ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia Protesters Deny Politicians Are ‘Taking Over’ Movement


By Filip Rudic


Organisers of the “1 of 5 million” protests against the rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic insist that the protests will retain their civic character, despite political leaders becoming more prominent in the movement, especially after last weekends’ stormy protests.

“The relationship remains the same … the idea is for this to remain a civic protest,” one of the organisers, Srdjan Markovic, told BIRN.

After protesters last Saturday entered the Serbian national broadcaster, RTS, and gathered in front of the Serbian Presidency the following day, some media started asking if the protests were being taken over by political parties.

But the leader of the far-right Dveri party, Bosko Obradovic, who has become prominent in the latest anti-government rallies, on Thursday denied he and others were “taking over” the protest movement.

“The protest cannot be overtaken by anyone because it is an authentic outcry of people reacting to what is happening in their country,” Obradovic told the daily newspaper Danas.


The weekly anti-government protests in Serbia have drawn smaller numbers in the last few weeks, but the rally in Belgrade escalated last weekend, after some people entered RTS and were expelled by police.

The following day, protesters gathered in front of the Serbian presidency where they again clashed with the police while President Vucic was holding a press conference inside.

Several protesters were arrested for the incidents at RTS and some were remanded in custody. Others were rapidly handed misdemeanour charges.

However, after the arrest of an 18-year-old student named Pavle Cvejic caused an outcry, Vucic offered a pardon to all those facing charges, and appealed also to the misdemeanour court to drop the charges. This, however, drew accusations that he was violating the constitution by influencing the courts.

Five protesters, including Cvejic, were released on Wednesday after the court threw out their charges. On the same day, about a hundred Belgrade University students marched in protest against the arrests of their classmates.

Markovic said the arrests showed that the government’s primary target was not opposition politicians but the young – and called for a united front against the system. “We are all the same for this regime. We need to put our differences aside,” Markovic said.

Balkan Insight

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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