Police used water canon to break up rock-throwing protesters in Slovenia’s capital on Friday after a rally against budget cuts and alleged corruption turned violent two days ahead of a presidential election. Officers said it was the first time they had used that level of crowd control since the country’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and 15 people, mostly policemen, were injured. Thousands of Slovenians took to the streets in Ljubljana and six other cities in the financially troubled euro zone country, the latest in a series of protests.
“I’m protesting against the government because they are destroying our state, our educational, health and social systems. We have to show that we are against them and that they are not untouchable,” a 47-year-old engineer Ziva Brcar told Reuters.
Some members of the crowd started throwing granite blocks and firecrackers at police in the capital, where about 30 people were arrested, said police.
Slovenia, which joined the euro zone in 2007 when it was the fastest-growing economy in the bloc, was badly hit by the global crisis due to its dependency on exports.
It is now in recession and struggling with weak exports, a fall in domestic spending due to budget cuts and increasing unemployment, while local banks are hit by rising bad loans.