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Slovakia: Politicians can't avoid Fascist rioter turned provincial governor

Bratislava, Slovakia, 10.1.2014 0:34, (ROMEA)
This collage of images of the
This collage of images of the "People's Party Our Slovakia" leader Marián Kotleba shows him wearing something very similar to the WWII-era uniform of the Hlinka Guard, the militia maintained by the Slovak People's Party in the period from 1938 to 1945, when Slovakia was a client state of Nazi Germany. (Collage: Romea.cz)

High-level politicians in Slovakia are grappling with the unpleasant problem of how to manage their relationships with Marian Kotleba, who was elected provincial governor of the Banská Bystrica Region last November. While they previously labeled the leader of Slovakia's radical right an extremist and a rioter, they are now trying to figure out how to handle unavoidable future moments of contact with him.

The Czech News Agency reports that the Slovak daily Sme says Kotleba was the only regional head invited by Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič to a state awards ceremony Wednesday. Kotleba is infamous for his statements against Romani people and for organizing anti-Romani assemblies in Slovakia.  

The 36-year-old leader of the People's Party-Our Slovakia (Lidová strana-Naše Slovensko, or LS-NS) makes no secret of his sympathy for the wartime Slovak state, which was under the influence of Nazi Germany. According to Slovak sociologists, Kotleba received votes from those particularly disappointed with politicians, whom they believe are not addressing poverty and the "Romani problem."

Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Community Affairs Peter Pollák will also have to encounter the politician previously labeled a neo-Nazi at official events. "I am not enthusiastic about it, but it's the president's decision whom to invite," he commented on Gašparovič's invitation of Kotleba to yesterday's ceremony.

The Slovak paper reports that most politicians are sheepish when asked about meeting the new governor of the Banská Bystrica Region. However, they do not recommend isolating him.

"The governors are legally elected and we cannot avoid working meetings," said the governor for the Bratislava Region, Pavol Frešo. For his part, presidential candidate Pavol Hrušovský said he disagrees with many of Kotleba's opinions.

"However, I would not consider it correct to ignore the voice of the citizens," Hrušovský told a reporter for Sme. Milan Kňažko, who is also a presidential candidate, reportedly will be judging Kotleba by his deeds and by how he operates in the post of governor. 

The daily Sme reports that foreign diplomats will also be unable to avoid meeting the problematic politician. The embassies of Britain, Germany and the USA have supported marches by the LGBT community in Slovakia for years, marches at which Kotleba's people have thrown stones.

The embassies say they carefully select whom to invite to their events. "The Embassy of the United States of America carefully considers whom to invite to its events, many of which focus on respecting human rights and supporting tolerance," a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Bratislava told the Slovak press.


ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Fascism, Kotleba, Politika, Slovensko, USA, UK, Germany



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