Thousands Flood Streets of Bratislava to Protest against Corruption

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Anti-corruption protest march at SNP Square in Bratislava on April 18, 2017 (photo by TASR)

Bratislav, April 18 (TASR) – Thousands of people converged on Bratislava Old Town on Tuesday for a march against corruption, expressing their dissatisfaction with what they see as one corruption scandal after another, with the perpetrators always evading punishment.

The route of the march led from Hviezdoslav Square via Jesenskeho and Sturova Streets to SNP Square.

According to estimates by both the organisers of the event and Bratislava city police, approximately 5,000 people attended the march, shouting slogans such as “the deed took place” [a reference to investigations into corruption cases often terminated with the conclusion ‘the deed didn’t take place’ – ed. note], “we want a better country” and “we care”. A number of public figures joined the march, such as actor Maros Kramar, who was asked whether he believes that the protest will change anything for the better. “I’m afraid not, and that’s the saddest part. If it did, though, I’d be extremely glad,” he replied.

The anti-corruption march was organised by two 18-year-old secondary school students – Karolina Farska and David Straka. They cite as their driving force the frustration of bearing witness to the constant squandering of money in corruption scandals and to politicians who disregard the voice of the public.

“We’re frustrated with the situation in Slovakia. This march is dedicated primarily to the fight against corruption. We as students want to stay in this country, but what’s happening discourages many [from staying]. The main reason why the country can’t prosper is corruption,” said Straka. Both students view the current state of affairs as unsustainable long term and a key reason fuelling the rise of extremism.

In their Memorandum, submitted to the Government Office earlier in the day, they demand thorough investigations into the ‘Basternak’ and ‘Gorilla’ cases and the dismissal of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak and Police Corps President Tibor Gaspar. Furthermore, they demand the resignation of Special Prosecutor Dusan Kovacik and the continuation of all prosecution activities regarding all deeds subject to the amnesty issued in 1998 by former prime minister Vladimir Meciar.

“Naively we hope that our voices will be heard. As this is a student initiative through and through, we hope that it will stir consciences within some people and work to set something in motion,” said Farska, underlining that the march was organised by students and not by any political party or politician.

In addition, Straka claimed that the organisers emphatically reject any form of extremism, violence and profanity, as they don’t agree with such expressions and believe that they might be detrimental to all honest people.