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Slovak crackdown on Italian mafia

Ján Kuciak, the Slovak analytical journalist who was murdered with his girlfriend (a young archaeologist), has written about 150 articles for in recent two years. Various suspicious Slovak entrepreneurs – who may have committed economic crime that could have been covered by the ruling party – became the suspects immediately.

However, the format looks too harsh for any Slovak villains. Cartridges around the corpses and stones around the house seems like a visit from a "different culture". On top of that, there's one article that was much more likely to be linked to the assassination – the uncompleted, final article by Kuciak. That uncompleted but extensive article was published yesterday – pretty much by all Slovak dailies. And I would agree it was a bombshell.

Kuciak described the Italians with links both to the 'Ndràngheta, the Calabrian mafia and one of the richest crime groups in the world that is said to collect 3.5% of Italy's GDP, and the Slovak politicians.

OK, we learned from the article that some Italians came to Slovakia and began to do business in Eastern Slovakia. These mafia businesses are attracted by the poorest parts of nations and like Calabria, Eastern Slovakia is natural.

Most of that mafia's revenue comes from the sales of cocaine. Add some online gambling etc. But within Slovakia, they were buying some apartments and stealing the value-added tax; they were collecting subsidies for their photovoltaic power plants; and for organic food farms that probably never grew any organic food but they got the stamps from some "friendly" officials, anyway.

It's a lot of regular crime but the Italians have connected themselves to higher layers – especially the Smer/Direction ruling party, the social democrats of the current prime minister Robert Fico.

The most connected Italian man – and, logically, a prime suspect – seems to be Antonino Vadala, a guy from Calabria who has had lots of politicians in Smer among his Facebook friends. These Facebook friends unfriended themselves in recent days and they claim that they have never heard of Vadala. ;-) There also exists a very friendly picture of Vadala and a Smer lawmaker. (I don't need to include Vadala's picture – it's enough to say that he's a lookalike of the Russian Neanderthal boxer Valuev.) He has done business with the son of a prosecutor in Eastern Slovakia – as well as with some former Smer lawmaker Viliam Jasaň and with a hottie who is the "state adviser" to PM Fico himself.

She, Ms Mária Trošková (search for these two words at Google Images), was a Miss Universe contestant in 2007. Later, she shared business with Vadala; she underwent a surgery to get silicon breasts; she has been on many modestly dressed photographs in men's magazines (one of them involved a banana); and she was recommended to Fico by Jasaň. What can this lady advise to the prime minister? "Robert, I really recommend you to have some silicon in your breasts, it feels really great." Or: "I recommend you Pamela from the escort service that I own." Or something like that. Should these advises be considered "state advising"? ;-)

Or is it reasonable to think that there was a bigger reason why this unimportant ex-beauty contestant got this close to the most powerful man in Slovakia?

It took some time. Mária Trošková as well as Viliam Jasaň have "temporarily" resigned from their position and NAKA, the National Criminal Agency of Slovakia, began a raid in the villa of Antonino Vadala three hours ago (on Thursday morning). They caught Vadala, his brother Bruno, and his cousin Pietro Catroppa as suspects; some reports talk about handcuffs but it's a bit unconfirmed. It's about 3-4 days too late but it's surprising that the operation started at all. (Several other Italian names from Eastern Slovakia are mentioned. One of them, Diego Roda, has a great collection of Ferraris, not to mention his nice villa that he also bought for the potatoes on his garden. (Holy cow, I feel some terrible deja vu – I must have searched this very house in Michalovce on Google Maps in the past, for similar "investigative" reasons, but I can't possibly find out what it was.) Vadala has called a well-known member of the Calabrian mafia who lives in Italy. There are lots of interesting pieces in Kuciak's article.)

The minister of culture of Slovakia Mr Marek Maďarič resigned for personal reasons that he hasn't clarified. The right-wing opposition demands the heads of the minister of interior Mr Robert Kaliňák and the police boss Mr Tibor Gašpar, too. And perhaps Fico that allowed Slovakia to be integrated into the Italian mafia in this way. He promised to build a superhighway in Eastern Slovakia – and he may have built a mafia there instead.

(By the way, Fico displayed €1 million for the information that will lead to the arrest of the killer – one million euros in cash on the table. This photograph looked like a document about a mafia by itself. I think that the payment of such big amounts in cash contradicts some laws forced by the EU on Slovakia. Not that I care – and cash may be great to make things really moving – but that gesture looked strange, anyway.)

Days ago, there was also a fire in the Tax Office in Košice, Eastern Slovakia. It's unlikely that something important has been burned – only the roof was affected – but it's hard to think that this fire, in such freezing temperatures and at the place that is most directly relevant for the economic crimes in Eastern Slovakia, was a coincidence.

Can the penetration of the Calabrian mafia be so deep that Slovakia won't be able to cut the links? Maybe I am too optimistic but I don't think so. At the end, I think that these folks aren't the most powerful people of Slovakia. Or at least, they can't control the majority of the law enforcement in the country which would be needed to resist the efforts to restore justice, especially when so many people have learned what is probably going on. The Calabrian mafia's revenue trumps that of McDonald's and Deutsche Bank but it's still ultimately a bunch of losers. I hope they won't assassinate me just because, respectfully, I don't have any respect for this scum.

Meanwhile, Vadala also has a company in Czechia, originally known as Redo Water. Its Czech representative is a Mr Filip Dušek from a relatively unknown village West of Prague (probably a strawperson). However, the Vadala company's headquarters are located at the most expensive street address in Czechia, Prague's Na Příkopě – where the Czech National Bank is located, too. Cool. Another Czech link is a Czech female journalist Ms Pavla Holcová who worked on the same story as Kuciak and had to get some police protection.

A Czech pundit claims that the big corruption in the Slovak court system, and not just the Slovak mafia, may be behind the assassination. Slovak police boss Gašpar talks about two drug addicts who said to go to Kuciak's town. PM Fico promotes the idea that Kuciak and the killer had a coffee together so they were friends, and so on.

Things are suspicious in Slovakia and some people may be deeply connected with this organized crime. But I feel that things are generally moving in the right direction in Slovakia. In Czechia, it doesn't looks so to me these days. Acting prime minister Babiš, in his efforts to escape the prison, plans a full-blown coup. He wants to fire the boss of GIBS (the police investigating policemen's criminal acts; yes, Gibbs in NCIS often did the same thing) – and it's believed that he wants to use the new boss of GIBS to fire the policemen who investigate the acting prime minister's own criminal acts. You can't find a better example of a conflict of interests.

According to the law, the boss of GIBS has some limited independence which includes a 5-year tenure. Before the end of the 5-year window, he can only end if he resigns himself; or if he commits something equivalent to a criminal act. Babiš doesn't have either in his hands but he would just find a new boss of GIBS much more convenient. Babiš surely seems to need to replace the boss of GIBS urgently. Why?

The democratic opposition is shocked because these plans are so similar to the takeover of the police directors by the communist party in February 1948 that immediately preceded the communist coup. But there's at least 1.5 million brain-dead voters in Czechia who find this behavior by Babiš just fine – or who are just too dumb to understand what's actually going on. A difference is that the communists were a part of a legitimate government. Babiš is a prime minister "in resignation" because he failed to get a confidence from the Parliament. So it should be a matter of decency (and many lawmakers want to turn it into a new law) that he doesn't make big changes – including personal changes – anywhere. Instead, he performs purges of Stalin's caliber.

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