Citizens in Belgrade gathered on Saturday evening for the third time to protest against violence under the slogan ‘One of five million’ (Jedan od pet miliona).
Protesters gathered in front of the Philosophy Faculty and then spread out through the streets of Belgrade.
The first such protest took place two weeks ago, under the slogan ‘Stop to bloody shirts’. It was sparked by the beating of an opposition politician in the central town of Krusevac end of November.
After that first gathering, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that even if five million protesters would gather, he would not fulfil any of their demands. It is how the protests that followed got the new slogan.
Protesters blew whistles and carried banners with messages such as ‘It has begun’, ‘1 of 5 million’, ‘Until all are free, nobody is’. Some of them carried yellow vests with such messages written across, as well as badges with the previous slogan.
Some with rainbow-patterned flags joined the protest, carrying banners saying ‘Transphobia is violence’ and ‘Homophobia is violence’.
Journalist Milan Jovanovic, who was attacked after he wrote about corruption in the central town of Vrcin, addressed the crowd and said that people in Serbia now live in fear.
“For us, it has never been worse, and we are silent about it and whisper,” Jovanovic said.
“People keep quiet out of fear as speaking is dangerous today. You can lose your head as I nearly did,” he said.
Attackers had knocked on his door, but Jovanovic and his wife managed to escape in their pyjamas while their house and garage with the car in it were set ablaze with Molotov cocktails.
He said he initially thought about declining to join the protest because he does not belong to any political party, but then decided to join as a citizen who “sees what is not right.”