BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — A political storm in Slovakia deepened Monday, with Prime Minister Robert Fico accusing the country’s president of destabilizing the country in the wake of the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.
Amid growing protests against his government, Fico said President Andrej Kiska had over-stepped the mark by calling for changes in the government or early elections to resolve the “serious political crisis” following the shooting deaths of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova.
For his last unfinished story, Kuciak, 27, reported on the influence of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and its possible ties to people close to Fico. The couple’s bodies were found Feb. 25.
In a televised statement on Monday, Fico made a televised statement Monday that not only accused Slovakia’s president of trying to destabilize the country, but suggested that Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros might be somehow involved.
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He said Kiska and Soros met privately in New York City on Sept. 20 last year and publicly asked the president to explain why he met the philanthropist, what they discussed and why he didn’t take any representatives of the Slovak Foreign Ministry to the meeting.
Kiska beat Fico in the 2014 presidential election. Kiska responded through his office by saying that Fico was using conspiracy theories to distract attention away from the current crisis.
Meanwhile, Slovak protesters planned to take to the streets again to demand a thorough investigation of the slayings and changes in government.
When tens of thousands of protesters marched Friday to honor Kuciak, many called on government ministers to resign. More demonstrations — this time directly aimed at the government — are planned for this week, including a rally in Bratislava scheduled for Friday.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the organizers called on foreign experts to join the local investigative team and for the creation of “a new trustworthy government with no people who are suspected of corruption” or ties to organized crime.
The first anti-government rally was planned for Monday evening in the second largest city of Kosice.
A junior party in the coalition government led by Fico is supporting calls by the opposition for Interior Minister Robert Kalinak to resign.
The leadership of the party known as Most-Hid will meet next week to discuss the coalition’s future.
Kalinak is a key ally of Fico in their leftist Smer-Social Democracy party. Thousands rallied across Slovakia already last year to demand Kalinak’s resignation due to a corruption scandal.