Ljubljana – Opponents of the government anti-coronavirus measures gathered on Tuesday in Republic Square in front of the parliament building, which the police protected and cordoned off after a similar protest turned violent last week. The police used a water cannon and tear gas and the crowd dispersed around the centre of Ljubljana, continuing to protest.
Police officers IDed the protesters at the start of the rally around 3pm, with some saying the police had kept 30 buses full of protesters away from the scene of the rally, which the police denied for the STA.
A protester said in her address she disagreed with the restriction of movement in the area of Republic Square arguing there was no legal basis for it or the IDing.
At the protest, Zoran Stevanović, head of the non-parliamentary Resni.ca party and the organiser of this and last week’s rallies, repeated his demand for the government to do away with anti-coronavirus measures and call an early election.
Following the introductory speeches, the protesters proceeded around the streets in the city centre, first towards Congress Square.
There they ran into one of the delegations attending the EU summit held at Brdo pri Kranju, according to the 24ur.com news portal, which said that once surrounded, the delegation started backing up towards Slovenska Cesta.
According to the same source, rapper Zlatko was arrested in the city centre and removed from the protest in a police car as protesters were throwing items at the vehicle.
Around 5pm, the police used a water cannon and tear gas, while a police helicopter was circling the centre of the city.
The crowd then headed towards Slovenska Cesta again, but the police stopped them, so they turned towards the Tržaška Cesta thoroughfare, and then towards Tivoli Park, where the police used the water cannon and tear gas again.
The protesters answered by throwing pyrotechnics, rocks, bottles and other items at police officers.
They then tried to come close to Intercontinental Hotel, where a part of delegations of the EU-Western Balkans summit is accommodated, only to be again detoured towards other parts of the city by the police.
The protest was violent at times, with the protesters breaking glass at the entrance to the headquarters of the N1 news portal, and also trying to prevent work by journalists on the streets by insulting, threatening or pushing them.
Stevanović said a few days ago this week’s rally would he held on Tuesday to coincide with EU leaders gathering at Brdo pri Kranju, some 20 km north of Ljubljana, for an informal dinner.
It was thus speculated on social media the rally could take place at Brdo pri Kranju, but Stevanović said last evening the location remained the same, Republic Square.
In order to protect public order, the government decided yesterday to task the police with restricting movement on Tuesday and Wednesday in Ljubljana, Bled and Brdo.
Based on the government’s decision, the police issued a notice saying that people would be warned if they are in a restricted area and that coercive measures would be used should they not heed the warning.