Saturday is Demo Day: Once again demonstrations have formed in Serbia. The protest is directed against the authoritarian president.
Demonstration for the fifth Saturday in a row: Belgrade on January 5, 2019 Photo: dpa
Thousands of people have once again taken to the streets in the Serbian capital Belgrade against President Aleksander Vucic. Participants in the fifth consecutive Saturday of protests criticized what they saw as the president’s increasingly authoritarian style of government. They also called for the resignation of the head of Serbia’s civil service.
"Serbia is gradually rising up, whole cities are rising up," actor Branislav Trifunovic told protesters, according to a report on private television station N1. "We are becoming more and more." Trifunovic is one of the leaders of the protest movement.
As at previous rallies, participants walked through the streets of Belgrade behind a large banner reading "One in Five Million." The inscription refers to an earlier statement by the president that he would not give in to opposition demands even if five million people demonstrated.
The demonstration procession stopped in front of the headquarters of the Broadcasting Corporation, where candles were lit, the Beta news agency reported. The opposition accuses the government of trying to silence the media and civil society. Protesters then moved on to the president’s official residence. There they chanted "Vucic, thief."
Vucic accused the opposition on Saturday of using the protests to grab power.
There were also protests in other cities in Serbia. Several hundred people took to the streets in Kragujevac and around 50 people in Novi Sad.
Vucic accused the opposition on Saturday of using the protests to grab power. Nevertheless, he expressed his willingness to "talk to the people. However, he ruled out talks with "thieves" and "political impostors. With this statement, he was referring to the Serbian opposition.
The demonstrations, which began on December 8, are the first significant protests since spring 2017, when thousands of mostly young Serbs took to the streets after Vucic’s election victory.