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article imageSlovak minister slams political 'interference' in public media

By AFP     Jun 1, 2018 in World

Slovakia's culture minister on Friday criticised what she termed political "interference" in public media, a day after 12 journalists quit RTVS public radio and TV, accusing its management of bowing to political pressure.

Media freedom has come under scrutiny in EU member Slovakia in the wake of the February murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak.

He was gunned down in his home gangland-style as he was about to publish an investigative report into corruption and alleged ties between politicians and the Italian mafia.

The murder and Kuciak's last explosive report plunged the eurozone country of 5.4 million people into crisis, sparking weekly mass protests that forced the government to resign in March.

"It is unacceptable for politicians to interfere in the functioning of a public institution and to abuse the news subjects that are in RTVS jurisdiction," Culture Minister Lubica Lassakova said in a statement following Friday talks with RTVS head Jaroslav Reznik.

He has come under heavy criticism after several RTVS journalists were let go, triggering others to leave in protest earlier this month.

Twelve more handed in their notices on Thursday, claiming that RTVS management was not giving them enough protection from political pressure.

Reznik has flatly denied bending to politicians or censorship.

More than 200 journalists from various Slovak media outlets signed an open letter in April expressing their concern over the situation at RTVS.

"Those trying to silence the media are first and foremost meddling with the right of the public to know what is happening in the country," they said, accusing RTVS management of "bullying, restricting or getting rid of experienced reporters."

Filip Minich, one of the twelve journalists who quit, told AFP on Friday that a string of events led to his decision.

"It has been a long lasting-problem. There has been no cooperation or support from management," he said, adding that "the straw that broke the camel's back was when four of our colleagues were sacked" in April.

Liberal Slovak President Andrej Kiska called the allegations made by journalists "extremely serious".

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