Ljubljana related

23 May 2020, 08:08 AM

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.

22 May 2020, 13:29 PM

STA, 22 May 2020 - Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out that tourism was the mainstay of Slovenia's economy and announced that the season would kick off on 1 June. He assured that holidaying in Slovenia would be safe in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, adding the country strived for lifting border restrictions.

The BBC News show highlighted that Slovenia was the first country in Europe to declare the end of the coronavirus epidemic.

Janša told the show that Slovenia was striving to ensure all the tourism facilities would be safe. He pointed out that all the guests would be treated in line with public health guidelines.

To make sure that the country is a safe holiday destination, the coronavirus will have to be eradicated, he said, highlighting that in the past two weeks Slovenia recorded only one or zero cases of infection with coronavirus on a daily basis. The confirmed cases can be isolated, he added.

"The epidemic in Slovenia is now under total control," Janša said in a conversation which he shared on his Twitter on Friday.

"Slovenia will do everything that holidays in Slovenia will be totally safe," he highlighted, adding that safety measures will have to be heeded.

Almost 90% of tourism facilities which are available during normal times will be welcoming guests during the so-called new normality as well, he said, pointing out that nightclubs were still off-limits.

The prime minister confirmed that Slovenia was discussing with its neighbouring countries to lift the border restrictions on its internal EU borders in mid-June after deciding to lift almost all restrictions on the border with Croatia.

Slovenia is also closely monitoring the epidemiological status in the neighbouring countries; Italy could represent a risk, however the situation in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, the Italian region closest to the border with Slovenia, has been promising, according to Janša.

"I think that our region will be the first to lift the border restrictions which will especially help the touristic season to be safe as much as possible," he said and invited people to visit Slovenia. "Welcome to Slovenia, it's a safe country."

22 May 2020, 10:19 AM

STA, 21 May 2020 - After the Supreme Court quashed a guilty ruling in a defamation case brought against PM Janez Janša by a journalist over an insulting tweet, the Celje Higher Court has rejected Janša's appeal in a separate case filed against him by the other journalist mentioned in the controversial tweet.

The Celje Court has rejected Janša's appeal in the defamation case brought against him by RTV Slovenija journalist Evgenija Carl in which he was ordered to pay EUR 6,000 in damages for calling her a "washed-up prostitute" on Twitter.

The court thus upheld a previous ruling by the Velenje Local Court, and ordered Janša to also pay for the legal costs in the amount of EUR 513.

Carl brought the defamation suit over Janša's Twitter post in March 2016 reading "the FB page of the public house is offering cheap services by washed up prostitutes Evgenija C. and Mojca P.Š. One for 30 euros, the other for 35. #PimpMilan".

The Celje Higher Court said that Carl was not a prostitute but a respectable and professional journalist with a long career in journalism. The tweet affected her very much and caused her emotional pain.

It added that Carl was well known for her moral traits and professionalism and therefore a respectable person, which was why the EUR 6,000 in damages was an appropriate financial compensation for her emotional pain.

The other journalist mentioned in the tweet, Mojca Šetinc Pašek, a journalist and editor with TV Slovenija, also sued Janša and both journalists brought criminal charges against him.

But at the beginning of the month, the Supreme Court quashed a ruling that ordered Janša to pay EUR 6,000 to Šetinc Pašek, arguing that like Janša, she was a public figure, for whom "the boundaries of permissible criticism are broader than with private persons".

Šetinc Pašek described the judgement as "outright scandalous", and announced she would take her case to the Constitutional Court.

In the criminal procedure Janša was sentenced to a three-month suspended sentence by the Celje District Court in November 2018, but the Celje Higher Court ordered a retrial last year.

16 May 2020, 15:23 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 15 March 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Janša's coalition partners are in tight spot

STA, 15 May 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina argues in Friday's editorial that the coalition partners of PM Janez Janša are genuinely shocked that Janša broke his promise that he will not bring up ideological topics. They risked a lot by joining this coalition, and now they are scared, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says under the headline Suffering Coalition Partners.

It is funny, but everyone from New Slovenia (NSi) to the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) is shocked by Janša's moves against the media, attacks on NGOs, his ministers' letters to the Council of Europe, European Commission and foreign media, and his undermining of the country's "entire immune system" from police to oversight over money laundering.

By joining this coalition, the parties risked a lot and they knew that what is happening now could happen. Yet Janša's sweet promises that they could make it were tempting.

The other option was bad and they picked what at least seemingly postponed their problems for two years.

They now admit that the cold shower came as early as the first government session. "Aggression, disrespect and cultural battle, it started immediately. But because of the crisis they kept quiet, hoping that the public will forget all about it because of the crisis. And that Janša will deal with 'his things' and then they will have peace."

