By: Domen Mezeg (Nova24tv.si)
On Wednesday at 3 p.m., the fifth pensioners’ protest rally took place in Ljubljana. The protesters once again gathered in the centre of the capital because of the indifference of the Golob government towards their problems. The protest happened in a slightly different way than usual this time. The demonstrators were initially gathered in two different locations, one group in front of the building of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS), and the other in the usual location in front of the National Assembly.
In the first location, in front of the RTV building, the people from Štajerska, Koroška, Prekmurje, Ljubljana and Gorenjska regions gathered before 3 p.m. After 3 p.m., the first group marched along Tavčarjeva, Gosposvetska and Bleiweisova streets to Republic Square. The second group consisted of the people from the Primorska, Dolenjska, Notranjska and Belokranjska regions, who gathered in front of the National Assembly shortly before 3 p.m. At 3 p.m., they marched past the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia along Beethovnova Street to Cankarjeva Street, then along Slovenska Street to Gosposvetska Street, where the two groups of protesters met and continued together to Republic Square, where the rally began at 4.10 p.m. and was broadcast on the television stations RTV Slovenia, Nova24TV, Topnews and E-Maribor.
“There have never been more of us here than today!”
After the arrival of the RTVS crew and the official start of the protest, Pavel Rupar addressed the protesters: “Dear pensioners, there have never been more of us here than there are today! Dear mothers and fathers, workers, farmers, youth and all those present on the Republic Square in Ljubljana, in front of the TV screens of the national television station, and everyone else. Welcome to the fifth rally against the uncooperative power for the rights and higher pensions of pensioners!” Rupar also greeted all compatriots abroad and all over the world who are giving moral or other support to the pensioners’ protesters. They began by remembering the cancer patients, all of the patients currently in hospitals, nursing homes or home alone. He concluded his speech with a prayer and the Slovenian national anthem.
Rajko Gerčič, coordinator of the initiative the Voice of Pensioners (Glas upokojencev) and the association the Institute of the 1st of October (Inštitut 1. oktober), spoke next. “The path of collapse has begun. We have lost the rule of law… These are people who left behind destruction, dirt, injured journalists and policemen, but the Golob government has absolved them of fines and their nasty deeds. Urška is teaching the youth how the rules do not have to be respected because they are stupid …” He explained his presence at the event by saying that he did not want to see everything that previous generations had created over decades of hard work just disappear. He also pointed out that tens of thousands of signatures had already been collected for the law on raising pensions, but the ruling party was obstructing the process in every possible way. They are doing this by finding loopholes in the law, trying to close down administrative units, even though most pensioners already have a long way to go to an administrative unit, etc.
“What good is a 700-euro pension to pensioners when facing double-digit inflation?!”
“Our activities have finally awakened the sleeping king of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners Associations, who managed to reach the Prime Minister, where they agreed that the minimum pension will be 700 euros. What good does that do us when we are facing a double-digit inflation rate?” After decades of service as a foreman, Gerčič demands respect for his work, respect for human rights and respect for the rule of law. The next person to speak was Alenka Orel, a retired physics professor who was involved in improving working and trade union conditions in the 1990s and whose students include world-renowned physicists in the field of elementary particle physics. She stressed that it was a disgrace to have people like President Nataša Pirc Musar, who is linked to controversial capital deals, in leading political positions. “Pensioners, let us not give up – what synergy, what interaction of energy, and they want to euthanise us! This is despicable!” Since the government and the President of the Republic are avoiding the pensioners, Orel also publicly announced the creation of an initiative committee of the Institute of the 1st of October, to which she invited all those gathered.
“Prime Minister, you have given 140 million to the liberation front fighters for their masquerades!”
Rupar then recalled that the hostile and intolerant President Pirc Musar, the circus leader Urška Klakočar Zupančič, and Prime Minister Tina Gaber and her partner had also been invited to the event to sit on chairs on the stage, but they did not turn up. They wanted to give them a place of honour so that pensioners could ask them why they were being mistreated. They gathered at the event mainly because most pensioners cannot survive on their pensions and have to beg their own children for financial help, while the cost of living is still rising. “Electricity is getting more expensive again, and while the Finns are rejoicing at the prices of their electricity halving thanks to a new nuclear power plant, here, the Sun King Golob wants to buy tons of crap from the Chinese. Discarded to the dumpsites, the solar panels will one day dissolve in the water.”
“While the Austrians and the Swiss worship their Alpine water as a treasure, we will be buying ours in bottles. Here in Ljubljana, too, because Zoran Janković will finally run the “shitpipe” from Gorenjska over the Ljubljana water catchment area! You, the people of Ljubljana, will drink it instead of drinking water.” He recalled the profligacy of those in power, who have no sense of how hard it is to make money because they do not know what it means to work. “We will not be silent! 100 million for 650 thousand people means six euros for two months per person. Prime Minister, you have given 140 million to the liberation front fighters for their masquerades! You have given seven times more to your Gen-I energy company than to one third of the Slovenian population! This is a disgrace!” Rupar also criticised female politicians who “prefer to chain themselves to migrants, feed nutria, take plane rides on adventures to Vienna, Africa and Asia, and bow deeply to the ‘shitpipe creator’, like they used to do to the biggest mafioso Corleone in Sicily.”
“If pluralism is abolished at RTVS, we will ask people not to pay the RTV fees for at least three months!”
Rupar then reminded the protesters that while the elite travel the world at the expense of the state, the people at home remain hungry. He also highlighted the problem of the public broadcaster RTVS, from which reporting pluralism is disappearing for a while. “If pluralism is abolished, we will ask people not to pay the RTV fees for at least three months!” He also pointed out that 46 thousand people had turned out for the rally this time, and then he called on MPs “to not dare not to pass the law,” for which they had already collected ten thousand signatures, because if they did not adopt it, hundreds of thousands of pensioners would come to Republic Square. “And we will come to the National Assembly!”
Rupar believes that we have “fake freedom, which is switching from one stage to another, a fascistic left, market social democrats and a sold-out New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi). And we have (or had) a Constitutional Court which is a complete disgrace to Europe, and which changes its mind from one day to the next … Gentlemen of the judiciary, do you think that we fought for such courts?!” He also had a few words for Milan Kučan: “We don’t need monuments, we don’t need affairs in the National Assembly, we don’t need divisions, we don’t want lethal injections. We want a decent and just life with our pensions!” He concluded his thought with the conviction that they have nothing more to lose and called for a fight to the end. He recalled that the political top (Pirc Musar, Golob and Klakočar Zupančič) did not come to the democratic assembly’s stage to answer the questions posed by those gathered there.
“Janković, you should be ashamed of yourself! Apologise to us for your mockery!”
“They have been fooling us for a year, making promises but actually doing nothing!” He also said to the RTV workers that they would “keep them in their hearts” and wait for the time of pluralism to return. He announced that they were planning a trip to Brussels to improve the situation of pensioners. Pensioner Suvad then recalled Janković’s insulting words “that pensioners will have to be led to protests by the hand.” He told him, “Janković, you should be ashamed of yourself! Your making fun of us is not normal behaviour, it is not dignified, and it is uncultured! I won’t ask you who is leading you, a seventy-year-old man, by the hand to the magistrate’s office!” Suvad was a simple worker, but his parents taught him culture. He also recalled the shameful hug of the Minister of Justice Dominika Švarc Pipan with the Mayor of Ljubljana at Orle. He also called on Janković to publicly apologise for the insult.