23 Aug 2022, 11:58 AM

STA, 22 August 2022 - Lawyer and ex-Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar tops the latest public opinion poll measuring support for the presidential election conducted by Mediana for the newspaper Delo. Pirc Musar has been picked by 26.1% of respondents, and is followed closely by former Foreign Minister Anže Logar.

Logar mustered 23.4%, while Marta Kos, a vice-president of the ruling Freedom Movement, is the only other presidential candidate with a substantial backing, polling at 14.1%.

The remaining candidates for the 23 October elections are far behind, with former Foreign Minister and MEP Ivo Vajgl receiving the backing of 3.2% of the respondents, followed by gynaecologist Sabina Senčar (2.9%) and psychoanalyst Nina Krajnik (0.8%).

More than 15.1% of the 501 respondents polled on 16-18 August were undecided, 4.1% said they would not vote for any of the candidates and 3.8% said they would not vote at all.

Delo notes that, given the latest public opinion polls, a run-off is very likely, and if it featured Pirc Musar and Logar, 44.4% would vote for the former and 30.9% for the latter.

A run-off featuring Pirc Musar and Kos would see Pirc Musar get 35.2% and Kos 20.7%, with 44.1% of the respondents undecided.

Pirc Musar would get a majority of the votes of those would vote for Logar (68%) and Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič (60%) in the first round, while Kos would be endorsed by supporters of Vajgl (77%) and Senčar (67%).

Delo's analyst Roman Zatler commented on the poll by saying that the difference between Pirc Musar and Logar is too small to make a reliable prediction of who would win the first round of the presidential election.

On the other hand, the difference between Pirc Musar and Kos, and between Logar and Kos is so large that the vice-president of Freedom Movement is very unlikely to surpass either of the two leading candidates.

If the undecided are eliminated from the poll, Pirc Musar would get 59% and Logar 41% of the vote, Zatler said, adding that in a run-off, Pirc Musar would get a majority of the votes of those who would in the first round vote for Kos (93%), Vajgl (79%) and Prebilič (67%), while Logar would get votes from supporters of Krajnik.

23 Aug 2022, 06:39 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Presidential election campaign gets going in earnest

LJUBLJANA - Today was the first day when candidates vying to become Slovenia's president in the 23 October election could submit their bids, and voters can formally support their candidates with signatures. The candidates have until 28 September to submit their candidacy with the National Electoral Commission. A candidate needs to be backed either by 10 MPs, by a party when they need three MP signatures or 3,000 voter signatures, or alternatively with 5,000 verified voter signatures if they run as independents.

SD without own presidential candidate

LJUBLJANA - The coalition Social Democrats (SD) decided they will not field their own candidate in the presidential election and will not endorse any of the candidates running. However, the party might decide to endorse one in a potential run-off, SD leader Tanja Fajon said. The SD had registered 71 potential candidates, but none of them had agreed to running, she explained. The senior coalition Freedom Movement had expressed hope in the past that its two coalition partners, the SD and the Left, would endorse its candidate Marta Kos.

Pirc Musar tops latest Mediana poll, closely followed by Logar

LJUBLJANA - Lawyer and ex-Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar tops the latest public opinion poll measuring support for the presidential election conducted by Mediana for the newspaper Delo. She was picked by 26% of respondents, and is followed by ex-Foreign Minister Anže Logar at just over 23%. Marta Kos, a vice-president of the ruling Freedom Movement, is the only other presidential candidate with a substantial backing (14%). Delo's analyst Roman Zatler commented that the difference between Pirc Musar and Logar is too small to reliably predict who would win the first round.

Lifestyle coach Boris Vene joins presidential race

VRBA - Lifestyle coach Boris Vene joined the expanding list of candidates vying to become the next president of Slovenia. Presenting his bid in his home town of Vrba, he said he had decided to run because he thinks the time has come for prosperity for all people. He is supported by Healthy Society, a civil society group opposing mandatory immunisation of children and the latest changes to the communicable diseases act. Vene has already started collecting the needed 5,000 voter signatures.

Slovenia eligible for EUR 1.8bn in CAP for 2023-2027

GORNJA RADGONA - Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko presented a supplemented draft Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan for 2023-2027 for Slovenia at the Agra agricultural trade fair. Under the strategic plan, EUR 1.1 billion will go for rural development and the remaining EUR 700 million for direct payments, beekeeping and wine making. Šinko said the two main objectives will be to boost self-sufficiency and sustainable development of agriculture. The government will discuss the document in September and then send it to the European Commission.

