The Trifunovic brothers for AP: Protests are the last chance to pull ourselves out of the abyss

Associated Press has dedicated an entire article to Serbian actors, brothers Sergej and Branislav Trifunovic, who have become increasingly politically engaged as of late. The article says that the two of them felt compelled to take the lead in the protests against the autocratic Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, since “everybody should contribute as much as they can”.

The two brothers are among the main public faces of the demonstrations against populist leader Aleksandar Vucic’s firm grip on power that started in early December. They march with the masses and speak at rallies. Sergej Trifunovic also has taken a role leading a liberal political movement.

The Trifunovics, who act in Serbian theatre productions, films and TV shows, say they couldn’t bow out from the struggle for democracy in the Balkan country because they believe everyone should do their part.

“Nobody else would do it. Somebody had to,” older brother Sergej Trifunovic said of his decision to officially enter the political arena. “We can’t just sit with our hands on our backs, waiting for a messiah to fall from the sky and solve our problems.”

Sergej Trifunovic has stood out with his outspoken criticism of Serbia’s government. Such open political involvement comes with a price — greater public scrutiny and fierce attacks in pro-government tabloids.

For the Trifunovics, though, the protests are the “last chance” to pull Serbia back from the “edge of an abyss,” said Branislav Trifunovic.

“We didn’t really need this, Sergej and I. We could have just lived on our comfortable lives and have fun,” he said. “But it all hurts me, all the lies and manipulation, all the stealing, corruption. It’s all an insult to common sense.”

The Trifunovic brothers stepped in almost from the start: Branislav Trifunovic spoke at the first protest and later joined the protest organizers. His older brother verbally clashed with Vucic’s supporters, who have sought to downplay the weekly gatherings.

“I’ve been the enemy of the state for a while now,” Sergej Trifunovic joked, noting that he took part in anti-Milosevic protests during the 1990s’ as well.

The brothers said they didn’t think twice about their celebrity images as they shifted from entertainment to real-life concerns with high stakes. They recently posted Twitter videos of themselves boozing it up and partying, behaviour that many people in this conservative country deem unfit for political figures.

“The moment you enter politics and openly take sides … you strip yourself of half of your audience, who will no longer view you the same way,” Branislav Trifunovic said.

Sergej and Branislav Trifunovic said they want to withdraw from politics once Serbia becomes a true democracy with the rule of law.

“I fight for a Serbia without an autocracy … and once it is done, I will say ‘Goodbye, come watch me in the theatre,’” Sergej Trifunovic said. “But I won’t give up. I will go to the end. I always do.”

The demonstrations have not appeared to visibly shake Vucic’s position, although some analysts detect shifts in the political atmosphere that they believe fuel hope changes are possible.

(Seebiz, AP, 24.02.2019)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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