Thousands of people returned to the streets of major cities across Slovakia on Tuesday to continue their protests against the new government of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico’s plan to amend the country’s criminal code.
The changes proposed by the coalition government include a proposal to abolish the special prosecutor’s office, which handles serious crimes such as bribery, organized crime and extremism, by mid-January.
Under the proposal, those cases will now be handled by district attorneys, who have not dealt with such crimes in 20 years.
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Michal Simecka, head of the liberal Progressive Slovakia, the strongest opposition party, said the changes “will lead to amnesty for the mafia and corrupt people”.
“We have to show them that we will stand up for justice,” Simecka said.
Meanwhile, in the streets people repeatedly chanted “We’ve had enough of Fiko”.
Legislation passed by Fico’s government needs parliamentary and presidential approval. The three-party coalition has a majority in parliament.
Fico returned to power for a fourth term after his scandal-tainted leftist party won parliamentary elections in Slovakia on September 30 on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform.
His critics worry that his return could lead Slovakia to abandon its pro-Western course and instead follow Hungary’s lead under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Since Fico’s government took over, a number of investigators and police officials dealing with high-profile corruption cases have been sacked or fired. Planned changes to the legal system also include reducing penalties for corruption.
Under the previous government, which came to power in 2020 after an anti-corruption campaign, dozens of senior officials, police, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businessmen linked to Fico’s party have been charged and convicted of corruption and other crimes .
The protests have been raging since December 7, when people took to the streets of Bratislava.
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Organizers said on Tuesday that rallies were held in Kosice, Presov, Poprad, Banska Bystrica, Zilina, Nitra, Trnava, Trencin, Spisska Nova Ves, Liptovsky Mikulas and Povazska Bystrica.