The world media have reported on the second night of protests in Belgrade, saying that the police have again massively used tear gas against thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament and that there are severely injured people, including opposition leaders.
Associated Press (AP) reports that the police fired tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters in Serbia’s capital on Wednesday as violence erupted for the second day in a row during demonstrations against the president’s handling of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
“President Aleksandar Vucic backtracked on his plans to reinstate a coronavirus lockdown in Belgrade this week, but it didn’t stop people from firing flares and throwing stones while trying to storm the downtown parliament building. A number of people were injured during clashes in front of the parliament that started peacefully but soon turned violent, fueling tensions in the Balkan country, which is battling a surge in virus infection cases,” AP reports and adds:
“Police on horses and in armoured vehicles intervened in the city centre to push back the demonstrators, setting up cordons and blocking the crowd from returning to the square outside the parliament building.
Tear gas was fired in several spots. Some protesters overturned garbage containers and set them on fire while trying to stop the police officers pushing them away.”
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Reuters reports that “most of the protesters on Wednesday evening wore face masks, blew whistles and shouted “Vucic leave!” as they faced off with riot police guarding the Parliament complex. Some threw stones and flares at police who responded with volleys of tear gas.”
“Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said 10 policemen have been injured. He did not say how many demonstrators have been hurt. TV footage showed policemen beating up protesters. Violence also erupted in the northern town of Novi Sad, Nis in the south and Kragujevac in central Serbia when police clashed with anti-government protesters.
Vucic on Wednesday said he had ultimately advised the government and health authorities not to introduce a new lockdown in Belgrade. The government will announce a new set of restrictive measures on Thursday, he said,” Reuters writes.
Deutsche Welle has also been closely following violent clashes in Belgrade streets and it reports the following:” Serbian security forces deployed armoured transporters, mounted police, and dogs as anti-government protesters gathered in downtown Belgrade on Wednesday evening. Police used tear gas with scuffles breaking out in Belgrade and Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad. Images from the city showed fire in Novi Sad city hall. In Nis, the country’s third-largest city, protesters threw rocks at the ruling party headquarters.
Protesters blame the government for the infection spread. The authorities, led by strongman President Aleksandar Vucic, imposed draconian lockdown measures in the earlier stages of the outbreak but then lifted all coronavirus restrictions as the country was nearing a parliamentary election. Vucic had insisted on pushing ahead with the June 21 vote, which saw his camp score a resounding victory. Major sporting events, including a tennis tournament and a top-level football game, were also held in front of thousands of fans. Many also accuse the government of fudging official data and downplaying the risk in order to hold the election.”
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