Police force struggling with staff shortages

LJUBLJANA - Police departments in Slovenia continue to struggle with staffing shortages dating back to austerity measures related to the 2008 financial crisis. The average age of a police officer rises by 4.5 months each year, while unions warn that many officers, especially from the east of the country as the main source of the force's workforce, are having to do extremely long commutes because they cannot afford the cost of housing in urban centres where they are needed the most. The force would need 150-plus new staff a year to replace those who retire or quit.

Religious communities concerned over gay marriage, adoptions

LJUBLJANA - The Council of Christian Churches and the Islamic Community in Slovenia addressed a joint statement to the government and both houses of parliament at the weekend to raise "concern over the changing of fundamental concepts of our society" after the Constitutional Court recently legalised same-sex marriages and adoptions. They say the decision undermines the constitutional provision which says that the state shall protect the family, motherhood, fatherhood, children and young people.

Police looking into claims of rampant sexual abuse

LJUBLJANA - Police launched an investigation in the aftermath of media reports and social media testimonies alleging multiple cases of sexual abuse by a prominent member of the art establishment. The police did not specifying who the suspect may be in Sunday's press release, but several media reported that Dušan Josip Smodej, a 28-year-old artist and leader of small Ljubljana gallery Fotopub, had sexually abused several young women. Smodej denied the claims, urging anyone who "can prove the contrary" to press criminal charges. Today, the police and an NGO urged potential victims to file criminal complaints in the case, and the Culture Ministry condemned all types of violence in a written statement.

More than 2,500 Covid cases logged in past three days

LJUBLJANA - A total of 2,664 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Slovenia from Friday to Sunday in what is practically level with the figure a week ago, and three Covid patients died, fresh official data shows. Yesterday, 94 patients were treated in hospitals for Covid-19 as their main condition, including eight in intensive care, which compares to 92 and nine, respectively, a week ago. There are now an estimated 18,700 active cases in the country.

SKB bank posts 20% rise in H1 profit

LJUBLJANA - The SKB bank, which is owned by the Hungarian OTP Group, posted a net profit of EUR 25.1 million in the first half of the year, an increase of 20% from the same period last year. The bank largely attributed the increase to the overall economic recovery after the Covid-19 epidemic. The bank's return on equity at the end of June was 1.2 percentage points higher than at the beginning of the year, standing at 11.6% percent.

June pay down almost 2% in real terms

LJUBLJANA - Gross pay in Slovenia averaged EUR 2,008 in June, up 0.9% in nominal terms compared to May, but down 1.8% in real terms. The highest average earnings were in finance and insurance, at EUR 2,932. Average net pay amounted to EUR 1,308, a month-on-month increase of 0.8% nominally and a 1.9% drop in real terms, shows the latest data from the Statistics Office. Nominally, the average monthly pay in the first half of this year was broadly level with the figure in the same period in 2021.

Greek film Mikrovioma wins FeKK Grand Prix

LJUBLJANA - The Grand Prix of the 8th annual Short Film Festival (FeKK) that closed at the weekend went to the Greek film Mikrovioma by Stavros Petropoulos. It is about the clash of two worlds - the people living on a Greek island and the scientists researching their long life. The FeKK SLO award went to Sutherland by Matjaž Jamnik and Gaja Naja Rojec "for an interesting portrayal of Christianity among the inhabitants of an African village that the authors framed into a painting that symbolizes their path".

22 Aug 2022, 13:54 PM

STA, 22 August 2022 - The Seascape 18 Open European Championship starts in the seaside resort of Portorož on Monday, featuring 28 sailing boats from six countries. A total of 15 Slovenian crews will take part, including some favourites, the organisers said.

The Seascape 18 class originated in Slovenia as the brand was developed more than ten years ago by two Slovenian ocean sailors - Andraž Mihelin and Kristian Hajnšek.

Seascape 18 is the most popular of the four models of Seascape sailing boats and is one of the fastest developing European sailing classes, the organisers said in a press release.

Portorož will host this class under the European Championship for the third time this year. The event is organised by the local Sailing Club Pirat in cooperation with Yachting Club Portorož and with the support of Marina Portorož that will accommodate the fleet of participating boats.

