“It started at 4pm in Congress Square. A very diverse crowd gathered, equipped (amongst others things) with posters stating “You’re finished”, with the names of almost all the current politicians listed.
Many people were holding red carnations as a symbol of peaceful expression of their protest against austerity, corruption, clientelism and violation of legal and social state.
Journalist and cameraman were also present among the crowd of protesters. It was interesting to see a journalist from the national Radio and TV station that was guarded by the cameraman as well as by a security officer. The crowd slowly grew and occupied also the park and the streets near the Congress Square. Police officers kept themselves in the background. Several members of the Special Forces were positioned close to the Knafelj underpass.
Then the crowd slowly moved towards the Parliament. To emphasize the peaceful nature of the demonstrations and solidarity, the protesters gave carnations to police officers , which they attached on their uniforms.
At some point it started. Shortly after 6 pm a group of about 30 masked rioters entered Republic Square in front of the Parliament. They were wearing a banner stating “US against everyone – no to EU-servant”, with the letter “o” crossed with a cross. It is a symbol of many European neo-Nazi or new right wing organizations. These words can now be read on the front page of “Dnevnik” (Slovenian daily newspaper) in the article “They stole our country, and now the protests.”
According to eyewitnesses, then just before 7 pm the group of masked people began with a very organized attack on police officers. Those masked persons were among other, equipped also with gas masks.
The rest of the crowd was shouting loud, making it clear that they did not approve this violent behavior of the troublemakers. But the rioters increased their attacks and mixed with the peaceful protester, which lead to the withdrawal of people. The epilogue is known. The focus of media coverage oriented itself from the “festival of democracy” to violent riots. Red carnations were replaced by granite cubes in the hands of few masked rioters.
Of course, the question that arises is – who are these rowdies? Some experts on extreme right-wing groups confirmed that according to the words and posters used, they were members of various neo-Nazi groups.
From here on, according to all the events, as well as their wider context, all options are open. Let’s start with the statement of the former Chief of Police Pavle Celik, who had previously warned of provocateurs starting violent protests. As he told the newspaper Dnevnik, he is “firmly convinced that in the recent protests, intentional ringleaders appear with the aim of leading the other protesters in a certain direction, so that the government can say that the protest were violent.”
Since the predictions of Pavle Celik turned out to be true, now the next logical question follows: if the rowdies were hired, who hired them?
An interesting answer to this question was given by a comments in response to the mentioned Čelik’s statement in the magazine Mladina: The commentator wrote, that ” the initial report of the Slovenian intelligence and security agency-SOVA, (which has been withheld by the government from discussion in the parliament for quite some time) shows, that some neo-Nazi groups are closely linked to SDS (Slovenian Democratic party, the party of our prime minister Janez Janša). Individuals from these groups are even members of the SDS.”
Of course, we cannot and we must not believe just any comment.However, let’s examine this claim. What do we find?
We found the following article: “Neo-Nazis: stowaways of parliamentary elections” in which the journalist Anuška Delic, writes: “the leader of Slovenian Blood and Honour Division says that he is not a leader and has no function in SDS. Others say otherwise. “The journalist describes that she received information from multiple sources, stating that Dejan Prosen is the leader of Blood and Honour Division, also confirming his direct connection to SDS. Blood and Honour, as stated on their webpage, is an “independent, patriotic, National socialistic movement.”
Another article was found: “Neonazism in Slovenia: Tell me with who you hang out with” in which the author of the article stated that “Kristian Podobnik is a member of the Slovenian Democratic Youth (SDM) that is and offspring party of Janša’s SDS. Since the establishment of SDM in Žiri, on the 15th of December 2010, Kristian is a very active member. This is documented also with photos, taken at various SDS events and his activity on the SDM facebook page. The last event he participated in, was the presentation of Irena Tavčar, an SDS candidate for the National Assembly from Žiri. He sat in the front row. In March this year he participated also in the winter sports games organized by SDS, which took place in Cerkno. He represented the municipal SDS committee of Žiri. In addition to his loyalty to SDS, he is also a disclosed neo-Nazi and a member of the neo-Nazi group Blood & Honour. ”
If we go further – what is happening with the SOVA report on extremist groups? As the recent events show, the situation in this field is quite strange.
Three deputy members (from the opposition parties) of the Parliamentary commission for the control of intelligence and security services, in fact send a request to the government to provide them with information about what was happening with the report on the problem of extremist groups and movements in the country. This happened at the beginning of this week, a few days before the protests. They adressed the government with the demand to provide them with the information when was the first time that SOVA delivered the report for discussion and adoption to the government.
They also wanted to know when and if the government had returned the report to SOVA for completion, and when SOVA delivered the corrected report back to the government for the second discussion. The also want to know when and if SOVA returned the report for correction to the government,when this completed document was then sent into further discussion and when it was discussed by the competent working bodies of the government and if any changes were made during this process. Furthermore, the MPs state, that they asked SOVA for this report, the same that they are now requesting from the government, after the working group sessions on this topics was postponed various time, due to the fact that the neither SOVA nor the government had prepared the needed material. The mentioned report at the end figured only tree pages, and the deputies are convinced that it was prepared in a way, that minimizes and diminishes the phenomenon of extremism in Slovenia. (Dnevnik, 26.11. 2012).
All of this puts the above mentioned comment in the Magazin Mladina in a completely new perspective and following all this evidence another logical question arises; what if those neo-Nazi street rowdies are actually an extension of a concrete political interest of a specific political party?
Of course, at this point any exact answer to this question is impossible. But an answer to the question why they were present at Friday’s peaceful demonstration needs to be found, especially in the name of rule of law and without any political instrumentalisation.
We also need to remember the behavior of SDS in 2010 towards student protest. SDS, which at that time was in the opposition, requested an extraordinary meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Domestic Policy, Public Administration and Justice, on the issue of ” suspected political interference in police work, that has led to professional errors of the Ministry of Interior affairs and GPU during the student demonstrations “, where the President of the Committee, Dr. Vinko Gorenak (current Minister of Interior affairs) tried to blame rather awkwardly and constantly Fronta Prekercev, a group of students, who at that time organized a parallel protest, for the disorders at the demonstrations.
It is really unfortunate for the rule of law in Slovenia that all the questions written in this text are not being asked. But at the same time, we have to add that all those questions have arisen also because we have a prime minister who persistently avoids hearings in his judicial proceedings and because referendum signatures are incomprehensibly disappearing in our governmental bodies.