Protests in largest Serbian cities. Government answers with police violence

Protest in Belgrade; Foto: Nemanja Jovanović / Kamerades

Protests in Serbia erupted on July 7 after president Aleksandar Vučić announced that the government will  reintroduce heavy restrictive measures due to the bad epidemiological situation in the country. During his announcement the president blamed the citizens for the acute health crisis. The protests continued last night in several cities in Serbia. Similarly to the first night, there were riots and brutal police violence.

In the Serbian capital Belgrade, demonstrators gathered in front of the House of The National Assembly. What started out as peaceful rally, was first disrupted by a group of people who physically attacked opposition politican Sergej Trifunović.

This incident was followed by an outbreak of clashes between small groups of protesters and the police. The police responded with brutal violence, shooting large amounts of teargas into the croud numbering thousands, deploying armored vehicles, antiterrorist divisions and cavalry.

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Footage from both nights shows unnecessary use of force by the police, which, even after braking up the epicenter of the protest, continued to intercept and use violence against small groups of fleeing demonstrators.

Almost simultaneously with the clashes in Belgrade, groups of demonstrators in Novi Sad first broke several windows of public broadcaster RTV headquarters and of the office of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party. The violence culminated when a small group attacked City Hall, throwing rocks, garbage cans and Molotov cocktails on the building, damaging doors and windows.

Strangely enough the police left the building unguarded and started to intercept and attack random protesters when they where departing, and the protest was coming to an end. The police used teargas on smaller groups of people, and made arrests.

Serbian police beating protesters; Foto: Marko Rupena / Kamerades

Novi Sad based left wing activist Miran Pogačar was also arrested, even though there is footage which proves that he was not involved in violent acts. Pogačar publicly read the demands of the protesters at the beginning of the event, and he is active in the anti-eviction movement as a member of the initative Joint Action Roof Over Your Head.

Some demonstrators who where carrying out violent act’s can be linked to far-right organizations.

A.J.

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