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Slovakia: Fascist party head acquires land beneath Romani settlement near Krásná Hôrka castle

Bratislava (Slovakia), 26.4.2012 18:28, (ROMEA)
Marián Kotleba (holding microphone) shown here with Workers' Social Justice Party leader Tomáš Vandas (far right).

The head of the People's Party "Our Slovakia" (Lidová strana Naše Slovensko - LSNS), Marián Kotleba, who is notorious for making controversial statements, has now carried out the threats he made to authorities after Krásná Hôrka castle caught fire earlier this year. News server Tvnoviny.sk reports that Kotleba has succeeded in acquiring the land on which the Romani settlement in the village of Krásnohorské Podhradie is located. The settlement is not far from the castle, which is a landmark.

Kotleba has acquired an 800 square meter lot on which three or four illegally constructed dwellings now stand. As of yesterday, he can make use of the land. The previous owner, a village resident, has agreed to transfer it to him. Slovak media are reporting that Kotleba wants to destroy the illegal constructions erected on the land by settlement residents. He has been planning this ever since 10 March when the castle caught fire, allegedly because two Romani children were trying to light cigarettes.

Miroslav Bělička, Kotleba's party colleague, confirmed to Tvnovinky.cz that the ownership has been transferred. Bělička said they would be taking all of the necessary steps to officially register the land.

The settlement located on the land is said to be illegal. Bělička has refused to describe what is planned for the land until the title is fully transferred. Local Romani residents fear the worst.

Mayor Peter Boll insists that prior to the fire, village residents never had any problems with the Romani settlement and says that crime in the area was minimal. He is also concerned there will be problems because of Kotleba, who made a failed attempt to get into parliament earlier this year. Boll says the village had no way of intervening against the transfer of ownership. Approximately 900 people live in the settlement.

"It is unfortunate that Kotleba is making this effort to offer a solution instead of the municipality or the state doing so. That will make it the turn of the ultra-right with their populist solutions," said Irena Bihariová, head of the NGO People against Racism (Lidé proti rasismu). Experts have warned that clearing the land on which the illegal constructions stand will not solve local residents' problems.

Kotleba was previously the leader of Slovenská pospolitost (Slovak Solidarity), a Slovak right-wing extremist party later turned fascist association, which carries on the legacy of the WWII-era Slovak state, which was an ally of Nazi Germany. In the beginning the group formed as a political party, but the courts banned it. Slovak Solidarity members then registered as a civic association.

In a report dated 12 November 2008, the Slovak Interior Ministry said it would be dissolving Slovak Solidarity because it was inciting national and racial hatred and intolerance, which violates the Slovak Constitution and laws. The group is notorious for holding marches "for the nation" and against Romani people. Its members use the fascist greeting "Na stráž" ("On guard") and wear suits reminiscent of the uniforms of the Hlinka Guard, the Slovak paramilitary organization that persecuted Jewish and Romani people from 1938 until 1945.

ČTK, František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, TVnovinky.cz, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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