Everyone was initially shocked because of coronavirus and because Janša became prime minister, Repovž says.

But this week, coalition partners started raising their voices. Very gently. Matej Tonin of the NSi erased his mildly critical tweet, but he did send out a signal. Aleksandra Pivec of DeSUS stated first criticism, and Janja Sluga of the SMC added some concern to her speeches.

Actually, the coalition partners are afraid. They know what they have got themselves into. At first they were afraid of their leader and they are also afraid of a potential election.

Their actions now show that they realise that Janša and his followers went too far in their spreading of hatred and revenge, and that there is no way back.

Janša's previous government was not swept away in 2013 by protesters but by coalition partners. Some of them knew this will be the end of their political career but did not care. Well, now the coalition partners are in the same tight spot.

They know they cannot uphold the politics that Janša is outlining because it runs contrary to their fundamental beliefs. But they also know he will not want to be distracted.

Reporter: The case for case unbiased journalism

STA, 11 May 2020 – The right-wing Reporter magazine argues in Monday's commentary that journalists should close ranks and fight political pressure no matter whether it comes from the left and the right, as it looks at attacks on the media, in particular a TV Slovenija show which reported about irregularities in the purchasing of personal protective equipment.

Making the case for unbiased reporting, Reporter's editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says politicians tend to support media when their political opponents are under the spotlight but change tack when the spotlight shines on them.

"Our people are always spotless and as such untouchable. In a black-and-white world one knows in advance who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. The most fervent political supporters are not convinced by any fact, any document, any whistleblower."

The commentator says journalists should in principle always keep a professional distance, which is sadly not always the case in practice since journalists, politicians and ordinary people often see the role of the media through their own interests and political preferences.

"Journalists should be interested in the facts and they should do their job as politically impartially as possible, using the same standards for all political blocs, regardless of the editorial policy of their media."

"But there are few media in Slovenia that criticise both when that is necessary. Instead, we are witness to the utterly absurd and perverse situation of media that like to beat their chests for being 'on the frontlines of the service of the truth' having the strongest political bias. They were founded by politicians who use them as their fist, just like the Communist Party used to to," Šurla says about Nova24TV, which was founded by SDS politicians.

"Such partisan media are now at the frontlines of spewing bile on those who are trying to be independent of politics and are uncovering scandals of whichever government is in power, be it left or right. This is in reality the most hideous political and propaganda machinery disguised as media."

Turning to the Tarča (Target) news show, the commentator says that there had been no untouchables for the show, which had reported about scandals ranging from a 3D model of the Koper-Divača rail track in the Miro Cerar government to the construction of the Stožice sports complex in Ljubljana and the purchasing of egregiously priced stents at hospitals.

It quotes the authors of Tarča writing that those who had praised the show not long ago and demanded changes are now slinging mud at them, while those who dismissed the show as populist are now applauding.

"And we're back at 'us' and 'them', the perverted attitude of politics to the media in a democratic society. It is therefore high time that journalists close ranks and show solidarity with their Tarča colleagues and to clearly say that such pogroms must stop. Today they are on the stakes, tomorrow it will be us," the paper concludes in Today Tarča, Tomorrow You.

All our posts in this series are here

16 May 2020, 06:36 AM

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.

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.

14 May 2020, 21:37 PM

STA, 14 May 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed allegations of government misconduct in the purchasing of protective personal equipment as he argued in parliament on Thursday that quick action saved dozens of lives after the government was faced with empty stockpiles of protective gear when it took office a day after the epidemic was declared.

Purchasing of protective equipment and critical medical supplies was conducted in line with legislation that allows short procedures in an epidemic, Janša said as he delivered the opening address in a parliamentary debate on a government report on PPE purchases.

But being aware of the risks, the government made sure all contracts were made public and it urged the Court of Audit to conduct a review of the procedures, with the coalition itself proposing a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

Critics have accused the government of making the wrong choice by opting to secure equipment through intermediaries rather than directly from suppliers, but Janša dismissed the criticism.

He said providers initially demanded advance payments for the equipment and since these demands escalated the decision was made to try to purchase the equipment without advance payment.

He said many other countries opted to pay suppliers in advance but received either gear without the proper certificates or did not receive the orders at all.

"I don't know of a single European country where this did not happen. I talked to many colleagues. All had these same problems. I think Slovenia lost by far the least, if anything," he stressed.

Indeed, he said even the recent EU delivery of 30,000 surgical face masks was problematic and illustrated the general problems with supplies, as Slovenia was just today told that the equipment did not have proper certificates and should not be distributed to users.

