Protest blocks Serbian presidency, Belgrade police department

Source: N1

Sunday’s protest in central Belgrade started in front of the Serbian Presidency building while President Aleksandar Vucic was holding a news conference at noon and ended almost seven hours later in front of the city’s central police station.

Protesters initially gathered peacefully in the street and park around the presidency building before noon with a strong police presence a majority of who were in full riot gear with shields. The police formed cordons at the entrances to the building with temporary metal fencing put up but the protesters managed to throw down the barriers and get close to the president’s offices.

President Vucic held his news conference to the sound of whistles, boos and shouting outside the windows, starting with a comment about the crowd outside: “you can see how scared I am”.  

He said his first topic was 15th anniversary of the orchestrated violence against Serbs in Kosovo when a large number of churches and monasteries were desecrated and people forced to flee their homes and after speaking about that for a few minutes he turned to Saturday’s incident at the Serbian state TV headquarters.  

Vucic blamed the incident on Alliance for Serbia leaders “Fascist” (Dveri leader) Bosko Obradovic and tycoon Dragan Djilas, claiming that he was their target and that they wanted to come to power so they could continue stealing.

“It’s very important for people to know what is happening and we won’t allow a minority to run Serbia because it is violent. We will allow all protest but the violence is over,” he said.

Outside the building, the crowd was called to form a ring around the entrances and exits to prevent the president from leaving. Vucic responded later with a photograph on his Twitter account, showing him playing chess inside the presidency with Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic.  

The president left the building only after the protest broke up with just a few protesters left shouting insults and booing him as he got into his car.

 There was some pushing and shoving between police and protesters with the most serious incident taking place at an intersection near the presidency when Obradovic wanted to get past the police cordon with the sound truck used at all 1 in 5 Million protests.

The police used force but Obradovic and a group of protesters managed to get the truck through.

The protest in front of the presidency broke up after some two hours when Obradovic called the crowd to march to the central police station to demand the release of several young men, arrested over the RTS incident and during Sunday’s protest. The crowd moved to the police station where a cordon prevented them from entering the building and the parking lot where Minister Stefanovic was standing with senior police officers.

 Obradovic demanded that the minister allow the parents of the arrested protesters access to their sons which they were allowed to do after a while amid rumours that the arrested men had been taken to court for sentencing. One of them was later reported to have been taken to the city Emergency Centre following an anxiety attack.

 The crowd broke up at around 06:00 pm after Obradovic gave the police a deadline of 03:00 pm on Monday to release every arrested protester.V

Vucic told his news conference that people from Kosovo wanted to come to Belgrade to defend him which he said they should not do and his words were echoed by other officials of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) who said that people from the interior of the country wanted to come to Belgrade to defend the state from the opposition. SNS deputy leader and Novi Sad Mayor Milos Vucevic said that some 200 people had gathered in front of the local party headquarters demanding to go to the Serbian capital.