Right-wingers organize a rally in front of a migrant reception centre in support of an arrested member of far-right organization Levijatan

Screenshot; far right rally in front of migrant reception centre in Obrenovac, Serbia; Radio Free Europe / Youtube

About 50 members of the “Levijatan” and “I live for Serbia” far right movements gathered yesterday in front of a migrant centre in Obrenovac near Belgrade, into which their comrade-in-arms, Filip Radovanović, forced his way by car last week. Filipović was arrested on the occasion.

The rallying far-right activists stated that their aim was to express support for Radovanović, who drove into the same migrant centre last week, shouting racist and anti-migrant messages. The gathered said that they knew that Radovanović did wrong, but they added that he was detained for up to 30 days because of pressure from the media and non-governmental organizations, which declared him a terrorist.

Filip Radovanović from Obrenovac, who is, according to the media, an activist of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and a member of far right movement Levijatan, ended up in detention after all. Although Radovanović was granted bail after breaking into the migrant centre, the prosecution filed an appeal against that court decision, and he was ordered to be detained for up to 30 days.

Filip Radovanović, member of far right movement Levijatan forced his way by car into a migrant reception centre in Obrenovac; Photo: Filip R. on a recording he made himself; Screenshot; Local newspaper / Youtube

Filip Radovanović is president of the Commission of the Municipality of Obrenovac Council for cooperation with the youth and associations. At the same time he works as an employee in the PE Sports and Cultural Centre Obrenovac. According to the media, he was appointed to those positions as party cadre of the SNS.

After a video appeared, which Radovanović himself took while he broke through the fence of the reception centre by car and drove through it at high speed, president of the far right movement Levijatan confirmed on social networks that the young man was their member.

The right to freedom of opinion or the right to threaten the Other?

The right-wingers gathered at yesterday’s rally stated they also had the right to their opinion. They claim that it would not have been heard had the protest not been organized. Jovana Stojković, a medical doctor who advocates anti-vaccine policies and with whom Levijatan’s president Bihali formed a coalition running in the next elections, said that “the media have come up with the slogan xenophobia which means nothing”.

Current laws of the Republic of Serbia prohibit expression of ideas, information and opinions that incite discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons due to their personal characteristics, as well as harassment and degrading treatment aimed at or violating the dignity of persons or groups of persons on the basis of their personal characteristics, especially if this creates fear or a hostile, humiliating and offensive environment.

After the incident in which Radovanović took part, the Commissariat for Refugees pointed out that all migrants in Serbia, who have been isolated in the centres since the introduction of the state of emergency, want only one thing, and that is to leave Serbia as soon as possible. What is absurd is that this is, also, the wish of those who attack them daily on social media.

Levijatan will run in the elections; Photo: Medija centar Beograd

At yesterday’s rally, Bihali stated that Radovanović was detained for 30 days due to suspicion that he could repeat the crime he is charged with, and that he did not repeat the crime in two or three days in the meantime.

Bihali added that they are fighting hard against non-governmental organizations, which, according to his words, is also written in their program, because “what they are doing cannot be tolerated any more”. Both the Levijatan Movement Serbia and Bihali’s Leviathan Movement Foundation are registered as associations and foundations, i.e. on the same legal basis as most of the non-governmental organizations they fight against and whose ban they advocate in their programs.

I.P.

Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić

This article was originally published in Serbian on May 14, 2020.

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