(Revised: October 2002; Source:
CIA World Factbook, National Stats, UN, World Bank,World Markets On Line)
violence is rare. However, in 1995 the son of President Michal
Kovac was abducted in Slovakia and later dumped in
front of a police station in Austria. Kovac
was one of the key figures opposed to Vladimir Meciar’s
government, and it is widely suspected that forces loyal to the latter carried
out the abduction. In 1996, a bomb killed a witness of the kidnapping. Later,
the interior minister and the main investigator in the affair were dismissed.
been other bombings, one of them outside the headquarters of the opposition
Social Democratic Party of Slovakia (now part of the ruling SDK).
January 1999, former economy minister and head of the gas industry Jan Ducky,
who had been close to Vladimir Meciar, was found shot
dead outside his home. Ducky had been dismissed as head of the state gas
industry, Slovensky Plynarsky
Priemysel, by the new government in November 1998. He
had allegedly been involved in murky privatisations
and controversial deals with Russian gas giant Gazprom.
His was the latest in a series of dubious killings in post-Communist Slovak
politics, highlighting links with the mafia world.
Lexa's Legacy Lives On
For years he was Slovakia's most wanted man, hunted by
Interpol and vilified in Slovakia as a notorious criminal.
Extradited from South Africa, after having fled there to
escape prosecution, Ivan Lexa is currently awaiting
trial. The former head of the Slovak Secret Service has been on the run from
Slovak authorities since 1999 after he skipped bail - escaping from charges
as diverse as kidnapping and fraud. Lexa was caught
near the South African port city of Durban while carrying a fake passport.
Slovak police had been searching for Lexa following
allegations that he ran a defamation campaign against former President Michal Kovac in order to
advance the political campaign of the HZDS, led by his friend and confidante,
former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. He is also
implicated in the kidnapping and torture of Kovac's
teenage son. Lexa faces eight charges of fraud, theft,
corruption, armed robbery, sabotage (defamation), kidnapping and the aiding
and abetting of criminals.
Incredibly, having skipped bail
the first time, Lexa was again given leave to
appear in court at a later date, pending investigations into his alleged
crimes. The notorious crimes committed by the Slovak Secret Service under Meciar's rule have prompted the EU and NATO to rule out
Slovak membership of the organisations if Meciar is returned to power in the forthcoming elections.
Lexa maintains that his arrest was politically