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A Vicious Cycle in Mariánské Lázně

A Vicious Cycle in Mariánské Lázně

Investment apartments have become the subject of a heated debate in Prague. The Czech Pirate party’s proposal to ascertain  the number of vacant apartments in the capital by monitoring their electricity consumption and then levy a tax on such apartments raised a wave of protest, criticism and coalition conflicts at Prague City Hall. However, two equally important topics were neglected in this debate: firstly, that of investment apartments in small towns, the (mere) existence of which can change the atmosphere and appearance of these towns, and secondly, investment apartments purchased with dirty money, which often serve as a safe deposit...

Russian Spy on Vacation in Bratislava

Russian Spy on Vacation in Bratislava

Two FSB agents living in Moscow and Slovakia are suspected of allegedly targeting Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. According to Golunov’s colleagues at the news site Meduza.io, the events leading up to the Russian investigative journalist’s shocking arrest began with an article he was working on, which accused two FBS secret intelligence service agents, Alexej Dorofejev and Marat Medojev, of being behind Moscow’s so-called “funeral mafia.” Medojev’s father, Igor Medojev, who is also an FSB agent, has a home in Slovakia, where he owns businesses and properties. The Golunov Case Ivan Golunov is a Russian investigative journalist, who was recently...

Questions Linger After Indictment in Kuciak’s Murder

Questions Linger After Indictment in Kuciak’s Murder

More than a year after Slovak investigative reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancee were assassinated in their home, one of the country’s richest men has been charged with ordering their murders. The allegations against Marian Kočner, who has been jailed since June in connection with financial crimes — some of which Kuciak had investigated and written about — were announced on Thursday, Mar. 14 at a news conference near Bratislava. The indictment caps a year-long probe into the murders, which Kuciak’s colleagues and the public have long suspected were connected to his coverage of corruption and organized crime in Slovakia....

The Cocaine Cowboys

The Cocaine Cowboys

In a nondescript shopping mall in the industrial outskirts of Venice, a major new European drug route is taking shape. Antonino Vadalà, a hot-headed man who dominates the room, sizes up his potential partner, a local businessman he hopes will help him import hundreds of kilos of cocaine into northern Italy and Slovakia. The plan is to use legal goods to disguise the drug shipments. “We load bananas, cereal, nuts, we load some bullshit,” Vadalà says. “We ship it to your company … and we pay off customs. We clear it with them when [the container] arrives.” Vadalà, 44, a...

The Murder

The Murder

The offer was straightforward and financially attractive: Kill a man in return for 50,000 euros in cash and the forgiveness of more than 20,000 euros in debt. Zoltán Andruskó, a Slovak pizzeria operator, quickly accepted – a decision that forever changed both his life and the history of Slovakia. The woman Andruskó said offered the deal was Alena Zsuzsová, an Italian translator and fixer who worked for one of Slovakia’s richest men, Marián Kočner. Sitting together in a car outside her house, Zsuzsová gave Andruskó the details: a name, a couple of photos, and a home address. It was all...

How the Mafias Came to Slovakia

How the Mafias Came to Slovakia

The Balkan mafias were the first major crime syndicates to come to Slovakia, following people from the region who had been invited to work and study there during the communist era. As their businesses spread across their new homeland, so did their influence, which they used to dominate the only organized criminal industries possible under the communist regime: prostitution, gambling, and illegal currency exchanges. When Slovakia gained its independence in 1993, the organized crime syndicates remained and flourished. Soon enough, the Italian mafia joined the former Yugoslavs and the Albanians. Today — though known for its relatively painless transition from...