ISSN 2330-717X

Serbs Brave Cold To Continue Anti-Vucic Protests


By Maja Zivanovic and Jovana Prusina

Thousands of protesters braved freezing temperatures in the Serbian capital on Saturday for the latest in a series of rallies against what they see as the government’s authoritarian policies.

For the sixth weekend in a row, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, for a protest march, passing by the country’s main institutions to voice their anger at the political situation in the country and the rule of President Aleksandar Vucic, who they believe is increasingly autocratic.

Shouting “Vucic thief” and holding banners reading “Your time will end”, addressed to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, led by Vucic, the protesters braved sub-zero temperatures. 

The latest protest comes a day after its organisers asked President Vucic in a press release to present his plan for solving the longstanding dispute with Kosovo if he has one.

They highlighted that it’s Serbian citizens who Vucic should be addressing when it comes to reaching a solution on Kosovo-Serbia relations, not “Brussels, Washington, Moscow or Pristina”.

The protest organisers alleged that it was Vucic’s policies that lead to the “the withdrawal of Serbia from Kosovo”.

“It’s been eight years since you promised you would cancel everything anyone has signed concerning Kosovo once you came to power. You have been in power for seven years now, and it’s been six years since you signed the Brussels Agreement and imposed it [on Serbia],” the press release said.

The organisers also accused Vucic of lying about the number of Serbs still living in Kosovo.

“Why are you lying to us, Aleksandar Vucic? There are Serbs in Kosovo, and there is Serb land [in Kosovo],” they said.

In his response to the press release, Vucic said he was “lost for words with how stupid it is” and added that he will not use his time to reply to opposition leaders.

The next protest is scheduled for January 16, marking the first anniversary of the murder of a Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic, whose death remains unsolved.

President Vucic has said he will not bow to the protesters’ demands but has hinted that he might call a fresh general election instead.

Protests have also taken place in the central Serbian city of Kragujevac, Nis in the country’s south, Novi Sad in the north and the towns of Pozega and Kursumlija in recent weeks.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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