News roundup - Monday, 19 February

Ljubljana, 19 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 19 February:

Citizens subscribe EUR 258 million worth of bonds

LJUBLJANA - More than 9,000 Slovenian retail investors subscribed EUR 258.4 million worth of bonds with 3.4% yield between 1 and 16 February. While the government had planned to issue EUR 250 million worth of bonds, it now decided to meet the demand. In total EUR 261 million bonds will be issued on Friday. The figure includes 1% allocated to the bank NKBM to maintain liquidity on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange and in deals off the stock exchange, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič told reporters.

Poll shows record low approval rating for govt

LJUBLJANA - A Vox Populi poll commissioned by Dnevnik shows a record low 24.9% approval rating for the government along with a record high 70% share of those describing its job as unsuccessful following the courts building scandal and public sector strikes. Support for the junior coalition SocDems, who were at the centre of the allegations of corruption related to the building purchase, plummeted by 52% from January to 3.9% and the Freedom Movement sank to 10.7%, as the opposition Democrats (SDS) climbed to 24%.

Slovenian ambassador lays flowers in memory of Navalny

MOSCOW, Russia - Slovenian Ambassador to Russia Darja Bavdaž Kuret paid respects to late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny by laying flowers at a memorial to victims of political repression in Moscow. Navalny will be remembered as a dedicated fighter for freedom and democracy in Russia, the Foreign Ministry said in announcing the ambassador's tribute on X. Russia's most vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin died on Friday in a prison colony in Russia's far north while serving a 19-year sentence.

Emergency dispatchers go on strike

LJUBLJANA - Emergency dispatchers went on strike. The Defence Ministry's in-house trade union says that the strike will last until an agreement is reached with the government, but dispatch services accessible via 112 emergency number operate without interruption. Marjan Lah, the head of the Defence Ministry Trade Union, which represents dispatchers, assured the public that the strike would not affect them in any way. Talks with the government will resume on Wednesday with Lah saying they expected the government to come up with consistent proposals that could provide the basis to freeze the strike, "if not stop it".

Pensions up 8.8% after January and February indexation

LJUBLJANA - Pensions in Slovenia increased by 8.2% in January and will go up by another 0.6 percentage points in February in line with the regular annual adjustment for inflation and rise in average pay, ZPIZ, the public pension fund manager, confirmed. The regular adjustment is made in February each year, but the government secured part of the increase in January in the 2024 budget documents. The government also secured a 1.8% increase over October last year in November and December.

CERN delegation assessing Slovenia's membership preparedness

LJUBLJANA - A group of experts from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) are in Slovenia on Monday and Tuesday to evaluate the country's preparedness to become a full member of the organisation. Initially planned for July 2024, Slovenia will likely become member in early 2025. The delegation will draft a preparedness report for the CERN council before the latter takes a vote on Slovenia's membership, which will be followed by formal procedures in CERN and in Slovenia.

Emission coupons trader Belektron biggest entrepreneur-owned firm

LJUBLJANA - Emissions trader Belektron is by far the biggest Slovenian company owned by an entrepreneur in terms of sales revenue, having generated EUR 3.16 billion in 2022, shows a ranking the business magazine Podjetna Slovenija compiled in collaboration with consultancy Dun & Bradstreet Slovenija. It is owned by Boštjan Bandelj. With 1,663 employees, Akrapovič, the exhaust maker majority-owned by Igor Akrapovič, is the largest employer among such companies, while biodiesel trader Valiant pays by far the highest average salary of EUR 7,300 gross.

Ex-police commissioner Lindav chooses retirement amid clash with govt

LJUBLJANA - Boštjan Lindav, the former acting police commissioner who has been at loggerheads with the government since being replaced in February 2023, announced his retirement in the face of what he says has been a concerted false allegations campaign against him that has culminated in lay-off threats. Lindav backed former Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar in her claims that Prime Minister Robert Golob had exerted undue pressure on staffing in the police force. He retired last week.

Stun grenade injures players and coach at football game

MURSKA SOBOTA - Football fans, players and officials are in shock after five players and a coach of the home team were injured in a suspected stun grenade explosion detonated by a Maribor supporter during a premier league match against Mura in Murska Sobota on Sunday. All six had to seek medical attention and one remains in hospital. The injured sustained hearing loss that is hopefully temporary, severe headache and leg burns. Police investigation is ongoing, while the Football Association (NZS) announced action.

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