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Maribor Pensioners Were Stopped By The “Financial Police” On Their Way Back From The Protest

Police intimidation of farmers before protests, police visiting journalist Jože Možina in his workplace, and the latest incident, a visit to pensioners by the Financial Administration. The use of the police to restrict protests and freedom of speech is clearly becoming a trend, and the current government is more than obviously using intimidation tactics to suppress open public debate and the right to free public gatherings and expression of opinions.

A group of Maribor passengers attending a pensioners’ rally in Ljubljana on Wednesday were met with an unpleasant surprise on their way home, that brought back strong memories of the communist era. Intimidation of citizens has more than obviously become a government control tactic, with no exceptions.

“This is truly incredible. Just like every other time, a group of Maribor citizens went to Ljubljana to the pensioners’ protest for higher pensions. They decided to ride the bus there. The route leader, who is a natural person, will pay for the transport after getting the invoice. Up to that point, all was well and good and according to the rules. But the Maribor group returning from Ljubljana was met on their way home by the financial “police,” who questioned both the route leader and the bus driver. “We did not steal any money; we did not take anything from anyone. The financial inspector did not even show his identification to us and was arrogant. That is why the route manager did not show him his ID and refused to cooperate with him, even though he was threatened with the police, who are probably waiting for him at home,” wrote the E-Maribor editor Mitja Grmovšek on Facebook.

Threats won’t stop them!

A group of Maribor residents, like they have done several times in the past already, decided to attend the pensioners’ protest in Ljubljana and organised the ride accordingly. They called a bus company, together, they raised the money for the transport, and the bus company took the passengers from Maribor to Ljubljana and back. The carrier will issue an invoice to the route leader, who will pay it in due time. We are talking about a responsible group of citizens, not about violent rioters who have threatened or harmed anyone in any way, so there is no other explanation for what happened than intimidation. As the route leader said: “We want to stress that no threats will stop us! Not today, not ever. We have not stolen any money; we have not taken anything from anyone. We will not bow down; we will not be intimidated! Not now, not ever!”

Bullying is becoming more and more common

However, intimidation and visits by the authorities without any solid reason seem to be more and more common. Namely, before the previous protests by pensioners, the police had already visited a farmer and questioned him about his intention to take part in the farmers’ protests. Later, the visit was confirmed by the police themselves, which raised many questions about the legality of such a move. These were the words of a young farmer, Tomaž Mis, who was interrupted by a police car while working on his farm. “Today, after milking my cows, a police car drove into the yard of our farm, just as I was feeding the calves. I greeted the policeman nicely and asked him what is going on. He said nothing, because he had been sent to ask me if I, as a farmer, were going to attend the farmers’ protest in Ljubljana on Tuesday, the 25th of April 2023.” It was not enough for the policeman to know if Mis was going to the protest – he wanted to know who else was going, too.

Pensioners and farmers are not the only ones who are a thorn in the government’s side. Just a few days ago, the police also visited Dr Jože Možina, a historian and journalist at the national media outlet, RTV Slovenia. It is clear that this is unacceptable pressure on a journalist and journalistic autonomy, and such behaviour is also contrary to the content of the Programme for the Work of the 2022-2026 Coalition, according to the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) MP Anja Bah Žibert, who has also addressed a parliamentary question to the government in this regard. She reminded the government that the Programme also states that “they will regulate the status of RTV and other public media (Slovenian press Agency, etc.) in such a way as to make it impossible for the independent public media to be subject to constant political interference and hostile takeovers.” They also stated that they were committed to “normal functioning, democratic institutions, respect for the rule of law, acting in the best interest of the public, …”, but these are just letters on paper, as we are witnessing a less than democratic modus operandi, which the government is talking about, but which actually uses prominent communist tactics to control the citizens.

T. B.

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