Slovenian President Borut Pahor on Thursday commented on incidents which happened in Ljubljana on Wednesday evening after peaceful protests against tighter epidemiological restrictions introduced by the government, calling for defusing the tension and for dialogue.
“The existing different views can be freely expressed only in an appropriate and peaceful way,” Pahor said in a statement.
The incidents, which occurred after protests against compulsory COVID-19 certificates and tests for the unvaccinated, must not be met with indifference, let alone condoning, Pahor said.
“We know that there are different views on anti-epidemic rules which the government is trying to take into account and incorporate as much as possible into instructions given by experts,” he said.
According to a police report, around 8,000 people rallied in downtown Ljubljana and outside the parliament building on Wednesday evening, with some throwing granite cubes, glass bottles and pyrotechnic articles at the police. After the crowd refused to disperse, the police used means of force. Nine people were arrested.
Chief police director Anton Olaj told a news conference the investigation focused on those responsible for the rally, which he said was well organised, and those who instigated violence.
Leaders of political parties today mostly called for calm, deploring violence, but the incidents have again fuelled the political conflict and tension between the ruling and opposition parties.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa and his supporters pointed the finger at “left-wing extremists”, claiming they instigated protests and riots in order to topple the right-wing government.
The left political camp said the protests had been infiltrated, suggesting that the violence was an act of provocation aimed at challenging the legitimacy of protests against the government and its management of the coronavirus epidemic.
In a statement on the protests, in which police officers, too, sustained light injuries, the national police union called for tolerance and common sense, condemning the violence and attacks on the police and noting that they “are increasingly becoming victims of irrational and provocative positions of the ruling political structures.”
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