A suspected mafia killing of an investigative journalist last month continues to upend politics in the small central European country of Slovakia. Ján Kuciak, 27, was an investigative reporter who covered cases of tax fraud and corruption, some of which were linked to Slovak politicians. The final story he was working on when he and his fiancé Martina Kušnírová were murdered involved members of the Italian mafia and the ruling Smer-SD party; it described shady business ties between suspected crime syndicate members and Slovak politicians, including the misappropriation of European Union funding by organized crime.
The episode has triggered the largest public protests in Slovakia since the end of the communist era, with demonstrators seeking early elections to remove the present governing coalition, which they allege is corrupt and infiltrated by organized criminal groups. Corruption has long been a serious social problem in Slovakia, with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously calling the country “the black hole of Europe” back in 1997.