"We're delighted that the Seascape Class Association has once again entrusted the organisation to Portorož. Our experienced team will definitely deliver a high-standard championship. Seascape 18 is indeed a more recreational class, but such championships feature excellent sailors who, in addition to sailing, want to enjoy socialising and get to know the destination," said Mitja Margon, the former winner of the event and current head of Pirat.

Visit the official website

22 Aug 2022, 10:39 AM

STA, 22 August 2022 - Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian town, will be the main venue of the 26th Days of Poetry and Wine, an international literary festival that will host 20 poets from ten countries. The guests of honour will be Carolyn Forche of the US and Poland's Tomasz Rožycki.

"The festival certainly stands out in terms of the clarity of the concept and the names of poets that are coming," the festival's programme director Aleš Šteger said as he presented the event.

Šteger added that that the festival wanted to be a connecting point and an incubator of ideas, and that some new formats were being introduced this year, with special emphasis on poetry and rap.

"This is how the young Slovenian scene is being built and how connections are made with global trends," he added, noting the Evening of Rebel Poetry event that will feature literary historian Igor Saksida and hip hop and acoustic musician Masayah.

New curator Kristina Kočan, who previously participated in the festival in various roles, also as a poet, said she wanted that the selection featured authors who were generationally, culturally, politically and socially diverse.

"I have chosen authors who are independent and interested in new approaches, because I thought it was important to hear what modern poetry is capable of," Kočan added.

The idea was also to bring poetic voices from small languages, so the visitors will be able to hear poetry in the Catalan, Galician, Frisian and Irish languages.

The festival will continue the tradition of the Open Letter to Europe, with which selected poets point to the most burning issues. This year it was written and will be publicly read at the festival by Galician poet and activist Chus Pato.

More than 60 events such as poetry readings, talks with poets and translation workshops will take place in Ptuj and eight other towns, including Austria's Bad Radkersburg. The festival will conclude on Saturday with the Poetry of Wine culinary event.

Learn more at the website

22 Aug 2022, 10:16 AM

STA, 22 August 2022 - UPDATED 18:45 The police have launched an investigation in the aftermath of media reports and social media testimonies concerning alleged multiple cases of sexual abuse by a prominent member of the art establishment.

The investigation targets "criminal offences highlighted in recent days in the media and in social media," the police said in a statement for the press without specifying who the suspect may be.

The statement comes after several media reported that Dušan Josip Smodej, an artist and leader of a small gallery in Ljubljana called Fotopub, had sexually abused several young women.

The media reports started after an Instagram page called Against Violence by Dušan Smodej was launched. So far more than two dozen testimonies have been published on the page either by individuals claiming to have been abused by Smodej or by people who say they have witnessed abuse of or attempts to abuse young women, including minors, and instances of him giving rape drugs to young women.

Several individuals have also come forward claiming he has defrauded them.

Smodej denied the claims for 24ur, a news portal. He said the allegations were the result of "a female acquaintance of mine who has been sending me death threats this week and is extorting me for money with the posts about me."

"I deny all allegations of sexual violence. If anyone can prove the contrary, I urge them to press criminal charges against me," he said.

The police have urged potential victims to come forward and file criminal complaints.

Potential victims were also urged to report the alleged crimes to the police by the 8 March Institute on Monday. Its director Nika Kovač said the NGO had contacted the administrators of the Instagram profile, letting them know that they can provide support for the victims and help raise funds for legal support.

She underlined that the NGO is following the law in that they would refer to a perpetrator with their name only after they have been found guilty in a court of law.

The institute has been running a campaign dubbed #Ididn'tReport, with victims sharing anonymised stories about why they decided not to go to the police after experiencing abuse.

Many reasons are cited, including fear of what will happen at the relevant institutions, poor experience by others and because victims are often ashamed of having been drunk or under the influence of drugs while being abused.

The police also said today it was investigating "the circumstances of an event in which one person died" to see whether there was a reason to suspect foul play, but added that no foul play had so far been detected.

This is after some media reports unofficially suggested that prominent artist Roman Uranjek had committed suicide, allegedly in connection to the Smodej scandal.

The Culture Ministry meanwhile responded by condemning all types of violence on Monday. Minister Asta Vrečko called for zero tolerance to violence, including in culture, and announced systemic measures.

She noted that a trial had just started where an ex-professor from the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television is being accused of sexual harassment of female students. "So it is obvious that we have a problem with sexual harassment in the culture sector and it needs to be absolutely and clearly condemned in the strongest terms," she said, adding that sexual violence was a major social issue that was not being addressed properly.

