News roundup - Monday, 30 January

Ljubljana, 30 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 30 January:

Two suspected Russian spies arrested in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA/BRDO PRI KRANJU - A couple suspected of being Russian spies have been apprehended by Slovenian authorities and will become the first persons ever to be charged with espionage under Slovenian criminal law. They were arrested in early December on a tip-off from SOVA, the national intelligence and security agency, which identified them in collaboration with NATO and EU partners, reported Delo, which first broke the story. The suspects, who have two children, are believed to be members of the Russian military intelligence organisation GRU or the external intelligence agency SVR. They ran a real estate agency and an antiques business in Ljubljana as a cover-up plus forged Argentinian identities. "I can confirm that our law enforcement have apprehended two foreign nationals and all signs point to them being members of a foreign intelligence service," said Andrej Benedejčič, the prime minister's national security advisor.

Pirc Musar and Golob stress human rights in address to diplomatic corps

BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Nataša Pirc Musar and Prime Minister Robert Golob stressed Slovenia's promotion of human rights, the rule of law and solidarity as they addressed the annual reception for diplomats accredited to Slovenia, adding that this will guide Slovenia in its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Pirc Musar said she and the government will make efforts for Slovenia to be elected a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2024-2025. Golob added that Slovenia did not embark on the candidacy to promote its own interests, but to promote the interests of global security and solidarity.

Slovenia proposing new labels for honey origin in the EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia presented to EU agriculture ministers an initiative for changes to the directive on honey introducing more detailed labelling of honey origin. It would like the label to state the country of origin or how much of the honey comes from each country. EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said after the meeting that labelling of honey origin must be clear, but also proportionate. Slovenia's Irena Šinko said there were some objections but that various solutions were possible.

Govt confirms EUR 600 gross bonus for judges and prosecutors

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill introducing a monthly EUR 600 gross allowance for judicial officials from 1 January and lasting until a reform of the public sector wage system is implemented, but not later than until the end of the year. The amount of the allowance will not depend on the basic salary or the job specifics. It will be paid in the same amount to all beneficiaries. The bill was welcomed by the Judicial Council, which said that it would have a positive effect on the functioning of the judicial system.

NGO suing former interior minister over referendum claims

LJUBLJANA - The NGO 8 March Institute is suing former Interior Minister Aleš Hojs for damages over his allegations on Twitter that water shortages during the massive fires in the Kras region last summer were the result of a referendum on the waters act initiated by the NGO. The institute demands EUR 3,000 in damages. Members of the 8 March Institute told the press they had been a target of insulting tweets by previous government officials on many occasions.

Slovenia's largest solar power plant exceeded targets last year

LJUBLJANA/HRASTNIK - The largest solar power plant in Slovenia, located in a rehabilitated and closed section of the Prapretno landfill near Hrastnik, produced 3,015 megawatts of electricity between April and December 2022, which is 8% above plans, the state-owned power utility HSE said. According to HSE, the power plant currently produces enough electricity to sustain some 820 households for a year.

Regulated fuel prices higher as of Tuesday despite lower excise duties

LJUBLJANA - Regulated fuel prices will rise by several cents despite a lowering of excise duties. Regular petrol will be almost 7 cents more expensive at EUR 1.355, while diesel is going up by almost 5 cents to EUR 1.529. The prices will apply the next 14 days at service stations that are not located along motorways. The price of heating oil will go up as well, by four cents to EUR 1.155. This is despite a lowering of the excise duty by roughly 1.3 cents per litre.

Deželna Banka's net profit up by more than half in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Deželna Banka Slovenije, one of the smallest Slovenian banks, posted a net profit of EUR 7.38 million last year, up 52% from 2021, and so the bank's management considers 2022 a successful year despite a demanding situation. "We generated EUR 8.28 million in pre-tax profit, or 39% more than the year before, and achieved 11.19% return on equity, which is 33% more than in 2020," the management wrote in the unaudited business report for 2022.

Mysterious cave paintings in Slovenia hidden in Bestažovca Cave

DIVAČA - Prehistoric cave paintings are extremely rare in the area southeast of the Alps, but in 2009 a scientist exploring karst caves stumbled upon an interesting find of more than 50 red and black lines and dots in Bestažovca Cave, south-west Slovenia. The first such discovery in Slovenia, the drawings are believed to be at least 7,000 years old.

Festival highlights city theatres of former Yugoslav countries

LJUBLJANA - The Ruta Grupa Triglav travelling theatre festival will kick off at the Ljubljana City Theatre (MGL), bringing together five other city theatres from the former Yugoslavia. The festival aims to strengthen cooperation and bring high-quality theatre to the region. This is the second time Ljubljana will be one of the host cities.

Couch Festival bringing concerts, events to unconventional venues

LJUBLJANA - A festival turning homes, offices and other public and private spaces into event venues kicks off today. Until 5 February, some 190 concerts and artistic performances will be held in towns and villages across Slovenia as well as in Italy's Trieste. More than 125 groups from 25 countries will perform.

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