Fifth Week of Anti-Govt Cycling Protests in Ljubljana, Focus on Corruption, Attacks on Civil Society (Videos)

By , 23 May 2020, 08:08 AM Politics
Police in Trg republike (Republic Square) in front of Parliament, Ljubljana Police in Trg republike (Republic Square) in front of Parliament, Ljubljana Tadej Reissner

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STA, 22 May 2020 - The cycling protests against the government's actions and policies continued for the fifth Friday running, with several thousand protesters reported again in Ljubljana. Signatures for the resignation of the government started to get collected, while one group also expressed support to the government.

Before the evening protest in parliament square - whose police-controlled section got a large 'our property' sign in the afternoon - a stream of cyclists occupied the streets around Parliament House, while the protesters also ventured to Ljubljana's main thoroughfare, Dunajska street, and the Environment Ministry located there.

The government's clampdown on environmental NGOs has been among the protesters' main grievances in recent weeks, after the protests were initially galvanised by revelations of alleged heavy political meddling in the purchases of PPE and ventilators during the coronavirus epidemic and PM Janez Janša's clash with the media.

The Ljubljana Anarchist Initiative, one of the unofficial organisers, wrote that millions of euros from the public budget continued to be appropriated by political and economic elites under the guise of a state of emergency.

"We've broken the curse of the epidemic, now we need to be break the virus of the holders of power," they wrote, while rejecting any kind of political meddling in the protests.

A novelty this week was the collecting of signatures for the government's resignation, while some of the participating groups also specified their demands.

The list by one of the more prominent groups includes the "end of corruption, of disrespectful public speech, fomenting of divisions, of hate and fear...end of attacks on civil society ...on independent media...the end of putting the interests of capital before the benefits of people and the environment".

Another new development was a group of a dozen men, allegedly motor-bikers, who formed a line in front of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija wearing yellow vests that spelled out "thank you government!"

PM Janša meanwhile lashed out against the protesters by comparing them to the self-styled paramilitary units or nationalist home guards that recently made headlines, arguing both were extremely offensive to the police.

The comment by Janša, who has also labelled the protesters as 'caviar socialists', came after 50 home guards in uniform visited a local police station last Sunday in protest over a police inquiry into a training camp they had held nearby.

Smaller cycling protests were again also held in some other cities. Several hundred protesters reportedly gathered in Maribor.

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