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Slovak Extremist Calls on Yanukovych Not to Give Up

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Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych shouldn’t “surrender” to demands by protesters, said Marian Kotleba, a Slovak regional politician known for wearing a Nazi-style uniform and making anti-Roma statements.

The anti-government clashes in Ukraine, Slovakia’s eastern neighbor, represent the West’s struggle to “gain new markets” and “get closer to Russia,” Kotleba said in an open letter to the Ukrainian president posted on the website of his Banska Bystrica region today. Ukraine’s government shouldn’t negotiate with “terrorists,” he said.

Tensions between the Ukrainian government and the opposition, which erupted after Yanukovych rejected an integration pact with the European Union, escalated last week as they turned deadly. The EU has warned that the conflict threatens to escalate into a civil war that may break Ukraine apart.

“I ask and demand of you to by no means surrender to groups, which by street violence and attacks on the government’s institutions and its representatives try to break up” Ukraine and threaten its “independence,” Kotleba said.

Slovak Premier Robert Fico and his Czech, Hungarian and Polish counterparts called for a peaceful solution of the conflict at a Jan. 29 meeting in Budapest.

Kotleba, who founded and chairs Slovakia’s People’s Party, surprisingly was elected to head one of eight regional governments in Slovakia two months ago. He defeated incumbent Vladimir Manka, a member of Fico’s Smer party. Kotleba has called for a greater independence from the EU and for dropping the euro now used in Slovakia. His popularity has been rising as the nation’s economic growth slowed and unemployment fueled anti-Roma sentiment.

The People’s Party would muster 7.6 percent of support in national elections, for the first time exceeding the 5 percent threshold required to win seats in the parliament, according to a Jan. 15-21 poll conducted by MVK Agency on a sample of 1,106 adults. No margin of error was given.

To contact the reporter on this story: Radoslav Tomek in Bratislava, Slovakia at rtomek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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