Slovenia has so far paid about EUR 30 million for the supplies. "Everything that had been paid has also been delivered."

The government has also been criticised for picking untested intermediaries for the supplies, but Janša suggested the scandal erupted because existing suppliers, who had high margins, did not get in on the game.

Indeed, he said "those in charge who are now referred to as whistleblowers" had before that signed contracts with high margins with old suppliers, a reference to the deputy head of the Commodities Reserves Agency Ivan Gale, who accused senior officials of exerting undue pressure on the agency in the course of the purchasing.

"And now attention is of course being deflected. But every contract can be individually examined, there is no problem about that."

Janša said the events would now mean that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek would "probably have to attend various commissions of inquiry for three years after the epidemic ends" to explain the purchasing.

"But this was a time when lives were at stake and what he did during that time, together with many colleagues ... saved dozens of lives."

The coalition parties echoed Janša's views, including Počivalšek's Modern Centre Party (SMC), which argued it had been warning former PM Marjan Šarec while still in his government that he was reacting too slowly.

The coalition shares the view that a good job had been done in unprecedented circumstances, that the responsible authorities should be allowed to do their work and that the finger-pointing should stop.

The opposition parties however did not hold back in their statements, with words like "theft", "crime" and "war profiteering" being used time and time again.

Former PM Šarec, who said the government report was not worth the paper it was printed on, rejected the accusations levelled against him, noting borders and schools had been closed, large events banned and visits to elderly homes prohibited already under his watch.

The opposition parties demand that the PPE purchases be investigate throughput, with Miha Kordiš of the Left for instance accusing Economy Minister Zdravko Polivalšek of lying when saying no advance payments were being made.

Kordiš also argued other countries had used their diplomatic network for the procurement, while Slovenia refused to do so. "You will pay back the commissions with interest," he said.

The session ended with a 50:0 vote confirming the government's report on PPE procurement, which pointed the finger at the previous government while mostly praising the current one. The vote was however boycotted by four opposition parties, which said it should not have been allowed procedurally.

All our stories on this can be found here

12 May 2020, 19:25 PM

STA, 12 May 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša makes the case for confrontation with the media in an essay entitled War with the Media, in which he argues that keeping silent while media wage war is not an option and has damaging effects on society.

Janša starts out by saying he used to subscribe to the notion that you cannot win the war with the media, until seven years ago, when he had a conversation with an old friend of Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor.

The man told him that in Ancient Rome fear of the Roman legions had been a stronger weapon than the legionnaires' spears and swords.

In the ensuing debate by intellectuals from several countries three main conclusions were drawn.

Firstly, a media outlet deserving of its name will never declare criticism against it as an attack on freedom of the press or even a war on media.

Secondly, those denigrated by the media have lost if they consent to the notion that there is no point in arguing with the media.

And thirdly, the media declare criticism of their fake or manipulative reports as war, and then they accuse the targets of media hit jobs of waging war against them.

"And the lukewarm portion of 'public' opinion boiled in lukewarm water widely nods, acknowledging that 'war with the media cannot be won'," Janša says.

"The professional group in western civilisation that first declared itself the seventh power, then the fourth (unelected) branch of power and finally the moral judge of political correctness, is increasingly difficult to recognise today as a force for good, for they are neither."

This is becoming increasingly clear with better education and internet access, which "drastically shatter the emerging idolators of Orwellian society and raise the hope that western civilisation will not suffer the fate of the (W) Roman Empire," according to Janša.

The prime minister goes on to make the case for media plurality, noting that individuals cannot wage war with the media, but media themselves can and should be engaged in a "media war" in the sense of presenting competing views.

"In a democratic society different values must have opportunities for expression and advocacy of their ideas that are as equal as possible."

"Media competition is more important than any other [competition], indeed, it is the precondition for a democratic social system and a free society in general," Janša says.

Turning specifically to Slovenian media, Janša singles out RTV Slovenija as he takes issue with the public broadcaster's statement that a public radio and television service is a bedrock of a free society and attacks on it are attacks on democracy.

He then flips the situation by wondering how the broadcaster would react if the government made the same declaration in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic.

"Can you imagine the reaction by the 'public radio and TV'? If yes, it is perfectly clear where we are and just how profound the depravity is of those who declare themselves a 'bedrock of a free society' without an election or constitutional procedure or any kind of shame."

Janša goes on to say that both largest TV stations have many capable, professional and ethical journalists but these cannot make their mark because of "incendiary editorial policy and management".

"The atmosphere of intolerance and hatred is created by a narrow circle of [female] editors with familial and capital ties to the pillars of the deep state and a handful of average and below-average journalists on demand who would not even make it as reporters from the produce market in a normal media outlet."

