Several international media outlets have reported in detail about the latest protests in Belgrade and Serbian President’s press conference, Aleksandar Vucic after the protestors stormed the building housing state-run media outlet, Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS).
Associated Press reports that the demonstrators burst into state-run TV headquarters in Belgrade on Saturday to denounce a broadcaster which reporting they consider highly biased.
Helmeted and baton-wielding riot police arrived at the scene in the Serbian capital and tried to evict hundreds of people, including some opposition leaders, who had entered the downtown building. Some protest leaders said they won’t leave until they are given time on the main evening news.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic warned the protesters to leave the TV building or police would move in to “protect all Serbian TV journalists.”
The Guardian reports that, following the Saturday and Sunday protests, Aleksandar Vucic branded opposition leaders as ‘fascists, hooligans and thieves’. “There will be no more violence,” Vucic said and added: “Serbia is a democratic country, a country of law and order and Serbia will know how to respond.”
As Vucic held a news conference Sunday in the presidency building in downtown Belgrade, thousands of opposition supporters gathered in front demanding his resignation and trapping him in the building for a few hours.
Skirmishes with riot police were reported, including officers firing teargas against the protesters who sought to form a human chain around the presidency to prevent Vucic from leaving the building.
During the blockade of the presidency building, Pink TV showed a photo of Vucic playing chess with the interior minister apparently inside the presidency – the Guardian reports and adds that Vucic was seen leaving the building after the most protesters dispersed.
Reuters quotes one of the opposition leaders, Borko Stefanovic who said:”We shall continue the blockade of the presidency and we will not leave until our demands are met or unless we get firm guarantees that our demands will be met,”
Vucic has previously said he would not bow to opposition demands for electoral reform and increased media freedom “even if there were five million people in the street”, but said he was willing to test his party’s popularity at an early election.
Reuters goes on to say that the protesters, who have been staging such rallies every weekend for more than three months, blew whistles and shouted “Resign!” as Vucic gave a press conference inside the presidency building.
“Anti-government demonstrators last stormed the state TV building, known as the government mouthpiece, on October 5, 2000, bringing down the regime of strongman Slobodan Milosevic,” Reuters adds.
“While during previous protests, held weekly since December 8th, there was virtually no police present, this time around the riot police came with a full anti-riot gear to face the protestors”, the French news agency, France Press reports.
The French press agency calls Vucic “a former ultra-nationalist who became a pro-European centrist”, and adds that Vucic has been vehemently rejecting accusations of authoritarianism.
(Naslovi.net, Beta, 17.03.2019)
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