Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic went to the west of the country on Saturday to, as he said, talk to people who were against the Rio Tinto lithium mining in their villages, amid environmentalists' protests across Serbia against two laws they said would enable the Anglo-Australian company to "devastate" their region and endangered their health.
Vucic earlier said he would go to the village of Gornje Nedeljice in a few days but suddenly decided to appear there hours before the widespread protests started at 2 pm. The protesters said would not meet him since they learned about his visit from the media, and were notified by his office late on Friday.
Those against the laws on referendum and expropriation gathered over the ‘Ne damo Jadar’ (We Don’t Give Jadar) NGO refused to meet the President and blocked roads leading to the centre of protest, the village of Gornje Nedeljice where Vucic met with a group of villagers in the local church.
He was first listening to their questions and complaints and said he would answer them at the end.
Some said they were worried about the ‘Jadar’ project and the Rio Tinto’s buying off their property and pleaded with the President to help them, thanking him for coming to listen to them.
However, the protesters from Gornje Nedeljice and nearby villages had a different message to the head of state.
„He hid in a rathole with sold souls. He will say he has talked to people, but he met those who have been prepared to give certain answers. They told him about their problems, but he would know how to pack it nicely,“ one protestor told N1.