Jan Kuciak Murder: Slovak Interior Minister Resigns Over Journalists DeathČTK
Bratislava, March 12 (CTK) – Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-Social Democracy) announced his resignation, which the opposition and the smallest government coalition party Most-Hid demanded after the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, at a press conference today.
Kalinak, deputy chairman of Smer-SD, is the second minister from the cabinet of PM and chairman Robert Fico to resign in connection with the murder of Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova. Culture Minister Marek Madaric (Smer-SD) did so last week.
“The situation is very complicated at the moment. It is important for Slovakia to preserve stability. I have decided to resign in order to calm down the situation,” Kalinak told reporters.
Fico said Kalinak was one of the most capable ministers and he resigned in order to help maintain democracy and stability in the country.
“His departure is not a result of the failure of the police or his own failure in the investigation of the murder of two young people,” he said about Kalinak.
Fico praised Kalinak for a smooth implementation of the Schengen rules, visa-free travel and fewer accidents on Slovak roads.
Kalinak did not say whether he would keep his deputy’s mandate in parliament after leaving the government.
He said he would tender this resignation to the president in the days to come. However, he wants to submit bills at the upcoming parliament session to start on Tuesday.
Kalinak refused to step down last week. However, Smer-SD reiterated in the past days that it was prepared to offer a solution to enable Most-Hid to stay in the coalition.
Kalinak has been interior minister continuously since 2012. He occupied the same post in Fico’s first government in 2006-2010.
The opposition and media have long criticised Kalinak. They say he bears political responsibility for some cases not having been tackled.
Kalinak announced his resignation before a meeting of Most-Hid’s broader leadership on the solution to the current political crisis.
Most-Hid chairman Bela Bugar did not say after a meeting with President Andrej Kiska today whether Kalinak’s resignation would be sufficient for the party. Later on, Most-Hid said in a press release that a change in the interior minister’s post was inevitable to calm down the situation.
Plus Jeden den paper wrote that Justice Minister and Most-Hid deputy head Lucia Zitnanska demanded departure of PM Fico, otherwise she would resign herself. Last week, Zitnanska criticised Fico for his statements accusing Kiska of power games.
Kiska proposed either a government reshuffle or an early election to solve the crisis of public trust in the state after Kuciak’s murder.
The Slovak opposition previously tried to dismiss Kalinak over his business partner Ladislav Basternak who was charged with tax fraud. Fico, who rents a luxurious flat in Basternak’s building, then supported Kalinak, calling him the best interior minister Slovakia has ever had.
“Kalinak’s resignation is absolutely insufficient in terms of purging public life of corruption and mafia,” the Freedom and Solidarity strongest opposition party reacted to Kalinak’s resignation.
The Ordinary People and Independent Personalities opposition movement expressed a similar opinion.
Last week, elite Slovak prosecutor Vasil Spirko accused Kalinak of having ordered his discrediting in the past because of the investigation into a case of suspected bribery of Kalinak and former finance minister Jan Pociatek in placing a public contract.
Spirko supervised the investigation into the respective business transactions between Kalinak and Basternak. Subsequently, Spirko was charged with exerting pressure on a witness and these cases were taken away from him. All charges against Spirko were later dropped. Kalinak previously dismissed Spirko’s accusation.