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21st February a Year Later

21st February a Year Later

More than a year after a special prosecutor in Slovakia charged Marian Kočner with ordering murders of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fianceé Martina Kušnírová. Kočner threatened Kuciak months before the murder. Despite Kuciak´s request, the police did not react. According the special prosecutor, the official motive of Kočner was Kuciak´s investigative reporting. Read the whole story how the newsroom and Slovak society has changed since the day of the murder. I am walking through the Slovak National Uprising Square in Bratislava, where the Public Against Violence monument is situated. The well-known V-shaped symbol is surrounded by several photos of...

Eastern Kinderguardians

Eastern Kinderguardians

Children marching in raincoats with gas masks over their faces. It is a memory that comes to the minds of people who went to school in the Czech Republic before 1989. After the Soviet Union break-up, the picture of national defence education disappeared from the life of schools, just as compulsory Russian classes. The memory came back to life in 2012. The Czech Ministry of Defence came up with a new idea. A report on the nation’s preparedness to defend the country mentions a major problem: “the issue of preparing people to defend the country is not sufficiently highlighted in the curricula of...

Uniform for a Patriot

Uniform for a Patriot

School celebrations, patriotic marches and national holidays. All accompanied by ever-present weapons and green uniforms. In countries of the Central Europe patriotism increasingly means militarism, and civil values are being displaced by the cult of weapons and combat. Nobody controls this movement. VSquare special report shows, that states are supporting amateur militarists on an unprecedented scale.  Two or three years of compulsory military service for everyone. School exercises where teens have to shoot, crawl wearing gas masks and dress fake shrapnel wounds. In cinemas, war shown as an adventure. This is what the governments of Warsaw Pact states did to...

Man of revolution

Man of revolution

Jan Kuciak made a revolution in my life 8 years ago when we met at the university. He was my friend, schoolmate, colleague, mentor, beer buddy, psychologist, philosopher, and an irreplaceable person in my life. All these sides of Janko have been spread across Slovakia and every single face during protests in the squares reflects one of them. 26th February 2018 stopped the casual time flow in Slovakia. The whole country was shocked by the news of the death of journalist Ján Kuciak and archaeologist Martina Kušnírová. The official statement hit thousands of people even more. The police president Tibor Gašpar...

You cannot kill the story

You cannot kill the story

When Marek Vagovič, the editor of Jano Kuciak from his news portal Aktuality, called me at 8 AM on Monday morning, I had no idea how his message was going to turn my upcoming days upside down. He asked me to sit down and explained me that Jano and his fiancée Martina were brutally murdered at their home in Slovak village of Velka Mača. He told me it was the work of professional – one bullet to Jano´s chest, one bullet to Martina´s head. And as I am the one who worked closely with him on his last big investigation,...

War of Words

War of Words

The Russian online propaganda offensive was launched after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. The aftermath of this operation still echoes around the world today. Organized groups of pro-Kremlin online commentators have been active for at least 17 years, since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s presidency. In 2003, the name „Kremlin’s web brigades” was first used by Russian researchers, Anna Polyanskaya, Andrey Krivov and Ivan Lomako. Back then, the main purpose of the „brigades” was to praise Vladimir Putin’s presidency. Over the years, „brigades” took upon themselves to do more than just write comments; they started...