Thousands of Slovak protesters call for snap elections


Bratislava (AFP)

Thousands of protesters across Slovakia called for snap elections Friday, in a sign that a change of government ministers has not been enough to quell a public backlash triggered by the murder of a journalist probing corruption.

The president on Thursday appointed the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, whose predecessor and close ally Robert Fico had quit over the scandal.

Demonstrators in the capital Bratislava chanted "we want elections" and "shame" and held up signs with slogans such as "we have the right to vote" and "we don't want this government".

The new cabinet of the three-party coalition retains most of the people from the previous administration.

Analysts believe Fico will continue to call the shots from behind the scenes as he remains chairman of Pellegrini's Smer-SD party.

The local SME daily estimated that around 25,000 people turned out at the Bratislava rally, while smaller rallies took place in other cities.

Journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, both 27, were found shot dead last month in their home near Bratislava.

Police said Kuciak's death was "most likely" related to his investigation into alleged ties between top politicians and Italian mafia.

His death has raised concerns about media freedom and corruption in the EU member of 5.4 million people and sparked weekly anti-government protests.

Organisers of the previous "For a decent Slovakia" protests had called off this week's Friday edition after the new government was appointed.

But people took to the streets anyway in the new "We do care" protest organised by university students.

"We students decided to get involved in the events in our country, and be active in making positive changes in Slovakia," one of the students, Timotej Lauko, told protesters in Bratislava.

"Nobody else will improve things for us."