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.