Bratislava, Slovakia – Jan Kuciak, the investigative reporter murdered one year ago with his fiancee, was awarded this week the national journalism award 2018, reports local media.
Jan Kuciak receives best investigative story award, in memoriam
Jan Kuciak received the prestigious award posthumously for the best investigative story, his last and unfinished work published after his death by Aktuality.sk on the links between Slovak top-ranking officials and politicians and Italian mafia circles. You can read the English translation of his article as published by the Slovak Spectator.
Marek Vagovič, head of the investigative news desk at Aktuality.sk, where Kuciak worked, received the award on his behalf during the ceremony. Jan Kuciak also received the Czecho-Slovak Public Award, decided by the public in an online poll.
More than a dozen other Slovak journalists received distinctions for their work during the National Journalism Award ceremony, held on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.
Press and media freedom under pressure in Slovakia
The event was also the opportunity to highlight and remind of the importance of the work of journalists and reporters in a country still mourning Kuciak’s brutal murder.
It also came at a time of growing concerns regarding the state and future of press and media freedom in Slovakia, as the ruling Smer party has recently intensified its attacks against journalists and is considering passing a controversial amendment to the press code.
Kuciak’s murder, a turning point in Slovakia
The murder of Jan Kuciak, who was investigating corruption links between top government officials and organized crime, and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová in March 2018 plunged the country into turmoil.
Mass protests, the scope of which had not been seen since the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Iron Curtain, forced ruling party Smer leader Robert Fico to resign as Prime Minister. Several people, including influential businessman Marian Kocner, have since then been charged and arrested for the murder.
Nonetheless, popular anger towards the ruling Smer party hasn’t gone away, as exemplified by its unprecedented drop in polls and the victory of anti-corruption activist and government critic Zuzana Caputova in the recent presidential election.