STA, 25 October 2021 - Media have reported that Prime Minister Janez Janša and Defence Minister Matej Tonin on Friday received death threats by mail, with live ammunition being enclosed in the letters. The threats sent to the politicians' home addresses were later confirmed by the prime minister's office and Tonin himself.
Janša, who is the president of the Democrats (SDS), has also been sent photographs on which targets were drawn on his face and the faces of his family members.
In the threatening letter, the unknown sender told Janša that "teams are waiting for the command", that the prime minister was the "first to go down", and that the same fate awaited the supporters of the government.
Tonin, on the other hand, was reproached for being calculating by choosing political sides, and threatened that he would not get to see the next general election. The letter said that they "know all his whereabouts, so security will not be able to help him."
The police confirmed having opened an investigation into the matter. Stojan Belšak, head of the organised crime unit of the Ljubljana Police Department, told the press that threatening letters including live ammunition had also been received by two parliamentary deputy groups and the leader of the National Party (SNS) Zmago Jelinčič.
Investigators have already been dispatched to individual addresses to "investigate these despicable acts and ensure the safety of both the top officials and all other Slovenian citizens", said Belšak.
Two years in prison is one of the potential sanctions for such a crime, he pointed out, noting that these investigations were complex. It is still being established whether the same suspect was involved in all the cases.
According to news portal N1, a week ago Tonin's home was visited by two unknown men who posed as providers of telecommunication measurements. It turned out later that the two had been detained by the police at one of the Wednesday protests against the Covid pass mandate over attacks on police officers.
However, Belšak said that in this case the police had found that the lives of Tonin's family members or himself had not been in danger, highlighting that this was an accidental event.
Responding to the developments, parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič condemned in the strongest terms all threats made against politicians or any other human being. He also pointed out that following death threats received by Janša and Tonin, suspicious mail was also detected by National Assembly staff.
Zorčič called on politicians to take a step back and show tolerance in their communication, particularly on social media. "I think that, ultimately, it is up to each politician, or whoever is the target of the threat, to assess how threatened they feel. But given that some politicians themselves communicate in a similar way, it is of course difficult for them to claim today that they have been threatened by anyone," Zorčič said, confirming that was in reference to Jelinčič.
President Borut Pahor pledged to do his best for violence to be banished from the Slovenian society, as he expressed concern about "the tone of public debate" in the country.
"When the broadest public begins to feel that politicians are not trying hard enough to listen and hear each other, the impression is created it is legitimate to use [...] ugly and disrespectful language. And that if it's not ugly, disrespectful and rude, it's not heard."
"I'd like us to understand that this can lead to a situation where threats of violence - something we have witnessed in recent days - become our reality," said Pahor, adding it was key to state loud and clear that violent behaviour, threats and riots "have no place in Slovenia's democratic society and must be rejected by all of us".
The SDS condemned in the strongest terms the threats, noting they targeted Janša, Tonin, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and deputy groups of the SNS and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).
The ruling party believes that these crimes are a direct consequence of what it sees as institutions' passivity, media creating a climate of tolerance to violence, and the opposition's conduct, saying that the latter is incapable of clearly condemning violence, and in some places even fuels it.
The SDS expects from the competent institutions to treat the case with the utmost seriousness and from officials to condemn the threats. "At the same time, we expect that politicians who are threatened or feel threatened will receive adequate protection," the party said.
The prime minister's office said that Janša had responded to the threats on Twitter where he said that Slovenia had been waiting for "seven long years" to see Pahor condemn the threats in the same way he did when he had been threatened as prime minister.
Denouncing the threats, Minister Hojs said he was surprised not all political parties did the same. He expressed the expectation for police to do everything in their power to track down the perpetrators.
He said the threats were also partly due to "rather mild or in my view inappropriate response by the prosecution in the past", noting that prosecution decided not to prosecute similar threats in the past.
NSi deputy group head Jožef Horvat said the party condemned any death threats and expected from the competent authorities to react decisively to find those responsible for these crimes. He also noted that hatred or intolerance picked its targets regardless of their political affiliation, urging everyone to commit to peaceful behaviour.