Slovakia: five years after the murder of Ján Kuciak

In February 2018 the contract killing of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová shook Slovakia and led to massive protests, ushering in the fall of the government under populist Robert Fico, who was suspected of corruption, and a spirit of optimism. But five years on disillusionment has set in, commentators note.

Open/close all quotes (SK) /

Chance for renewal has been wasted

Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of, the website for which Kuciak worked, is disillusioned:

“Five years on Slovakia is certainly not the state Ján and Martina dreamed of. ... The civic movement that emerged after the murder can no longer harness the enormous energy it did back then. But the good news is that somewhere inside us there are still flames that have not been extinguished by politicians incapable of self-reflection. ... We still face a long struggle for democracy, which we owe not only to ourselves and the generations to come, but also to the legacy of murdered Ján and Martina.”

Denik N (CZ) /

Hated elites of the past re-emerging

Deník N takes a similar view:

“The murder of these two young people seemed to be a turning point for Slovakia. Tens of thousands regularly took to the streets, Robert Fico's populist government was toppled, and Slovaks elected the liberal Zuzana Čaputová as president a year later. But now the country is once again mired in political problems and heading for early elections in which Fico is likely to win a large share of the vote again. With an openly pro-Russian and extremist platform.”

Pravda (SK) /

Investigative journalism remains indispensable

Pravda stresses that the press has a key role to play in preserving Slovakia's democracy:

“The rule of law and equality before the law are not issues that dominate public discourse in the face of unprecedented crises. ... It's also understandable that justice, equality or the ethics of the legal profession are not at the top of our list of priorities. All the more so when many of us live from hand to mouth. But that is precisely why we need good investigative journalists. Like Ján Kuciak.”