Protesters in Serbia took to the street a second night in a row on Wednesday. They are protesting what they perceive as an inconsistent policy of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic whose right-wing populist party emerged strengthened from recent elections. Dozens of police and protesters were injured. The police deployed armored vehicles to suppress the protest.
The protests have been called the “first major pandemic-related unrest in Europe”.
On Tuesday, Mr Vucic had announced that the Serbian capital Belgrade would be placed under a new three-day lockdown. This was widely seen as inconsistent with earlier policies that had eased restrictions ahead of the June 21 elections which delivered a resounding victory to Mr. Vucic.
Protesters on Tuesday stormed the parliament building in Belgrade. Far-right instigators, among them a member of the Serbian legislative assembly, were accused of leading the violence. Mr Vucic, on the other hand, claimed that the protests were related to EU-sponsored talks aimed at normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo. These talks that are set to restart on Sunday and are opposed by Serbian nationalists.
Protests also erupted in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city.
The protests come amid wider ranging concerns over the state of democracy in the Balkan country. Serbian President Vucic has repeatedly been accused of employing strong man tactics and suppressing dissent.
Mr Vucic has since backtracked on plans to enforce a second coronavirus lockdown. Even though he supports the lockdown, Mr. Vucic said, there would, “most probably, there will be no curfew.“