Right-wing into serious political levels with the so

Right-wing extremists in
Slovakia

 

            Right-wing extremist ideas have been
present in Central Europe constantly for more than a hundred years, since
around the end of the 19th century. These ideas got a more widespread publicity
before and during World War II. During the socialist era, followers of these
ideas were pursued, after the fall of the Soviet Union, however, they started
being shared amongst people once again.

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            A few small groups having extremist
views is one thing, sadly in Slovakia these ideas infiltrated even the
political life on a higher level. As in other Central European countries, the
followers of the far right ideology used free speech as a validation for their
extremist thoughts – stating that they can say these things solely because they
have a right for free speech.

            Extremists first got into serious
political levels with the so called party Slovenská
pospolitos? – národná strana around the year 2005. This party got quickly
flagged by the media as extremist for a good reason. They worshipped the
nazi-led Slovak state that existed during World War II, while often called
their president Vodca, which is the
Slovak translation of the german word Führer.
Their main goals were to “… build
an independent Slovak statarian state based on nationality, religion and
society, to get the Slovak republic out of NATO and announce war neutrality,
…to build a closer relationship with other Slavic countries and get Slovakia
out of IMF and any other organizations and treaties that undermines or
demolishes the Slovak nation and state.”

            The party was ensuring their ideas
with their looks as well, often making public appearances in the uniforms of
the Hlinka Guard (a paramilitary group of extremists between 1938 and 1945). In
their public speeches they often deemed the Slovak National Revolution (aimed
against the nazi occupation of Slovakia during World War II) as a “…anti-Slovak bolshevist coup and an
international action of traitors.” They criticised parliamentary democracy
and often threw slurs as “Gypsy
parasites”, “Hungarian chauvinists” or “Zionist
lobby”. Their paroles included such as “We
won’t give Slovakia!”, “Long live Tiso!” (Jozef Tiso, leader of the nazi
occupied state during World War II) and “Long
live the leader!” or even “Heil
Führer!”

            After the Slovak media and NGOs
raised their voices against the party, the supreme court of Slovakia banned the
party in 2006.

The ideological heir of Slovenská
pospolitos? became ?udová strana Naše
Slovensko, which exists and works up to this day. The president of the
party is Marián Kotleba, former
member of Slovenská pospolitos?,
member of the Slovak parliament and former county chairman of the county of
Bánska Bystrica. According to their own words, their main goal is “…to make an independent Slovakia on three
pillars: national, religious and social.” This is one of the clear examples
how the party continues what their banned predecessor started. They are often
flagged as extremists and even as nazis for praising the nazi-led country of
Slovakia during World War II, as well as for many of their members sympathizing
with Hitler and his regime. Not surprisingly, the supreme court started
investigations about the party in 2017.

In the elections for members of the parliament in 2010,
LSNS got only 1.33 percent of total votes, while in 2012 1.58 percent. However,
in 2016 they gained as much as 8.04 percent of the total votes, becoming the
fifth most popular country in Slovakia and getting 14 mandates. That was when
the first slap was given from the moderate left: president Andrej Kiska invited
all the presidents of the parties that made it to the parliament, except
Kotleba, saying he “did not see a reason
to meet extremists.” Two days after the votes a rally was organized by
students from Bratislava called Anti-fascist
mobilization. The students took an open letter to the head of the supreme
court, asking them to ban LSNS. A similar rally was held in Bánska Bystrica,
where Kotleba was the chairman of the country at that time, two days later.

In 2017 in the county votes, Kotleba did not succeed to
keep his position as the chairman of the Bánska Bystrica county, even though
his party got more percent of the votes as they did in 2016 in the
parliamentary elections. This was because every party and candidate, from
government to opposition, decided to join their forces against extremist, which
became the main motive of their campaigns. Those voting for LSNS said they were
not voting for their political programme or promises, but because they
sympathise with their leader. This is even further evidenced by the fact that
the party is often called Kotleba-LSNS, in order to make a ‘brand’ out of their
president’s name.

Kotleba and the other members of the party, or rather
Kotleba’s followers, got a whole lot of coverage in the mainstream media thanks
to their scandals. The first one of these events was when Peter Krupa, member
of the parliament, brought a pistol with him into the building of the
parliament. Even though he was carrying it legally and he gave the gun to the
guards willingly, the guards of the parliament are not allowed to search the
members of the parliament, so he could have brought the gun inside anytime. The
story got connected with Marian Maga, another member of LSNS and candidate for
the post of chairman of Žilina county, for illegally owning a firearm. It was
at the same time that Kotleba wanted to submit a proposal to the parliament
about forming a paramilitary group, as he called them, a national guard, that
would serve somewhat like the police, keeping the peace and order all around the
country.

Some time later, Stanislav Mízik, member of the parliament
and LSNS, got arrested in his office in the parliament for sharing anti-Jewish
posts on social media and sharing nazi ideas to the public. He blamed Andrej
Kiska for awarding a Jewish man with the Medal of the President of the
Republic.

Another big atrocity has happened last december, when
Kotleba was formally stepping down as chairman of the County of Bánska
Bystrica, during the inauguration ceremony of Ján Lunter, his successor. Two men,
supposedly the followers of Kotleba and LSNS, stood in the doorway of the room
the ceremony was held, and tried to keep the crew of Rimava TV outside. Nobody
present intervened, not even the city police that came to assure the event, but
Zsolt Simon, member of the parliament and of the party Most-Híd.

Of course it was not just the members of the party, Kotleba
had his big scandals as well. The first one was, when still the chairman of the
county of Bánska Bystrica, he helped his family and friends gain higher
positions and jobs at state firms. However, this was only a scandal in the
media, with no investigation following after. Last december he was put to
question for selling 103 industry vehicles for a symbolic 1€. While his
opposition says the vehicles were functioning and that this might be considered
a crime of stealing, Kotleba states these machines were not used anymore and
everything useful was taken out of them before the sale.

The biggest scandal, however, happened in July 2017, when
the Slovak police raised charges against Marian Kotleba for spreading extremist
ideas. In march, Kotleba gave 1488€ to a poor family in Bánska Bystrica. Note
that 14/88 is a fascist symbol, 14 representing 14 words written by David Lane
(“We must secure the existence of
our people and a future for white children”), with H being the 8th
letter of the alphabet, therefore HH=88 pointing to Heil Hitler. Kotleba is charged with taking advantage of charity in
order to share and propagate fascist ideology, which can be punished from 6
months to 3 years in prison. The investigation is still in process.

As the above mentioned examples show, the Slovak
far-right-wing managed to get some political success, even though they proudly
share their extremist beliefs. Fortunately, their political opponents quickly
realized the danger in their empowerment and joined a forces, an action that
will hopefully last for the upcoming votes into the European Union’s and later
into the Slovak parliament, so the spread of extremism will come to an end.