By: Sara Rančingaj
“Given that the presence of riot groups is also predicted, the security risk is increased, while Friday’s cyclists did not pose such a high threat to public order, although they violated a multitude of health-security measures,” assesses the former director of Sova and an expert on security questions, Andrej Rupnik, regarding the security situation at today’s protest in Ljubljana which will begin at 14.00. In any case, no one wants a repeat of the November scenario, explains Rupnik, who is convinced that the police will adequately protect the event, despite their strike.
Protests are announced again today, where the civic initiative Maska dol (Masks down) announces a demonstration in front of the parliament. Anis Ličina, better known for his connections in the criminal underworld, is also expected to join the protest. According to some speculations, Šiška’s guards are also expected to join by Anica Bidar, but in the Zedinjena slovenska varda (United Slovenian Guard) they are distancing themselves from the connection with Bidar.
We asked the former director of Sova and security expert Andrej Rupnik for his opinion on the upcoming protests. According to him, the current protests are a combination of two different factors. The first is the spread of dissatisfaction of those who despise Janez Janša and do not tolerate the idea that he is in power, and in doing so they want to attract as many people as possible to this circle, regardless of whether the reasons for negative sentiments against the government objectively exist or not. On the other hand, the protesters combine the negative sentiment towards Janša with the dissatisfaction generated by the epidemic, which primarily includes restrictive measures.
“In any case, I think it is important that we respect the measures taken by the profession and the government, as we are currently on the epidemiological plateau for the third month, from which we cannot get off, moreover, the whole world is fighting the epidemic in similar ways as Slovenia” explains Rupnik. Restrictive measures certainly affect people’s sensitivity, which is greater due to closure, and is also easier to influence and gain with the help of conspiracy theories. “We must be aware that we are also at the very top in terms of the number of deaths in the world at the expense of non-compliance with measures,” says Rupnik.
Bidar rejects the violence at the protest, but calls for equipment with wooden tools
In a video posted by Bidar on Facebook, she says she informed the police, who ensured her with the safety of people at the protest. She believes that the media are the ones that use the story to incite people against each other, with this she particularly emphasised the work of the Dnevnik journalist. She warned that the protest would take place peacefully and told protesters that violence was not desirable. At first, the initiative, led by her, she wanted the protesters to bring a large piece of wooden tool as a sign of their safety, but as they found out, it is better not to. She informs all those who will come to Ljubljana tomorrow to bring a broom or the Slovenian flag as a sign of peace.
Even a broom can be a weapon
Due to the resonance and the impending danger, Bidar abandoned the idea of a bulky piece of tool, but believes that the broom is suitable for sweeping and is not dangerous. Rupnik disagrees, he says that any stick or hard object can be a weapon, including a broom. “For example, if someone breaks the handle of a broom, it can serve as an object for hitting or stabbing, which can lead to serious injuries,” he explains.
Bidar points out that it may happen that those who want to cause violent riots will also take part in the protest. She herself strongly opposes this and hopes that the police will be able to protect the peaceful protesters, and they will also have some of their own security guards to help the police. She also responded to Tanja Fajon‘s call on Twitter, who herself fears of the appearance of extremist groups and a possible violent riot. Bidar called on Fajon to make sure that no extremist group under the left political wing would take part in the protest.
The police officer visited Bidar and warned that gatherings are not allowed. As she said, she does not encourage violence, but she believes that gathering or protest is a constitutional right of every individual. “If anyone starts with riots, we will help the police to calm them down with the help of our security guards,” she added. Bidar thus organises the protest, as she still emphasises that there is no evidence that the epidemic actually exists, and that restrictive measures allegedly violate human rights. Rupnik believes that the gathering reflects disrespect for common sense, selfishness and lack of values, and that the middle generation in particular is irresponsible towards the older population.
According to Rupnik, the threat of violence may increase at the protest, meaning that security risks will also be increased. “Given that the presence of riot groups is also predicted, safety risk is increased, while Friday’s cyclists did not pose such a high threat to public order, although they violated a multitude of health-security measures,” he estimates. Certainly no one wants a repeat of the November scenario, not even Bidar. According to Rupnik, peaceful protesters themselves would not be a problem. The problem, however, can arise if violent gangs take part in the protest. “Seven percent of violent individuals are enough to enforce the crowd rule,” he further explains. As the crowd rule, a scenario can occur where a smaller proportion convince others of acts of violence, which may be followed by gigantic violence directed against people and property.
Police will provide extensive protection for the area, despite their strike
Only a part of the police officers joined the strike in the police, while the “working” part of the police did not go on strike. Therefore, a large presence of the police at tomorrow’s event is to be expected, and those who are on strike must also report to the duty in case of danger. In any case, the police and peaceful protesters will be spared a lot if Ličina and others like him do not take part in the protest.