The reform has drawn criticism from Brussels, where the European Commission has called the reform “far-reaching and touches on a lot of EU law”.
The controversial reform of Slovakia’s criminal code, with which the government of populist Robert Fico intends to eliminate the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, has been postponed until January due to the parliamentary opposition’s blockage, local media reported on Monday.
Initially, the coalition government of left-wing populists and ultranationalists wanted to introduce the legislative changes by emergency procedure before Christmas, but has not succeeded and will have to wait.
The reform has drawn criticism from Brussels, where the European Commission has called for a “thorough and in-depth analysis” as the reform “is far-reaching and touches on a lot of EU law”.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office is currently handling several major corruption cases involving politicians from Fico’s SMER party, such as former police chief Tibor Gaspar and deputy speaker of parliament Peter Ziga, as well as central bank governor Peter Kazimir and the former head of the intelligence services.
The prosecutor’s office also oversees investigations against oligarchs suspected of corruption involving agricultural subsidies and public contracts, tax crimes and harassment of journalists.
The government’s bill has already provoked two massive citizen protests, promoted by the progressive, liberal and Christian Democrat parliamentary opposition, groups that have announced that they will continue to protest in the streets if Fico’s government does not desist from its intentions.
Fico returned to power for the fourth time after his scandal-tainted leftist party won Slovakia’s 30 September parliamentary election on a pro-Russia and anti-American platform.
His critics worry that his return could lead Slovakia to abandon its pro-Western course and instead follow the direction of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Since Fico’s government came to power, some elite investigators and police officials who deal with top corruption cases have been dismissed or furloughed. The planned changes in the legal system also include a reduction in punishments for corruption.
Under the previous government, which came to power in 2020 after campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket, dozens of senior officials, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businesspeople linked to Fico’s party have been charged and convicted of corruption and other crimes.