Protests in Serbia: Roads and bridges blocked, with an excavator between protesters
Thousands of people have protested in recent days in Serbia by putting barricades in the major roads across the country due to air pollution, changes in the law and environmental threats. One of the main demands from protests is the withdrawal of the amendments on the two laws adopted by the Serbian Parliament on November 25th and 26th, the Law on Referendum and the Law on Expropriation respectively.
Opponents of the law believe the change goes in the interest of the private investors, though such accusations are denied by the government led by the Serbian Progressive Party of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The biggest protest was held in Sabac, but there were riots between protesters and police, as well as protesters and supporters of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
Hundreds of SNS supporters gathered in Sabac in front of the Basic Court in response to the protest and to the blocking of the bridge, where several incidents occurred. First, SNS member Dusan Prokic went to the protesters with an excavator and then a group of young masked people, attacked the protesters with sticks and hammers.
“The attackers of the Serbian Progressive Party attacked with sticks and hammers the activists and the citizens gathered in the barricade on the old bridge in Sabac. Several people were slightly injured, while an activist of the movement “Let’s not drown Belgrade” was also attacked, the movement stated on its Twitter account.
The Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS) announced on November 28th that, if the expropriation and referendum laws are not withdrawn in the coming days, it will be forced to radicalize roadblocks.
SEOS said in a statement that the roadblocks on November 27 showed that people have the will and strength to oppose the “shameful reform of the Constitution tailored to multinational companies” that would be deemed to destroy the land, water, air and biodiversity, generally in Serbia and abroad ”.
“SEOS blockades in Valeva, Prelina, Rakal and Pesko passed without incident, but with the arrest and interrogation of several people. Many others were prevented to join the protest,” the statement said.
Also in Loznica, in western Serbia, several hundred citizens protested on November 29th against a plan to build a lithium mine owned by the Rio Tinto company near that town.