Home EU Agencies Slovakia: the favorite pro-Russian power candidate in the presidential election
EU Agencies

Slovakia: the favorite pro-Russian power candidate in the presidential election

Peter Pellegrini, speaker of parliament and ally of pro-Russian Prime Minister Robert Fico, was leading the polls before the first round of the presidential election in Slovakia this Saturday. His main opponent, diplomat Ivan Korcok, advocates a pro-European policy and support for Ukraine.

4.5 million Slovak voters are called to the polls this Saturday to decide between a total of ten candidates, including Peter Pellegrini (48 years old), former Prime Minister, and Ivan Korcok (59 years old), former head of diplomacy, in neck and neck in opinion polls.

“The electoral campaign was quite strange, everything revolves around the person of Robert Fico, the current head of government, who is an autocrat and determines the political agenda and the themes debated,” underlines the political scientist from Comenius University from Bratislava, Sona Szomolanyi, adding that “Slovakia is unfortunately specific in the sense that it is the members of the government who spread the most disinformation”.

In terms of foreign policy, Peter Pellegrini (leader of the Hlas party born from the split from Robert Fico’s SMER party) is on the same line – in fact, favorable to the Kremlin – as the Prime Minister, who refuses any military aid to the neighboring Ukraine, even if it means getting angry with the Czech leaders who are struggling to buy shells for the Ukrainian army.

During the three weeks preceding this first electoral round, Robert Fico sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs to shake the hand of his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov then participated in a commemoration ceremony in the company of the Russian ambassador to Slovakia.

At the same time, the investigative site VSquare revealed this week that Peter Pellegrini, then Prime Minister, insisted in 2020 on traveling to Moscow – through the Hungarian government – to flatter the pro-Russian electorate of Slovakia.

“Slovakia, like other countries, is divided, even cut into two camps that seem irreconcilable, and the camp of Pellegrini and Fico is the one that wants to make us look like Belarus or Hungary while the other camp – which will vote for Korcok – cares more than anything about belonging to the EU and NATO”, believes the actor once involved in politics Milan Knazko.

For supporters of the national-populist government coalition, the victory of Peter Pellegrini would be a means of strengthening the power in place, which is undertaking more controversial reforms in the areas of justice and the media in particular.

“We have never reached this level of threat to freedom of the press and the independence of public media,” says an indignant journalist from RTVS, the Slovak public radio and television, under condition of anonymity. is called into question by a bill already denounced by the NGO Reporters Without Borders and the European Commission.

For the progressive opposition, which failed to form a coalition after last fall’s legislative elections, this presidential election is seen as a means of reducing the influence of Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose Russian tropism is denounced by Ivan Korcok , a career diplomat who will have his work cut out to win in the second round in two weeks if he manages to qualify this Saturday.

The skills of the president, elected for five years, remain limited in Slovakia, but the outgoing head of state, Zuzana Caputova, had made pro-European orientation and support for Ukraine the priorities of her foreign policy.

This article is originally published on rtbf.be

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