Several thousand people gathered on January 12 for the sixth time to demand the resignation of Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, who they claim is becoming increasingly autocratic.
The first rally was held in Belgrade on December 8, 2018, and was sparked by the attack on opposition politician Borko Stefanovic in the southern city of Krusevac.
Some opposition politicians, who have accused Vucic of being an autocratic leader, believe that Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) was involved in the incident, which was denied by the party.
“This is our land, not for the thieves, the scammers, those who steal and take,” Branislav Trifunovic, an actor and one of the protest’s organisers, said, addressing the crowd.
He added that protesters demand that the authorities find out who killed Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic.
Ivanovic was assassinated in January 2018 in a drive-by shooting in North Mitrovica, Kosovo. Balkan Insight reported that Cvetkovic, during a February press conference, showed photos of individuals allegedly involved in the murder and claimed that the assassination cost €40,000.
During the first rally protestors said they wanted the authorities to stop attacking their political rivals, and the police to find out who ordered the attack. Their demands were extended later to include more media space for opposition groups and thorough investigations of attacks on journalists and opposition members.
Protests were also held in several other cities across Serbia, in Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis and Pozega.
“We are five million” was the main slogan of the sixth protest – the same as in several previous protests. It was inspired by Vucic’s statement following the first protest that he will not fulfil a single demand from the opposition even if five million people go out on the streets.
“We are more and we shall become more and win. We shall win those who are calling people traitors [who are] paid by foreigners, scum, drug addicts. We do not talk to them, we have brooms for them,” Trifunovic said.
Meanwhile, the president has indicated that he might call yet another early general election in spring 2019.
Although Vucic’s SNS has been the largest party in the Serbian parliament for years, Vucic has repeatedly resorted to snap elections to strengthen his position.
Another protest is scheduled for January 16. Meanwhile, local media reported that Vucic is staging a gathering to welcome Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who is due to visit Belgrade on January 14.