For Janša, these are signs of totalitarianism. "Totalitarians typically disarmed their opponents before they shot them. First in the media and then physically. First discrediting, then liquidating. Physically if necessary."

The prime minister argues that "well-meaning and god-fearing individuals" are making this possible.

"Perhaps in the lukewarm water you did not even notice that death threats and appeal to murder at leftist rallies are treated by RTV Slovenija, POP TV and other 'media' from the same flock as something 'normal', self-evident even."

"In fact they are boiling you, not the government," he says in reference to the slow boiling of a live frog.

Noting the difficult situation Slovenia is facing as it battles the coronavirus epidemic and the coming economic crisis, Janša says that the destructive consequences can only be overcome if the nation stands together, whereby irresponsible conduct by a few can put everyone else at risk.

"Slovenia can do it, but it cannot do it divided. This requires active effort for the common good and a strong voice, a voice without fake 'political correctness', the voice of each individual against incitement, the creation of additional emergencies and irresponsible actions."

The essay, which was released on the government website on Monday evening, has been criticised by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) and Left.

The SD's MEP Tanja Fajon labelled it inadmissible, low-minded and shameful, and an abuse of the institution of prime minister against freedom of the press by means of a rhetoric used by US President Donald Trump.

Fajon added that her colleagues in Brussels were frequently asking her about what was going on in Slovenia and followed the developments with concern.

The Left's leader Luka Mesec told the press that Janša had used a populist rhetoric of undermining the media and other authorities in society, but by doing so, he was only expressing his "authoritarian tendencies".

The coalition partners of Janša's Democrats (SDS) in the government are also reserved about the prime minister's views, with the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) announcing it could reconsider its further cooperation if ideological topics should prevail over projects the party had committed to in the coalition agreement.

Although she has not yet read Janša's piece, DeSUS leader Aleksandra Pivec said it was extremely disturbing that one's personal ideological views interfered with real work.

"We're interested in implementing the projects to which we have committed within the coalition. We would like to distance ourselves from various personal views and writings ...," she told the press.

Unhappy with Janša's way of communication, the Modern Centre Party (SMC) said it believes in the professionalism and independence of the media. "This manner of communication between politics and the media certainly does not enhance the credibility of either side, the media and politicians," said deputy group leader Janja Sluga.

New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin took to Twitter saying that both the media and politicians carry a lot of responsibility and that truth is the value that every politician and every media outlet must pursue. "Objective reporting is what builds democracy, bias disables it," he tweeted.

07 May 2020, 08:08 AM

STA, 6 May 2020 - The Supreme Court has quashed a ruling that ordered the incumbent prime minister, Janez Janša, to pay EUR 6,000 in damages to a journalist for calling her a "washed-up prostitute" in a tweet. The journalist has announced she will take her case to the Constitutional Court.

The Supreme Court rejected the journalist's damages claim after upholding Janša's appeal against the December 2018 ruling by the Celje Higher Court that upheld an earlier decision by the local court in Velenje ordering Janša to pay damages to Mojca Šetinc Pašek, a journalist and editor with TV Slovenija.

Šetinc Pašek brought the defamation suit over Janša's post on his Twitter profile in March 2016 reading "the FB page of the public house is offering cheap services by washed up prostitutes Evgenija C. and Mojca P.Š. One for 30 euros, the other for 35. #ZvodnikMilan".

The Supreme Court has ascertained that an average follower of Janša's Twitter profile could understand the tweet referred to Šetinc Pašek's work for the public broadcaster rather than her private life, so the second instance court's surmise that the contentious tweet could be understood literally was inaccurate.

The latest judgement, which runs to 17 pages, argues that as TV Slovenija news programme editor Šetinc Pašek performed an extremely important and responsible job from the aspect of the public's right to know, hence her work was exposed to public criticism.

The Supreme Court infers that like Janša the editor was a public figure, for whom "the boundaries of permissible criticism are broader than with private persons".

"In this conflict between the defendant's freedom of political expression and the plaintiff's right to dignity and good name", the majority of the judging panel thus decided in favour of "the enlightenment principle that only free debate on major political topics makes it possible to near the truth".

"Thus, the position prevailed that priority needs to be given to the freedom of political expression. The Supreme Court has therefore not taken a stance on the non-legal aspects of the plaintiff's statement," reads the judgement passed on 6 February.

The court ordered Šetinc Pašek to compensate Janša for costs of the procedure within 15 days.

Šetinc Pašek described the judgement as "outright scandalous", adding that it meant Janša as the leader of the largest parliamentary party and the most powerful person in the country could insult unrestrained any journalist or editor who publishes what he disagrees with.