The ministry has launched a review of all its past projects with Smodej, she added in a written statement.

22 Aug 2022, 06:22 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Irwin, NSK founder Uranjek dies

LJUBLJANA - Roman Uranjek, one of the founders of two the most influential Slovenian contemporary arts collectives, Irwin and Neue Slowenische Kunst, has died aged 60, several media reported. Born in Trbovlje in 1961, Uranjek entered the art scene with the Irwins in 1983. The group became known for appropriating the iconography of social realism, Nazi propaganda, sacral art, and archetypical images of Slovenian art.

Jorgić takes silver at European Table Tennis Championship

MUNICH, Germany - Darko Jorgić won silver at the European Table Tennis Championship, the best result ever for a Slovenian table tennis player. Jorgić, ranked eighth in the world, lost 1:4 (10:12, 14:12, 11:8, 11:9, 11:2) to Germany's Dang Qiu, number 13 in the global rankings.

Kayaker Osterman adds bronze to silver at European Championship

MUNICH, Germany - Anja Osterman finished third in the women's 500-metre kayak event at the European Championship, to add bronze to the silver she won in the 200-metre event the day before. As the competitors crossed the finish line Osterman appeared to have missed bronze by a whisker, but the photo finish showed her neck-and-neck with Emma Jorgensen of Denmark.

21 Aug 2022, 11:36 AM

STA, 21 August 2022- Roman Uranjek, one of the founders of two the most influential Slovenian contemporary arts collectives, Irwin and Neue Slowenische Kunst, has died aged 60, several media have reported.

Born in Trbovlje in 1961, Uranjek entered the art scene with the Irwins in 1983, creating an an arts phenomenon whose influence stretches from the 1980s to the present.

The group became known for appropriating the iconography of social realism, Nazi propaganda, sacral art and archetypical images of Slovenian art, according to Delo newspaper.

In parallel he pursued his own artistic career and is best known for his project At Least a Cross a Day, which he launched in 2002.

The series contains over 25,000 crosses, a symbol closely associated with Irwin, that he created until his death.

Works by Irwin are part of major international arts collections and have been exhibited in the most prominent galleries in the world.

21 Aug 2022, 03:47 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

20 Aug 2022, 18:37 PM

STA, 20 August 2022 - The government has decided to subsidise agricultural reproductive material to help farmers overcome the high cost of energy. Some 43,000 farms will be eligible for a total of EUR 15 million funds earmarked at a correspondence session Friday evening.

Adopted as part of the measures to address growing food prices, the move aims to lower food production costs in primary agricultural production.

The war in Ukraine is having severe effects on the agricultural sector, as high energy prices are driving up the production costs, including through increasingly more expensive reproduction materials, such as fertilisers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said last night.

Agricultural Institute data shows that production cost for a hectare of wheat has grown from EUR 578 last year to EUR 937, according to preliminary data for this year.

Similar hikes are being reported for other crops. The increase is lower only in some permanent crops. The main reason for this are hikes in fertiliser prices, which had already gone up at the end of 2021 and continued to grow heavily in 2022.

The government earmarked EUR 15 million for the measure. Based on surface area data and other documentation, the ministry believes some 43,000 farms will be eligible for the funds.

19 Aug 2022, 22:49 PM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA

Damage assessment under way after cyberattack on Disaster Relief Admin

LJUBLJANA - The information system of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration was the target of a cyberattack on Wednesday with damage assessment still under way. Being that the civil rescue system is one of the three pillars of national security, Uroš Svete, the head of the Government Information Security Office, sees the attack as a very serious incident. The administration said 112 emergency call service and alert centres were not disrupted but some internet an e-mail services were.

Interior minister accuses SDS of political manipulation

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar accused MPs of the opposition Democrats (SDS) of political manipulation following their claims that the removal of the border fence between Slovenia and Croatia led to a surge in the number of migrants entering Slovenia illegally. The SDS is reported to be planning an ouster motion against the minister, claiming she is knowingly opening the border to illegal migrants and exposing citizens to danger. Bobnar said removal of the fence had no effect on migration.

Govt adopts guidance for hybrid work in state admin

LJUBLJANA - The government has adopted guidance on hybrid work in the state administration, recommending for employees to work one day from home, two from the office and two mixed days, depending on the needs. The hybrid system would only be used where possible and in agreement between the employees and their superior. The 1 plus 2 plus 2 hybrid model is also being introduced by the European Commission for its staff. The government recommends work from home to remain an option beyond the Covid-19 epidemic.

