Interior Minister Says Zero Tolerance for Šiško’s Paramilitaries, Police Deny Involvement

By , 05 Sep 2018, 19:26 PM Politics
Interior Minister Says Zero Tolerance for Šiško’s Paramilitaries, Police Deny Involvement Slovenka TV Facebook

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STA, 4 September 2018 - Outgoing Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar has joined the strong condemnations of an attempt to form a paramilitary unit in the Štajerska region. She said any kind of parallel armed structures, spreading of hate and undermining of the Constitution and law were completely unacceptable. 

Responding to the footage of a few hundred masked men in military outfits, some of them holding assault rifles or axes, Györkös Žnidar said on Tuesday that Slovenia was a modern, orderly and safe country where the powers and tasks of all the parts of the national security system were clearly defined.

She confirmed the police were already investigating into a gathering this Saturday in the Pohorje woods near Maribor led by former fringe presidential candidate Andrej Šiško, who heads the nationalist non-parliamentary United Slovenia party.

"I do believe that everyone else also recognised in these scenes an inappropriate demonstration of extremely contentious ideas that this country does not and will not permit," the minister added.

Prime Minister-designate Marjan Šarec responded on Twitter, saying that the members of the defence and security forces of Slovenia were the only legal guardians of the country. "Any other 'lining up' is illegal and undermines the constitutional and legal order," he added.

While Šiško, who used to head the Maribor football club ultras Viole, insists that this "voluntary defence group of the free people of the Štejarska region" is not a paramilitary unit, security experts claim differently.

The incident has also been condemned by other top officials in the country, including by President Borut Pahor and outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who both called it completely unacceptable.

Police deny involvement

STA, 5 September 2018 - The news of a paramilitary unit led by former fringe presidential candidate Andrej Šiško continues to raise dust, as more details about the alleged para-military activity have emerged. An internal probe is under way at the Slovenian police to disperse suspicion of police involvement.

Šiško, the head of the nationalist non-parliamentary United Slovenia party, told the STA on Tuesday that he had not been contacted by police about the issue yet but he expected their visit shortly.

He noted that he was well informed about police activities and that police were trying to contact members of the group, which he calls the Štajerska Guard, who appeared in a video and photographs that went viral.

The footage showed a group of about a hundred masked men in military outfit, some of them holding assault rifles or axes, lined up in a wooded area, reportedly last Saturday.

Šiško said that "police are mostly on our side along with the intelligence services."

He said the training, which he alleged had been conducted for over a year, was led by people with experience in the army. He mentioned former senior army officers, not necessarily only of the Slovenian Armed Forces.

Police told the STA today they had no information on involvement of any police officers in the activity but that an internal investigation was under way.

According to the General Police Administration, the alleged para-military activity in the Štajerska region is being thoroughly investigated.

The issue will be also discussed by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Service Oversight Commission on 17 September.

The forming of the paramilitary unit has been met with condemnation, including by President Borut Pahor, outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar and PM-designate Marjan Šarec, who called it completely unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), Janez Janša, described the whole situation as a smokescreen conspiracy orchestrated by "the deep state", adding on Twitter that the association of WWII veterans was behind Šiško.

The association rejected this today and joined the wide condemnation of such activities.

The story has also attracted the attention of foreign media.

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