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Slovakia's Political Reversal: From Fico, Through Hope, Back to Fico

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Event Details:

UPDATE: This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled soon. 

The Bechtel International Center will host international speakers from the John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, starting February 7 at 12:30 PM.

The first talk will feature investigative journalist and founder of the independent outlet, Pavla Holcová, who comes from Prague, the Czech Republic. She will discuss the political situation in Slovakia after the country elected again the party of populist Robert Fico, who resigned in 2018 following a range of scandals, including the murder of Holcová’s colleague, journalist Ján Kuciak.

Lunch will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. This series will take place on Wednesdays at 12:30 PM during the winter and spring quarters.


Talk Description: Slovakia's Political Reversal: From Fico, Through Hope, Back to Fico

In October 2023, Slovakia once again voted the populist Smer party (Direction - Social Democracy) into power, giving former two-time Prime Minister Robert Fico a chance for a political comeback. This time, Fico ran on a clear pro-Russian campaign to terminate support for Ukraine, among a range of political issues that threaten to have serious consequences for the region, unity in the European Union, and NATO. Fico resigned in 2018 following a series of political scandals, including the killing of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. The killings incited mass protests and investigations in Slovakia, leading to his resignation.

You're invited to hear about these recent developments in Slovakia from Pavla Holcová, an investigative journalist and founder of the independent outlet, a member center of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Along with her colleague Ján Kuciak, she exposed ties between the Slovak government and the Italian mafia. After Kuciak's murder, Holcová helped finish his stories, investigate the murder, and with her team, unravel one of the European Union’s most jaw-dropping corruption scandals, implicating senior judges and police figures and eventually bringing down a government.

Holcová is also OCCRP’s editor for Central Europe. She has contributed to major cross-border projects such as the Panama Papers, the Russian and Azerbaijani Laundromats, the Pegasus Project, the Pandora Papers, and the Russian Asset Tracker. She won the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award, the World Justice Project’s Anthony Lewis Prize, and the Allard Prize for International Integrity. As a 2024 JSK fellow at Stanford, she is working on ways to understand better and evaluate threats against journalists.