The 1 in 5 Million Saturday protest in the Serbian capital dealt with two issues this week – culture and air pollution and the removal of the tram bridge across the Sava river.
Belgrade was one of the most polluted cities in the world over the past 10 days with civil society organization activists claiming that the main cause of the rise in air pollution were the fires at the city landfill in the Vinca Suburb. The removal of the old tram bridge was announced by deputy Mayor Goran Vesic who said it would be relocated to a park in New Belgrade, drawing fierce protests from both the opposition and civil society organizations amid claims that the bridge was being removed because it was viewed as an eyesore which is too close to the Belgrade Waterfront luxury apartment buildings.
One of the speakers at the protest, Irena Zivkovic called the crowd to come to the town of Bor on November 15 for a protest, saying that what was underway there is not pollution but a crime. The RTB Bor mining and smelting company in that town was recently taken over by a Chinese corporation which has promised to keep its operations environmentally clean. She said the RTB Bor management was not allowing employees to attend anti-pollution protests and added that air pollution in Bor is at much higher levels than permitted by law.
This week’s protest march went to the old tram bridge to show opposition to its removal. The bridge pre-dates WW 2 and was saved from destruction by retreating Nazi forces by a retired teacher who cut the wires linking the detonator switch to the explosive charges.