Eight days after the local and parliamentary elections in Serbia, the protests organized by the Serbia against Violence coalition are still going on. The protesters accused the government of electoral fraud and demanded that election results in Belgrade should be annulled.
On Monday, the rallies lasted the longest – students from Belgrade and Novi Sad blocked the building of the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government from early morning, as well as the intersection in front of the Government of Serbia, and later joined the opposition in a protest in front of the headquarters of the State Election Commission (RIK).
The protest ended with a walk to the Belgrade Police Department, where they demanded the release of dozens of people detained on Sunday, when during the protest in front of the Belgrade Assembly there was a conflict between demonstrators and the police force, as well as an attempt to forcefully enter the building, breaking windows and doors.
“Most parents do not know where their children are. They are detained somewhere in police stations all over Belgrade. Parents will have to call the police themselves, wait for an email or come with legal representatives in order to find out where their children are detained,” Miroslav Aleksić, one of the leaders of Serbia against Violence coalition, quoted what the police told him.
A group of 345 Belgrade University professors and associates lent support to the students’ protest.
“Whoever steals election results steals the future. Falsifying ballots, registering illegal residences and electoral engineering are a scandalous attempt by the authorities to once again take our country from us, but this time there is much more at stake – our common sense and the last remnants of self-respect. If we allow this electoral fraud to continue, we will be humiliated and repressed, we will show that we do not have the strength to fight for ourselves and our children,” said the University staff in a press release.
They said, “we stand by our students who are defending on the streets of Belgrade the citizens’ basic right – the right to choose.”
“We teach them to be free citizens, to think with their own head and to fight for a better society. That is why we are siding with them now. That is why we are asking for the annulment of the December 17 election, for the election rolls to be updated and for elections to be repeated, under fair conditions. We must not give up on these demands. If we do, these will be the last elections in Serbia,” they added.
Both Russian and American ambassadors to Serbia, Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko and Christopher Hill respectively, gave statements apropos the protests. The Russian ambassador told the Russia-24 television channel that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic informed him that the West was the one behind yesterday’s unrest in Belgrade.
“I talked with Vucic about that and I cannot disclose any details, it is confidential information. But he has undeniable proof that the West is instigating the unrest in Serbia,” Botsan-Kharchenko said following his meeting with the Serbian President on Monday.
US Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, said violence and vandalism against state institutions have no place in a democratic society and added that the legitimacy of democratic processes depends upon transparency and on the readiness of all parties to respect the will of the people.
“In the hours and days ahead, Serbia’s leaders and its citizens should remember: The legitimacy of democratic processes depends upon transparency and on the readiness of all parties, winning or losing, to respect the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box“, Hill wrote on the X social media platform.
Opposition politicians announced a new gathering for today at 6 pm in front of the RIK building.
(BBC Serbia, Blic, Politika, 26.12.2023)
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