Skirmishes between plainclothes police and '1 in 5 million' Belgrade protesters

Skirmishes between plainclothes police and '1 in 5 million' Belgrade protesters

Skirmishes between plainclothes police and  '1 in 5 million' Belgrade protesters Izvor: N1

People in Belgrade gathered for regular Saturday's evening rally to mark the first anniversary of the anti-government protests, but while stopping outside the country's Parliament, some minor clashes with people in civilian clothes who identified themselves as the police, occurred, N1 reported.

The jubilant rally, the 53rd in a row that has been going on every Saturday after an opposition leader was beaten up in the central town of Krusevac, started at the main city's square where speakers addressed the crowd.

After that, the demonstrators marched through the city and, led by Bosko Obradovic, an opposition leader, stopped outside the Parliament building, where they wanted to symbolically check if the institution was working

They were prevented by a group of apparently plainclothes policemen.

There were some jostle and minor physical contacts. Some of the protesters carried banners reading 'Serbia,' 'Uprising' and "Arrest (Serbia's President Aleksandar) Vucic.'

Protesters filled in the entire space around the Parliament's entry and chanted at those guarding the entrance whether they were protecting the Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic, a member of Vucic's ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

Soon after that, people left the area around the building.

For the first time in a year, the '1 in 5 million movement hasn't announced the rally to the police in a protest over the lack of any further institutional reactions after one of their member were attacked and choked by a man the police arrested last Saturday.

N1 reporter said that the traffic around the central city's square where the protest started stopped and that no uniform or traffic police were seen. However, the presence of plainclothes officers was visible, the reporter noted.

On December 7, 2018, the first anti-government rally was organised following the attack on Borko Stefanovic and two of his associates. Masked thugs have heavily beaten Stefanovic while he was coming to the central Krusevac town for an opposition debate.

Stefanovic suffered blows to the head hit by metal bars and was kicked while laying on the ground, what the opposition described as attempted murder.

The first protests were called 'Stop Bloody Shirts' after Stefanovic's shirt was soaked with blood from the head wound.

Three men were arrested under suspicions of attacking Stefanovic and ordered 30 days in police custody.

All three were earlier convicted for different crimes, and one of them should have been under house arrest when took place in the attack

Their trial is still going on, and they have pleaded not guilty.

After several Saturday's "Stop Bloody Shirts,' protests, President Aleksandar Vucic said he would not cede to the demonstrators' demands even if "five million of them gather," and thus gave the protest new name - #1 in 5 million.

This Saturday, the speakers included Vladimir Gajic, a lawyer and the defence attorney to the Krusik ammunition factory whistleblower who had been in jail and under house arrest for 81 days "without single evidence against him," according to Gajic.

He compared the judiciary in Serbia to the one in the USSR during the rule of Joseph Stalin.

Gajic praised demonstrators for being persistent and said: "We won't take a single step back until we don't liberate ourselves from this bandits."

Another speaker, Zarko Trebjesanin, a professor, said this "autocratic regime" encouraged ignorance, intolerance, courting and stupidity to deliberately destroy education and culture.

Marinika Tepic, deputy leader of the opposition Freedom and Justice Party, said people in the street "will win over this evil."

"This is not just a protest; it's a struggle to get the state back to the people, fight for life and for our children to stay here and not to see them leave with a one-way ticket," Tepic said, adding that #1 in 5 million protests freed people from fear.

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