Student activists from the #1in5 million protest movement clashed briefly with young men they said were activists of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) during Friday’s blockade of the Belgrade University’s Rectorate.
A video posted on the 1 in 5 Million (#1od5miliona) Facebook page shows a group of young men pushing and shoving each other amid shouts of “Push Him Out”. It also showed that a man in a white shirt was shoved out of the doors of the Rectorate. An N1 reporter interviewed an elderly woman outside the doors of the rector’s offices who said she was there in support of the party of President Aleksandar Vucic. “We were called to come here as a party,” she said.
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A press release from the organization which has been organizing the regular weekly protests in the Serbian capital for months listed several reasons for the blockade of the University Rector‘s offices, including as the main reason “the plagiarized doctoral thesis by Finance Minister Sinisa Mali”. Their main demand is the dismissal of the minister which would be initiated by the rector’s request sent to Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
Other reasons for Friday’s protest include what the protesters say is inappropriate treatment of the education system by officials (including Education Minister Mladen Sarcevic), Belgrade University’s drop in ratings in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Shanghai List), disruption of classes and exams because of the University Games along with the temporary eviction of students from their dormitories during the games, a shortage of textbooks and classrooms.
The press release warned of a conflict of interest over Mali’s doctorate since the Finance Minister decides on the university budget. “His dismissal would remove the pressure on the Rectorate and Rector Ivanka Popovic and would create an atmosphere which would allow for an objective ruling,” it said.
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