The Youth Protection Association (Udruženje za zaštitu mladih) claims to be the organizer of the counter-action protest, during which they lit torches and set off smoke bombs on the roofs of residential buildings in Belgrade, as well as chanted offensive messages involving the President of the Freedom and Justice Party, Dragan Djilas.
Apparently, the Association receives money for its projects from the budget of the city of Belgrade and other local units in Serbia. Their Articles of Association states that “one of its objectives is to support a tolerant and non-discriminatory society”.
According to the data on the website of the Business Register Agency, the Association was founded in March 2015 in Rakovica and its representative is Ivan Djordjevic, who lives in Belgrade.
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According to the Articles of Association, the Association was established to create a “civil society and enable the participation of young people in public life in Serbia”. Some of the objectives are the promotion of youth activism in public life, facilitating the importance of human rights and the promotion of European values, the use of sport and education for the healthy growth of youth and the promotion of a tolerant and non-discriminatory society.
The official Facebook page of the Association is difficult to access because the administrators limited the visibility of the posts.
Their Instagram profile, on the other hand, contains posts announcing a counter-action: “Say no to those who supported the coronavirus against Serbia”, and mention “political tycoons” and “those who became millionaires at the expense of citizens”, along with photographs of opposition leaders Dragan Djilas, Vuk Jeremic, Bosko Obradovic, Sergej Trifunovic and others.
Previously, the Association was responsible for the distribution of theatre tickets and the promotion of the Road Safety Agency’s safe driving campaign.
In previous years, it was committed to organising and participating in pro-government actions, such as the one in front of the Vojvodina Radio and Television in June 2016, or the one against civil society protests after the demolition in Savamala. At the same time, the Association members were involved in the promotion of the Belgrade Waterfront project, under the media sponsorship of the Studio B TV station.
In January 2017, the Association members distributed advertising material regarding the Belgrade Waterfront development to citizens with the message that “thanks to the Belgrade Waterfront project, young people will no longer have to leave the country to work abroad, but will be able to build a career in their homeland.”
According to the news site Nova.rs, five days after the introduction of the state of emergency, the Association’s project, titled “If life was a film” was on the list of projects approved by the City of Belgrade’s Youth Office. According to the relevant document, which was published on the city’s website, this project will be awarded 700,000 dinars in financing.
The independent cultural association called Nezavisna Kulturna Scena Srbije (NKSS) has talked a lot about the Youth Protection Association, and last year it reported omissions and violations of procedures in the distribution of funds from the city budget for cultural projects. The NKSS also mentioned the Youth Protection Association in this context, which questionable project “Culture for Youth” had received 900,000 dinars in financing.
It is worth mention that a member of the Serbian Progressive Party and an MP, Vladimir Djukanovic announced the Association’s protest that was about to take place on the roofs of buildings in Belgrade:
“Tonight, at half-past eight, I will use a loudspeaker to relay certain messages. I would like to invite all the people to do something similar through a real civic reaction to this nonsense (Djukanovic was referring to the 8:05 pm protest during which people are banging into pots and pans). I’m glad this will be broadcasted on social media. Stop the tycoons, stop the thieves and bandits who have destroyed this country”.
According to Nova.rs” the Youth Protection Association had received money from the city’s budget a year earlier, when 700,000 dinars had been paid to them for their participation in the Belgrade Festival of Young Talents. Among the approved projects was the Association’s project called “With culture towards youth”, which the city government-funded with 350,000 dinars.
Commenting on these protest actions and the lighting of torches and smoke bombs on the roofs of residential buildings, President Vucic denied that the SNS had anything to do with it and blamed “some kind of youth organization”.
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