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Slovakia interior minister resigns after journalist's murder

March 12, 2018

A coalition partner had made Robert Kalinak's resignation a condition for continued support in government. Slovakia has seen the largest protest since 1989, with demonstrators calling for the the government to step down.

An image of Robert Kalinak
Image: picture-alliance/W. Dabkowski

Slovak Interior Minister resigns

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak resigned on Monday amid nationwide outrage at the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

The junior coalition partner Most-Hid group made Kalinak's resignation a central requirement for its continued support for the government. As interior minister, he was responsible for overseeing the country's police force.

Read more: 'Slovakia's systemic corruption is killing people'

"I think to fulfill my mandate, I have to do everything to preserve stability in Slovakia," Kalinak told reporters in Bratislava. "For this reason I have decided to resign as deputy prime minister and interior minister."

Slovaks on Friday staged the largest mass protest since the anti-communist rallies of 1989, with protesters calling for Prime Minister Robert Fico's government to resign. Authorities estimated 50,000 people had rallied in Bratislava out of a population of 5.4 million.

Kalinak was a founder member of Fico's Smer party. The Most-Hid group leaders are expected to meet on Monday to determine how to move forward amid growing anger in Slovakia.

Slovak protesters
Protesters carried images of the interior minister during Friday's mass protests in BratislavaImage: picture-alliance/CTK/V. Salek

'Deeply divided country'

Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee were killed in their home last month. Police said the deaths were "most likely" related to Kuciak's unfinished investigation linking senior Slovak politicians to the Italian mafia.

Although the government has denied any links between two people who worked in Fico's office and were reportedly connected to the mafia via business intermediaries, the fallout has damaged its reputation.

Read more: Opinion: Warning signal for Europe from Slovakia

Last week, Slovak President Andrej Kiska, one of Fico's political rivals, said the country is facing a crisis of trust and the government must do more to restore confidence.

An EU delegation expressed concern over the situation after visiting the country last week. "We've found a deeply divided country that is nearly traumatized," said Ingeborg Grässle, a German politician who serves as a member of the European Parliament.

ls/ng (Reuters, AFP, AP)