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Serbia: Mass protests demand resignations and social change

June 10, 2023

Two mass shootings led to huge anti-government rallies and protesters demanded President Vucic's resignation. Vucic rejected that his government is to blame for the shootings.

Thousands of protesters take part in a rally to call for the resignation of top officials and curtailing violence in the media
Thousands of protesters take part in a rally to call for the resignation of top officials and curtailing violence in the mediaImage: Andewj Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people participated in anti-government protests in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Friday.

This was the sixth protest after 18 people were killed in two unrelated mass shootings in May.

Serbians blame the government and certain tabloids for promoting a culture of violence and hatred.

Protesters demand president's resignation

Left-wing and liberal opposition parties gathered in front of the parliament in the city center and called for the protest.

They marched in two separate columns to the government building and chanted slogans like "Vucic out!" referring to President Aleksandar Vucic while holding banners that read "Students against violence."

Serbs protest illegal weapons possession


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They demanded the resignation of the president, Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic and secret service chief Aleksandar Vulin, who they blame for failing to bring criminal groups to justice.

The other demands include the withdrawal of national broadcast licenses for television channels Pink TV and Happy TV and a ban on certain tabloids who they say contribute to creating a climate of violence.

Vucic rejects accountability 

Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday that she was willing to resign. She invited the opposition parties that have backed the protests to engage in a dialog.

However, protest leaders said they would not speak to the government until all their demands were met.

Protesters want several leading Serbian politicians to resignImage: Darko Vojinovic/AP/picture alliance

Vucic said that his government was not at fault for the shootings.

"Is the government to blame for crimes that happened? I cannot accept that," he said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Milica, who has been protesting on the streets, said that she expects the protests to continue as "there is no other way."

"I think at one point the government will have to give in, this is a large number of people and eventually they will have to give in to this pressure," she said.

Protests sparked by mass shootings

Serbia was rocked by two unprecedented mass shootings last month.

On May 3, a teenager killed ten students at an elementary school. On May 4, a 21-year-old man killed eight people in a town near Belgrade.

Serbian leader pledges gun controls after shootings


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The two unrelated incidents caused nationwide horror as mass shootings are rare in Serbia.

The tragedy sparked a debate about violence in the Balkan country, whose history is seeped in decades of crises and conflicts.

Gun culture is widespread in Serbia — the region is among the top countries with the number of guns per capita in Europe.

Guns are mainly used to fire during celebrations, but the idolizing of warriors is still part of the national identity.

ns/sms (DPA, Reuters)

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