By Bojana Barlovac
Serbia’s national security council has decided to ban all gatherings scheduled for the weekend including the annual gay pride parade which was due to take place on October 2, over concerns of violent clashes.
The ban, announced this afternoon, came shortly after Serbia’s Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told press that police would not be able to prevent violence if it was held.
“Due to security reasons, police cannot support the events being held as they will result in conflicts, victims’ blood, and therefore we will get into a big mess,” Dacic said earlier today. “The police has faced a choice – to let the riots occur, or to pray to God that it will not happen,” he added.
Several Serbian far-right organisations had scheduled rival rallies on the day of the parade, raising fears that there would be street disturbances on the same scale, or worse, than those experienced last year.
On Tuesday, the leader of Serbia’s Independent Police Union, Momcilo Vidojevic, said the police had obtained information that some rightists were preparing an operation under the alarming codename “Belgrade in flames” for October 2.
“According to our intelligence, hooligans are planning to hold destructive protests in all Belgrade municipalities and in some other Serbian towns,” Vidojevic said. He also said that police were not adequately equipped for such potentially violent events.
Last October’s parade, the first to be held since 2009, ended in mayhem as stone-throwing anti-gay youths clashed with police.