“It is still an indisputable fact that the epidemic is not over yet,” warned Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs, backing his words up with the data which shows that the central region of Slovenia is actually still among those with the worst epidemiological picture. The government decrees are very clear. At the moment, up to fifty people are allowed to gather, which is far lower than the number of people the media predicts will gather at the protest on Friday. The police are not expecting any riots to happen at the protests, but they are certainly prepared for this scenario as well. The healthcare profession has called for the people to respect the measures, and of course, everyone agrees that the people who are organising the protests are acting very irresponsibly.
“Of course, you could say that we should not limit anyone, as we live in a free country, and that is undoubtedly true. But on the other hand, it is also true that the people who are organising the protests are acting very irresponsibly towards their fellow citizens, as well as their own health,” Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs commented on Friday’s protests. The police are, of course, prepared for these protests as well. They are not expecting any riots to break out, as everyone is predicting that these protests will be peaceful, but of course, the police are prepared for all scenarios and will help prevent any possible riots to the best of their abilities. “It should also be said that, as always, we will write up the organisers and consequences in accordance with the law or in accordance with the government decrees will follow, and, last but not least, they will also be fined – what the police are doing is not free, after all,” Hojs warned. In accordance with the Public Assembly Act, in the event that the organiser does not provide an appropriate security service for an event, the police are obliged to provide protection instead, which, of course, is not free. Any public gathering should, of course, be registered so that the security services as well as medical care and everything else needed for a large gathering can be provided, but so far, this has not happened at any of the anti-government protests yet.
Prior to Friday’s protests in Ljubljana, the police urged participants to follow their instructions. The area will be video-monitored, and movement around the building of the National Assembly and the government building will be limited, announced the inspector at the Ljubljana Police Department, Boštjan Skrbinšek Javornik. Deana Potza of the Health Inspectorate also announced that they would help ensure compliance with the measures. Public rallies are allowed during this time, but only on the condition that the organiser registers the event or notifies the police or the administrative unit that an event is going to happen, and all recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health must also be taken into account and adhered to. Friday’s protest has not been registered, so the police will have to take care of maintaining public law and order. In addition to Friday’s cyclists and the trade unions, students, retirees, environmental organisations, academia, musicians and artists, as well as marginalised groups, also announced their participation in the protests, Slovenian Press Agency reported. The SD and LMŠ parties are also planning to join the protests. Meanwhile, quite a few trade unions have announced that they will also sign the agreement adopted by the government at Thursday’s session – and this is supposed to happen on Friday, before the protests, so the question is which unions even intend to take part in the protests.
The police deal with all of the offenders at the protests in the same manner The Levica party also said that they support Friday’s protests and announced that they, too, would take part in the all-Slovenian protest against the government of Janez Janša. “The Levica party will always defend the right to assemble, unite and express opinions. We also condemn the police violence we witnessed last Friday and call on the government and the representative authorities to leave the protesters be and allow them the right to protest against this harmful government, which is clinging to power at all costs,” they said in the party, according to the web portal 24ur. Namely, certain media outlets accused the police of trying to expel mainly Palestinian protesters at last week’s protest, as the police allegedly treated them differently from the others who were gathered there.
Recently, we also reported on the hostile inscriptions accusing Hojs of racism. Of course, the Minister of the Interior denied all these allegations and said they are pointless and false, as the police never have and never will receive any instructions to deal with anyone differently. “It is true, however, that the police are obliged to intervene and write up the perpetrators, as well as penalise them accordingly, at a time when public gathering is still forbidden, and public health is still endangered – no matter what flag the people are flying,” Hojs made it clear. The police also rejected all allegations of selective treatment of the protesters. They assured everyone that the police officers deal with all of the offenders at the protests in the same manner and do not take action if there are no violations.
Public gathering of more than 50 people is still temporarily banned The number of participants is no longer limited by number (previously, that number was 50), but only by the area (10 square meters per participant) or by interpersonal distance (1.5 meters between persons). However, public gathering of more than 50 people is still temporarily forbidden. “Of course, gathering is legally allowed, but it is the responsibility of each individual, if he or she attends the protest, to adhere to the protective measures,” said the director of the National Institute of Public Health, Dr Milan Krek, and called for those who are in a vulnerable group, who have not been vaccinated, or have not recovered from covid-19 yet, to not attend the protest.