STA, 15 May 2020 - Despite poor weather and the ban on public gathering which has been in place for two months due to the coronavirus epidemic, several thousand protesters took to the streets of Slovenian cities once again on Friday, expressing dissatisfaction with the government's policies.
As has become customary during the coronavirus epidemic lockdown, most protesters were riding their bikes, some were on scooters, while other walked through the streets of city centres.
Cycling in Ljubljana#biking #cycling #protest #rainyday #spring #bikeprotest #people #streetphotography #Ljubljana #Slovenia #EU #europe #democracy #beauty #anticorruption #antigovernment #freedom #honesty #vladapada #samsung #sgs20ultra #ThisIsSloveniahttps://t.co/OeHdA42e6y pic.twitter.com/vldu4PYCok— Matija Nose (@TheMatN) May 15, 2020
In Ljubljana, they moved in circles in the greater area of the Parliament House, before gathering in Republic Square in front of the building.
For the fourth consecutive Friday, protesters rang their bells and honked horns, shouting paroles like "thieves" and "we won't give up freedom".
The rallies have been organised by several initiatives, including the Facebook group Balcony Protest, which said that the government had encroached on people's freedom under the guise of anti-epidemic measures.
The initiative was launched at the start of the lockdown, with people placing banners critical of their government in their windows. A few weeks ago, the protest gained momentum following revelations of political interference in the procurement of medical and protective equipment.
Initiative Slovenia Wake Up and a Facebook group supporting the whistleblower who revealed the political meddling have also invited people to take to the streets. Some protesters criticised the government as lacking transparency, being corrupt and stealing taxpayers' money.
Meanwhile, the protests gained an environmental aspect after legislative changes were passed restricting the involvement of NGOs in procedures to acquire environmental and construction permits.
Some protesters are bothered by the "arrogance" of the government and its "demeaning and inappropriate" attitude towards people and the media, and there was also criticism of Foreign Minister Anže Logar's letter to the European Commission in which he criticised Slovenia's judiciary.
The 8 March Institute meanwhile warned that the measures designed by the government to address the challenges of the coronavirus epidemic further deepened hardships of many and deepened the existing balance of power. They say that the government had ignored experts and has subjected the police and military forces to itself.
The Movement for Social Responsibility meanwhile wonders whether the government will stop the "ideological battles" against the media, intellectuals, the judiciary and civil organisations.
The biggest anti-government protest took place a week ago, when, according to the police, some 5,500 people took to the streets in Ljubljana alone, while some media reports placed the number as high as 10,000.
As the protests grew louder over the past month, an initiative was started in support of the government. A petition of support for the cabinet has meanwhile been signed by more than 20,000 people.
They say that they will organise rallies as well, but only after public assembly restrictions are lifted.