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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Slovenian President Known For His Off-the-Job Antics

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- Looking for the true meaning of life? Slovenia's president may be able to help.

Janez Drnovsek's self-help books have won admiration from many, including French actress and activist Brigitte Bardot, but the veteran leader's eccentricity is embarrassing some in Slovenia as the tiny Alpine state seeks a role in the European mainstream.

A vegetarian who bakes his own bread, the president was one of the architects of Slovenia's independence. His unorthodox lifestyle, fight for animal rights and disdain for traditional politics have made him a popular figure.

For six months last year, he advised readers about their daily problems in a popular women's magazine. He is now writing his third new book on awareness.

Although diagnosed with cancer in 1999, he stopped visiting doctors a few years ago and now claims to be healthy, saying he no longer seeks political power but deals with moral values.

Taking up a vegetarian diet since the cancer diagnosis, he left his home in the capital for a village on a hill near Ljubljana where he lives alone, grows his own vegetables and often fasts.

Bardot wrote to him last year, saying: "If only we had a candidate [in the French presidential election] like Drnovsek ... the world would quickly become less intolerable."

Borut Hocevar, an editor at the Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik, summed up Drnovsek's appeal. "Drnovsek is eccentric at times. But he is popular, particularly because of this eccentricity, because of his promotion of healthful living and alternative approaches, which are not usual among politicians," Hocevar said.