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Slovenia’s President goes organic and more

THE nearest the cheerful, obsessively tidy former Yugoslav country of Slovenia comes to hell on earth these days is when a British stag party lands in the capital, Ljubljana. But since President Janez Drnovsek experienced a spiritual rebirth, baffled Slovenians have been warned that they are living on the edge of the apocalypse.

Frequently dressed in Indian clothes and sometimes playing the flute with laurel leaves in his hair, the president has cast off the trappings of power. After he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Drnovsek, 56, left his presidential palace in Ljubljana, sacked most of his staff and moved with his dog to a mountain cabin near the village of Zaplana, where he grows organic food and bakes his own bread.

Having rejected conventional medicine in favour of herbal therapies and a vegan diet, he has become a tireless crusader against “all things evil�, warning that the world is about to end.

Drnovsek has embarked on a globe-trotting mission to preach positive energy, environmental awareness, spiritualism and animal rights, pledging to end the tyranny of “well-paid but inefficient international officials�.

There is no formal word on his health — the cancer is reported to have spread to his liver and lungs and he has visibly deteriorated — but he retains the same vigour in his largely ceremonial job, declaring: “I feel healthy, therefore I am healthy.�

He works full-time, seven days a week, and is constantly on the move, talking to heads of state and hippie gatherings alike. Last week he was in Vienna promoting his new book, The Essence of the World, a follow-up to his blockbuster The Thoughts on Life and Awareness which was second only to The Da Vinci Code on the Slovenian bestseller lists.

Drnovsek, who holds a PhD in economics, served as prime minister for almost a decade and is credited with having lifted his country out of the Balkan cauldron straight into the European Union. He still enjoys wide public support, but since his conversion to the simple things in life he has ditched his Liberal Democratic party to found the Movement for Justice and Development, which aims to “restrict the logic of capital and profit and provide a social as well as environmentally more balanced world�.

His criticism of the EU, the United Nations and politicians in general is harsh. “Politicians say what they think people want to hear. They don’t speak the language of a higher consciousness. They don’t really know what they’re saying,� he said. To critics, he retorted: “I have reached my inner peace and I am not afraid any more.�

Article by Bojan Pancevski in Zaplana for The Times

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