happen,” added Hrnciar.

Chair of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) caucus Natalia Blahova described Friday’s gremium session as ‘fatally unproductive’ and pointless. Danko didn’t say when the session will be resumed. He supposedly needs to think about this before making a decision, said Blahova.

The gremium also discussed a change to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. The parliamentary Constitution committee is set to draft amendments, but the form of the changes isn’t known yet.

OLaNO-NOVA MP Daniel Lipsic conceded that the Opposition can imagine certain changes being made, but not when it comes to the content of banners displayed in Parliament. He said that when Smer-SD called former prime minister Iveta Radicova (2010-12) a liar, this was okay, but now that Kalinak is being called the same it’s not. “Giving the coalition power to decide which statements are offensive and which aren’t is a threat to parliamentary democracy,” thinks Lipsic.

Matovic stressed that freedom of expression also concerns visual props, adding that Danko is sending Slovakia back to the 1950s, when communists ran the country and decided on what could and couldn’t be expressed.

Matovic on Thursday set up a banner in front of the podium in the chamber. It displayed the faces of Kalinak and businessman Ladislav Basternak along with the slogan: “Decent people pay taxes, thieves live off them”. Danko called on Matovic to remove the banner several times, and when he refused to do so Danko suspended the session.