News roundup - Friday, 16 February

Ljubljana, 16 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 16 February:

Golob discusses Gaza with US vice-president, UN secretary general

MUNICH, Germany - The situation in Gaza topped the agenda as Prime Minister Robert Golob held separate talks with US Vice President Kamala Harris and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the margins of the Munich Security Conference. He called for an immediate end to the fighting and the prevention of a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. In talks with Guterres, Golob expressed his strong support for the work of the UN.

Slovenia's top officials say Navalny death blow to democracy, freedom

LJUBLJANA - Responding to the death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, President Nataša Pirc Musar spoke of a heart attack on democracy in Russia, Prime Minister Robert Golob of a sad day for human rights, and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon of the loss of a figure whose fight for freedom and democracy will live on. "We have lost one of the most prominent human right defenders and fighters for freedom and justice," Golob said.

Ex-minister claims evidence of collusion in building purchase overwhelming

LJUBLJANA - Dominika Švarc Pipan, whose term as justice minister formally ended today, told MPs that she had gathered evidence "unambiguously showing" that a group of state officials had colluded to push through the controversial purchase of a building in Ljubljana meant to house several courts. The report shared with Prime Minister Robert Golob shows that "a well organised group of state officials was behind this," she said. The findings have already been sent to the police.

Judges filing compensation claims, prosecutors announce another strike

LJUBLJANA - Judges have started filing compensation claims over Slovenia's failure to honour a decision of the Constitutional Court that ordered an increase in judges' and prosecutors' pay by early this year. Judges insist that the issue must be resolved separately from the public sector pay reform. "These are two completely separate," said Andrej Ekart, vice president of the Judges' Association and judge's chief negotiator. Meanwhile prosecutors said they would go on strike again, on 14 March.

Debate underlines support for Ukraine

MENGEŠ - Marking two years since the start of the war in Ukraine, a debate hosted by the Centre for European Perspective (CEP) heard that support for Ukraine must remain unwavering. Peace will only be possible after justice is served, Slovenia's Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon underlined, adding that Russia must not go unpunished. Slovenia remains a firm supporter of Ukraine and will remain at its side until the country becomes a member of the EU, she said. US Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian also reiterated her country's firm support for Ukraine.

Co-incineration emissions changes through second reading

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed at second reading changes to the Environmental Protection Act laying the ground for stricter emission standards for co-incineration plants. Despite being slightly watered down by the committee, the amendments, proposed by four NGOs, the changes have been met with protest by workers of Salonit Anhovo, the largest co-incinerator in the country, who claim the legislation could ruin the company.

NGOs take ministry to court over annulment of open call

LJUBLJANA - Several NGOs have taken the Public Administration Ministry to court for having annulled last year's EUR 10.6 million open call to empower NGOs and support their active citizenship projects. The ministry annulled the call last month, saying that internal and external audits could not be expected to be completed any time soon. The call was annulled due to suspected irregularities that led to the resignation of the public administration minister.

Pensioners demand higher pensions at their 10th rally

LJUBLJANA - Pensioners who sympathise with former SDS MP Pavel Rupar and his demands for higher pensions gathered in Ljubljana's Republic Square for the tenth rally, organised by Rupar's new party Voice of Pensioners and the 1 October Institute. Rupar criticised Prime Minister Robert Golob, saying that he was not aware of how severely inflation affected pensions. Before the rally formally started, the protesters gathered in front of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, throwing eggs at the building.

Real estate firm Equinox sees income and profit rise in 2023

LJUBLJANA - Real estate company Equinox reported a 6.1% increase in net sales revenue to EUR 7.79 million for 2023. Net profit was up by about 20% to EUR 870,000. The company, formed in 2022 by the spin-off of real estate from Hoteli Union, owns the Grand Hotel Union, Hotel Lev, The Fuzzy Log and uHotel in Ljubljana as well as several office buildings in the capital.

Number of employed highest so far

LJUBLJANA - The number of persons in employment in Slovenia reached the highest level on record last December, rising by 0.3% in monthly comparison to 941,300, the Statistics Office said. The average age of those in employment also increased last year, to 43.6 years. Last December, the number of employees increased by almost 2,900 or 0.3%, while the number of self-employed slightly decreased, by 50.

Doctors remove stomach of wrong patient after mix-up

LJUBLJANA - A mix-up in tissue samples had led to a wrong patient having his stomach removed at the Ljubljana Oncology Institute in January. Barsos Medical Centre, a private diagnostics provider, has reported the incident to the Health Ministry and requested oversight. The mistake is believed to have happened due to a mix-up of tissue samples. The Health Ministry will now look into the matter.

Men get 30 and 19 years in prison for murder

NOVO MESTO - The Novo Mesto District Court sentenced Mirko Pilinger to 30 years in prison for murder and attempted murder, and Dejan Novak to 19 years in prison for accessory to the acts. Pilinger was found guilty of shooting a man to death out of jealousy and seriously wounding another one on 3 September 2022 following a party in Brezje, a Roma settlement near Novo Mesto. The defence intends to appeal.

Film and TV director Anton Tomašič wins lifetime achievement award

LJUBLJANA - Film and TV director and screenwriter Anton Tomašič, known for his many children and youth TV shows and series, and a couple of feature films, is the winner of this year's France Štiglic lifetime achievement award in film and theatre directing. He started working for the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija in 1966, where he stayed until he retired in 2004. The award will be conferred at a ceremony at the Slovenian Cinematheque on 29 February.

Perception in focus of new group exhibition at Cukrarna

LJUBLJANA - Paintings, photos, videos, objects, and installations will be put on show as the Extended Vision exhibition opens at Cukrarna in Ljubljana this evening. Curator Alenka Trebušak says it brings works by 20 Slovenian artists spanning 50 years which focus on the human being and sensibility. Every work of art is oriented towards perception, but this exhibition focuses on the doubt the works create, the curator said.

Film about Mongolia winner of Mountain Film Festival

LJUBLJANA - The French film Mongolia: Valley of the Bears by Hamid Sardar is the winner of the 18th Mountaineering Film Festival. The film "boasts an excellent screenplay and a beautiful narrative that makes you think without unnecessary moralising", the jury said, adding that it portrays the land of nomads in a multi-layered way.

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