World Bulletin / News Desk
Michal Kovac, the first president of the independent Slovakia, died of heart failure Wednesday aged 86, his family told the local TASR news agency.
During his 1993-8 term, the banker-turned-politician openly criticised combative then prime minister Vladimir Meciar, whose undemocratic moves isolated the newly independent Slovakia on the world stage after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
Kovac served during a "ruthless and brutal" time for Slovakia, the eurozone country's liberal President Andrej Kiska said in a tribute on Facebook.
Kovac's conflict with Meciar was so intense that local and international media suspected the prime minister of orchestrating the violent 1995 abduction of Michal Kovac Jr., the president's son.
Kidnapped in neighbouring Austria, the younger Kovac was blindfolded and handcuffed, forced to drink a bottle of whisky and given electric shocks.
He recovered consciousness in his car near a police station in the Austrian town of Hainburg.
Meciar later blocked an investigation into the kidnapping, feeding suspicion he had arranged it to embarrass the president.
An Austrian court later ruled that the abduction was most likely the work of the Slovak authorities.
In 1996, Kovac famously refused to sign a so-called anti-subversion law that would have curbed freedom of expression.
"Although I knew my position could be endangered, at the same time I thought democracy was under attack, so I naturally tried to find courage to face the danger of dismissal," Kovac told a local newspaper in 1999, when running for a second term, which he failed to clinch.
Suffering from Parkinson's disease, Kovacs had been hospitalised several times in recent weeks.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ekim 2016, 20:27