Bratislava, February 21 (TASR) – President Zuzana Caputova honoured the memory of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova in Velka Maca in Trnava region on Monday, lighting a candle and laying flowers in front of the house in which they were killed in 2018.
“Four years ago, the majority of society united in demanding a decent and fair Slovakia. That demand still holds true even today,” said the president, noting that Slovakia has lately been experiencing an increased wave of hatred, anger and verbal attacks. “In the case of Jan and Martina, the assault was also preceded by threats. We have to stop this before it’s too late, or the legacy of Jan and Martina will be in vain,” said Caputova.
The president noted that the couple was murdered because of Jan’s work. “They were killed because Jan was dedicated to exposing corruption and abuses of power,” she explained.
The legacy of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova was also commemorated by coalition politicians on Monday, the fourth anniversary of their murders.
Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OLaNO) described Kuciak as an honest journalist who sought and uncovered the truth and wasn’t intimidated. According to the minister, his work has had a huge impact, even more so today. The loss of his life in the fight against corruption hangs over everyone as a reminder. “The wave of hatred fed by some politicians today is a frightening link to the past. Four years ago it was a journalist, in these days and weeks other groups of people are the targets of attacks, and simply because they are doing their job honestly. I want to reassure everyone that the police won’t turn a blind eye to attacks on journalists, health-care workers and, most recently, MPs,” said Mikulec.
Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad (OLaNO) declared that the Government won’t allow the mafia to return to power. “Days and years are passing, but the legacy of Jan and Martina calling for the truth remains a strong impetus for us to work for a better and safer Slovakia so that nothing like this ever happens again,” stated Nad.
The coalition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) considers Jan Kuciak’s murder to be a black day in Slovakia’s modern history. According to SaS parliamentary caucus head Anna Zemanova, Kuciak was a man who always sought the truth. “He was a journalist who knew the power of words and considered each one that he said and wrote. He wasn’t afraid of unpleasant situations, he wanted to hold the powerful to account. He spoke when others did not. Let’s not forget that,” said Zemanova.
Vice-premier Veronika Remisova (For the People) claimed that the deaths of Jan and Martina changed Slovakia. “The struggle for a decent Slovakia that Jan Kuciak started with his courageous journalistic work and paid for with his life, isn’t over. Today, four years after the murders of these two innocent people, our country is again at a crossroads. We’re witnessing the appearance of extremists as well as efforts to return to the criminal structures that Jan Kuciak stood in the way of,” commented Remisova.
Juraj Seliga (For People) agrees. According to him, the deaths of the couple were the beginning of a fight that continues to this day. He pointed to the intimidation of journalists and political opponents and called for such attacks to be rejected. “Jan Kuciak was a journalist who sought the truth, brought it into the public space so that people could see who governs them and how, in particular in terms of attempts to steal public money. At a time when so much misinformation, so many untruths and so much hatred is spreading, it’s our task to defend the truth steadfastly and firmly,” said Seliga.
Meanwhile, opposition Smer-SD party chair Robert Fico said that the murders of Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were politically misused. According to Fico, no deaths have been misused for political purposes as much in as this case, and no one knows yet who was behind the murders. “Only journalists and government politicians know this, repeating their lies about the responsibility of my government,” said Fico, who was prime minister when the couple was murdered.
The ex-premier compared the media’s approach to the current and former governments, pointing to the use of a double standard. “Let the anniversary of the murders of the journalist and his girlfriend be a reminder of the abuse used by journalism to fight the current opposition, a reminder of the total disgrace of journalism and proof that journalists and media owners are responsible for the condition in which Slovakia finds itself in 2022,” said Fico.