Slovak rail system issues new rules to prevent ultra-right party from abusing it for propaganda purposes
The Czech daily Právo reports that the Railway Company of Slovakia has decided to prevent the patrols organized by the nationalist People's Party (LSNS) of Marian Kotleba from monitoring the wagons under its control. New transport regulations now ban the performance of political agitation in Slovak Rail wagons.
The LSNS allegedly has wanted its patrols to supervise order on the trains. A spokesperson for Kotleba's party has already announced that the patrols will continue boarding Slovak Rail trains.
"It is not allowed for any other entity to perform activity on the trains of the Railway Company of Slovakia without reaching an agreement with our company. Train personnel already supervise the safety of passengers and we actively cooperate with the Rail Police," Jana Morháčová of the Railway Company of Slovakia emphasized in an interview for the Markíza television station in Slovakia in April.
The members of Kotleba's patrols have distributed fliers to passengers during their rounds calling on them to establish militias. "Without the written agreement of the railway it is forbidden to conduct business or to enter the trains for the purpose of selling something, promoting something, or implementing political agitation, or to popularize or support the brand, name, program or slogans of a political party, as well as distributing or posting fliers," the new regulations state.
Those breaking the new rules will be removed from trains at the closest possible station. The nationalist party alleges that it has wanted to increase safety for passengers on high-risk train routes.
Members of the patrols have mostly been party members and sympathizers. Milan Uhrík, spokesperson for the LSNS, said in reaction to the new regulations that they were clearly aimed against the patrols.
Green t-shirts will continue to patrol
Despite the attempt of Slovak Rail to ban the unwanted patrols, Uhrík said party adherents will continue to ride the trains. "We are among the VIP clients of the railways. We have nine transferable passes good for the entire network, all year long, worth EUR 8 600," he told Právo.
The LSNS train patrols have proven to be a very effective marketing tool for Kotleba's party. A video of patrol members aiding police officers with an intervention against a drunken passenger identified as Romani has been watched on social networking sites by almost half a million people.
Kotleba makes no secret of the fact that these patrols are the first step toward introducing militias. "Experts on extremism see in these patrols an attempt to resurrect the Rodobrana [Family Defense] - a paramilitary organization from the 1920s. Its members then comprised the elite of the Hlinka Guard, which persecuted Czechs, Jews, and non-conformist Slovaks during the Second World War," news server ČT 24 reported.
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