Slovak Parliament bans ultra-right party's "train patrols"
News server Novinky.cz reports that the Slovak Parliament has approved an amendment to the law on the railways which means that as of February 2017 the only persons empowered to supervise public order on trains and at train stations are the Slovak Police and persons designated as security by a particular rail carrier. The law is a response to patrols by the nationalist "People's Party Our Slovakia" (LSNS), chaired by Marián Kotleba, who have been "patrolling" trains in the country whenever they like since April.
The amendment was approved by 98 legislators from both the governing coalition and the opposition. "Any activity to protect citizens' health, life and property can only be performed by the police or by an entity that has the relevant authorization from the rail carrier to do so. Nobody in this state can replace the police or pretend to do so," Slovak Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská (Most-Híd) is reported as saying by the news server.
"Political entities that aim to carry out activities to create the impression that this state is not functioning, in order to then propose their own 'solutions', will seek any way they can to advocate for their extremist program," the Justice Minister warned. Steps have been taken to ban the "patrols" on the trains since the summer, but travelers have continued to encounter them nevertheless.
Militia as the next step
The LSNS "train patrols" have turned out to be a very effective marketing tool for Kotleba's party. Video footage of "patrol" members aiding Slovak Police officers as they intervene against a drunken Romani man has been seen online by almost half a million people.
Kotleba makes no secret of the fact that the patrols are just the first step toward establishing a militia. "Experts in extremism see these patrols as an attempt to resurrect the 'Rodobrana' (Home Defense) - a paramilitary organization from the 1920s. Its members went on to compose the elite of the Hlinka Guard, which persecuted Czechs, Slovaks who would not conform to the regime, and Jewish people during the Second World War," public broadcaster ČT 24 reported in April.
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