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Serbia: Mass protests demand resignations and social change

World Sunday 11/June/2023 14:45 PM
By: DW
Serbia: Mass protests demand resignations and social change

Belgrade: Tens of thousands of people participated in anti-government protests in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Friday.

This was the sixth protest after 18 people were killed in two unrelated mass shootings in May.

Serbians blame the government and certain tabloids for promoting a culture of violence and hatred.

Left-wing and liberal opposition parties gathered in front of the parliament in the city center and called for the protest.

They marched in two separate columns to the government building and chanted slogans like "Vucic out!" referring to President Aleksandar Vucic while holding banners that read "Students against violence."

They demanded the resignation of the president, Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic and secret service chief Aleksandar Vulin, who they blame for failing to bring criminal groups to justice.

The other demands include the withdrawal of national broadcast licenses for television channels Pink TV and Happy TV and a ban on certain tabloids who they say contribute to creating a climate of violence.

Vucic rejects accountability
Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday that she was willing to resign. She invited the opposition parties that have backed the protests to engage in a dialog.

However, protest leaders said they would not speak to the government until all their demands were met.

Vucic said that his government was not at fault for the shootings.

"Is the government to blame for crimes that happened? I cannot accept that," he said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Milica, who has been protesting on the streets, said that she expects the protests to continue as "there is no other way."

"I think at one point the government will have to give in, this is a large number of people and eventually they will have to give in to this pressure," she said.

Protests sparked by mass shootings
Serbia was rocked by two unprecedented mass shootings last month.

On May 3, a teenager killed ten students at an elementary school. On May 4, a 21-year-old man killed eight people in a town near Belgrade.

The two unrelated incidents caused nationwide horror as mass shootings are rare in Serbia.

The tragedy sparked a debate about violence in the Balkan country, whose history is seeped in decades of crises and conflicts.

Gun culture is widespread in Serbia — the region is among the top countries with the number of guns per capita in Europe.

Guns are mainly used to fire during celebrations, but the idolizing of warriors is still part of the national identity.