Background for mission to Slovakia :

(Revised: October 2002; Source: CIA World Factbook, National Stats, UN, World Bank,World Markets On Line)

Political Violence

Political 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.

There have been other bombings, one of them outside the headquarters of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Slovakia (now part of the ruling SDK).

In early 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 motivated.