"Since in the opinion of a majority on the judging panel Twitter is a medium typical for bitter, rough, even insulting content. As if Janša was forced to publish on Twitter," commented the journalist, who called it a black day for Slovenian journalism and the public.

Janša was also sued by Carl, and both journalists brought criminal charges against him. In the criminal procedure Janša was sentenced to a three-month suspended sentence by the Celje District Court in November 2018, but the Celje Higher Court ordered a retrial last year.

All our Janez Janša stories are here

28 Apr 2020, 10:14 AM

STA, 27 April 2020 - While lockdown measures remain in force, some Slovenians have started hitting the streets to protest against the government and the continuation of quarantine, with a few hundred people gathering in Ljubljana on Monday, several hundred in Maribor and smaller rallies held in several other cities.

The protests were initiated by a Facebook group called Resistance against the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, which calls for the situation in the country to be normalised and for Prime Minister Janez Janša to resign.

Around 150 people gathered in the square in front of Parliament House in Ljubljana at noon, and the number of protesters roughly doubled when newcomers lifted a fence set up by the police and joined the rally.

Several media reports say that there were no incidents or conflicts, with the police only warning the protesters to keep a safe distance among themselves.

One of the protesters called for national unity and "against plundering by both left and right" and for the "robbery of taxpayer money" to end, drawing some applause from the crowd.

Some of the signs called for Janša's resignation, while some individuals decided to hold impromptu speeches to call against the misuse of public money and for the measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic to be lifted.

A speech was delivered by Ladislav Troha, a former army officer who has become a major proponent of conspiracy theories online and has been on the fringe of many protests over the past decade and more.

Some of the protesters invoked widely circulated conspiracy theories saying they were rebelling against the deployment of 5G telecommunications technology and government plans to implant chips into them, according to videos circulated on social media.

Joining the call for protests were Facebook users in Nova Gorica, Ptuj, Trbovlje and Maribor. In Slovenia's second largest city, around 1,000 people gathered for a peaceful walk through the city streets, according to local media reports. Police say the number of protestors was much lower, just 100.

In some towns, people also carried signs in support of Ivan Gale, the whistleblower from the Commodity Reserves Agency who has revealed for national television political pressures in the procurement of personal protective equipment.

A Facebook page has been created in support for Gale, so far attracting some 54,000 members. Its moderators said yesterday that they had nothing to do with today's protests and disavowed the events.

Ljubljana police said there were roughly 200 people at the rally in Ljubljana, whose organisers registered the event on Friday but did not get permission due to the lockdown restrictions.

Maribor police said they had warned protestors they were violating the restrictions on movement and gathering. Reports against 19 persons were submitted to the Health Inspectorate, which controls quarantine compliance.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said on Twitter that police in Ljubljana and Maribor had IDd a large number of protestors, who will be fined. "They will also file criminal complaints against the organisers and participants, this constitutes the crime of hazard to health," he said.

Hojs also expects the police will ID additional participants with the help of published photographs and video. "The majority of the citizens are concerned about health and comply with the decrees," he said.

Monday's protests are the latest in a series of anti-government manifestations that started, mostly on social media, soon after the country went into lockdown.

A protest against restrictions of freedom during the epidemic was held on Friday as dozens of cyclists roamed the centre of Ljubljana, ringing bells, whistling and carrying slogans.

The protest, which was organised by a Facebook group which had previously been calling for protests from balconies and windows, also called against giving the army police powers to patrol the border and against attacks on journalists.

26 Apr 2020, 11:30 AM

STA, 25 April 2020 - Embracing a dissenting opinion in a recent Constitutional Court ruling, which tasked the government with examining each week whether its lockdown restrictions remain justified, Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted on Saturday that "Slovenia unfortunately has the most politically biased Constitutional Court so far".

"Double standards mean the death of any institution, especially judicial. They are setting up so called selective justice," Janša wrote.

He added the current line-up of the Constitutional Court was in the "majority formed in line with the wishes of the left and far-left ideological sphere, and even changes its position on uniform matters depending on the day".

The prime minster wrote this as a comment of a dissenting opinion issued by Constitutional Court judge Klemen Jaklič, who had also been against the court admitting the challenge to the lockdown decree in the first place.

While the court is still deliberating on the challenge as a whole and only suspended a provision that stated the measures will be in place "until the cessation of the reasons", Jaklič argued that the petitioner had failed to prove legitimate legal interest and seek justice at lower instances first.

He added the feeling had been created that the court was selecting privileged petitioners in what violated the law and constitutional rules.

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