Probanka execs, entrepreneur get prison sentences

MARIBOR - The Maribor District Court sentenced to jail an entrepreneur and two board members of the former Probanka bank over the latter's overpriced sale of shares of NKBM bank to the entrepreneur in 2008. Each received a year and eight months in prison. The main defendant, the Velenje-based entrepreneur Tomaž Ročnik, was found guilty of abuse of office or trust, while bankers Milana Lah and Peter Lobnik were found to be complicit. The ruling is not yet final.

Alfi also acquiring Merkur store premises manager

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that after acquiring the hardware retailer Merkur Trgovina, the private equity fund Alfi now also reached agreement to acquire a stake in the company managing the store premises. The deal, which is yet to be signed, was reached with the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), which holds a 62% stake in Merkur Nepremičnine. Delo says the deal is unofficially valued at substantially more than EUR 10 million. In addition Alfi agreed to buy the company's EUR 13 million debt to BAMC and with the debt bought before would become the sole financial creditor of Merkur Nepremičnine.

Luzar's Orchestra wins award at Beijing Film Festival

BEIJING, China - Slovenian director Matevž Luzar won the film direction award in the Forward Future section of the 12th Beijing International Film Festival for The Orchestra, a story of a wind orchestra travelling to a music festival in a small Austrian town. The award jury has recognised Luzar for his "sensitive and cheerful narrative about the misadventures of a brass band on tour in a twinned Austrian city," the Slovenian Film Centre said.

Čeh takes discus silver at European Championships

MUNICH, Germany - Kristjan Čeh won silver in the men's discuss throw at the European Athletics Championships in Munich on Friday, having to concede to Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania, who broke the championship record with 69.78 metres in the fifth attempt to win gold. Čeh, the current world champion, sent his implement out to 68.28 metres in the fifth round for his best mark in the competition. Čeh's is the tenth medal for Slovenia at European Athletics Championships.

New coronavirus cases up by 9% week-on-week

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,387 new coronavirus cases were logged in Slovenia on Thursday in what is a 9% increase week-on-week. Two patients with Covid-19 died, data from the Health Ministry shows. A total of 87 patients still require hospital treatment for Covid as their main condition, including 12 who need intensive care. The overall number is down by one, while the number of ICU patients is up by one compared to yesterday.

19 Aug 2022, 10:49 AM

STA, 18 August 2022 - A 1,530-metre tunnel that will make part of on an upgraded rail track connecting Maribor and Šentilj on the border with Austria was broken through on Thursday with the first train to run through it by the end of next year. The old tunnel will make part of a new cycling path.

The Maribor-Šentilj rail upgrade is valued at almost EUR 300 million, which makes it the biggest rail project in the country at the moment apart from the construction of a new rail track between Koper and Divača on the other side of the country.

The cost of the construction of the Pekel tunnel and a 900-metre-long Pesnica viaduct is valued at EUR 101 million.

The Pekel tunnel is located north of Maribor, to the east of the existing rail track, which is running through the Počehova tunnel. The new tunnel also includes a rescue tunnel.

"The new tunnel will make traffic faster and above all much safer, and the old one will be used more sustainably for cycling," Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Alenka Bratušek said.

"The tunnel is being built using the so-called new Austrian method," Dejan Jurkovič of the Infrastructure Agency said.

The contractor is the Slovenian company Kolektor. "Our workers have proved that we perform work professionally, at high-quality, fast and efficiently," the company's representative Andrej Košir said.

One of the major challenges was the construction of the section below the expressway running through Maribor. "The tunnel is about seven metres below the motorway. Here, the daily progress was between one and one and a half metres, while on the north side it was about four metres," said Jurkovič.

The tunnel's construction is slated for completion by March 2023 after which it needs to be fitted with a track and other equipment. It is to open to traffic by the end of next year. "Traffic is expected to be moved from the old tunnel to the new one in late 2023," said Jurkovič.

The EU-subsidised upgrade of the 18-kilometre Maribor-Šentilj railway also includes what Jurkovič said would be the longest rail tunnel in Slovenia. The Pesnica tunnel is to be completed in spring next year and will wrap up the rail upgrade project.

Following the upgrade, trains will be able to travel at speeds of up to 120 km/h, up from the current top speed of 80 km/h. The number of trains the track can handle will increase from 63 to 84 a day, and cargo capacity from 6.3 to 9.9 million tonnes a year.

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