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Slovenia: Police break up demonstrations against stricter COVID-19 measures

Several police officers are said to have been injured in clashes between Slovenian police forces and citizens who opposed the tightening of antiCOVID-19 measures.

On Wednesday, new measures were introduced and some reports said it was not possible to buy oil at the oil station without the COVID permit.

Police used a water ball and tear gas to distribute a group of several thousands of protesters who were collected in front of Parliament’s house on Wednesday afternoon.

Media in Slovenia reported that the protest started peacefully in the afternoon, but towards the evening, the crowd started pushing against the House of Parliament and some signaling torches were thrown at the building.

Police responded by using tear gas on the crowd, which quickly dispersed in the surrounding streets. Smaller groups returned to the square and started throwing more torches, prompting police to place water cannons. Stones were also thrown at the police.

The protest was organized by several groups opposing vaccination, masks and the Covid passport mandate that went into effect the same day. The groups are mostly active on Facebook and their spokesmen condemned the recent restrictions and called on the government and MPs to resign.

Ljubljana police estimate the crowd numbered 8,000 and described the rally as “a massive violation of law and order”. Officers reportedly fired torches, granite pavers and other objects. Police were still in town around 10pm to disperse individual groups that dispersed to the center.

Police Commissioner Anton Olaj called for tolerance and said on Twitter that violence in the protests was “unacceptable”.

Interior Minister Aleš Hoys pointed the finger at left-wing parties, saying their “branches” had organized the rally. He said on Twitter that this was how “left fascism was put into practice”.

Prime Minister Janez Janša said on Twitter that the government would not resign.

“Street violence has never led to anything good. The police are obliged to act in accordance with the law. The Government of Slovenia will not give in to any pressure. Will insist on measures to protect people’s health and lives. “It is time for the prosecutor’s office / judiciary to no longer tolerate threats and violence,” Janša said.

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