Anti-government protest held in Ljubljana

Ljubljana – Several thousand people defied the ban on gatherings on Tuesday to mount an anti-government protest that wound its way through the centre of Ljubljana, with protesters stopping in front of the Government Palace, Presidential Palace and Parliament House.

The rally, which started in Prešeren Square, was organised by the same leftist activist groups that have staged weekly anti-government demonstrations since last spring and was timed to coincide with Resistance Day, which commemorates the start of resistance against occupying forces in WWII.

One of the organisers, a Facebook group called Popular Protest Assembly, said the rally was a call for “freedom, democracy, rule of law and the immediate resignation of Janez Janša and new elections”.

It said this year’s Resistance Day was “dedicated to the new united front” which is fighting repression and “reign of terror”. It accused the government of having mounted attacks on groups including cultural workers, media, NGOs and intellectuals.

Several speakers appeared, including Živa Vidmar, the daughter of Liberation Front founder Josip Vidmar, journalism professor Sandra Bašič Hrvatin, criminal law expert Dragan Petrovec, environmentalist Uroš Macerl and poet Boris A. Novak. Choirs sang Partisan songs of resistance.

Protesters wore banners with slogans including Janšism = Fascism, Youths Care, People Have the Power, slogans in favour of the protection of drinking water, and flags with bicycles, which have become the symbol of anti-government protests.

The group then made their way to the square in front of Parliament House past the Government Palace and the Presidential Palace. Speeches were delivered at all the locations.

Such protests have been held for a year and were a weekly occurrence through autumn, when a lockdown was imposed. They started again last week after restrictions were eased.

Police said in advance of the protest today they would monitor the gathering and compliance with restrictions. There were no immediate reports of any altercations with the police.

The current rule is that up to ten people may gather, with ten square metres per person a minimum requirement. Social media livestreams indicate distancing was not observed and although most were wearing masks, many were unmasked.