Protest ends in Belgrade, dozens injured, police regain control of city centre



BELGRADE, SERBIA - JULY 8: Riot police officers use tear gas as they intervene in protesters gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament to protest against the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) measures announced by Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, 08 July 2020. Mustafa Talha Ozturk / Anadolu Agency
Anadolu Agency via AFP

 Dozens were injured in clashes between protesters in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade and the police on Wednesday evening, and social networks posted videos in which law enforcement authorities are seen using violence against the demonstrators.

The peaceful protest started at 1800 hrs with students and other disgruntled citizens showing their anger at the announced reimposition of a curwef over the weekend due to a rise in the number of coronavirus infections in Serbia.

However, what started as peaceful protest turned violent when groups of extremists-demonstrators began hurling bottles, cans and flares at police officers that were guarding the building of Serbia's parliament.

This prompted the police to use teargas to push back the demonstrators. A video also shows that police beat with batons and kicked a protestor who was laying on the ground.

The protests were also held in Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac and in some other cities in Serbia on Wednesday evening.

After several hours of protests and clashes with the law enforcement authorities, the space around the Serbian parliament building was fully evacuated and the police regained control of the city centre at about midnight.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stevanovic labelled protest rallies as "outright violence" and an attempt to take over the rule in Serbia by force.

Among the injured persons were several journalists, actor Sergej Trifunovic who is at the helm of the Movement of Free Citizens, and Bosko Obradovic, the leader of the conservative movement "Dveri".

Two Opposition leaders -- Dragan Djilas and Vuk Jeremic -- said in their separate messages that it was the Serbian government that sent hooligans among demonstrators to make peaceful protests violent and injure opposition representatives.