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In Serbia, large-scale demonstrations against the government

Since December 8, thousands of Serbs march every Saturday in Belgrade to denounce the violence of the regime of President Aleksandar Vucic.

These "citizen demonstrations" gained prominence on Saturday, December 29, with 25,000 people on the streets.

Borko Stefanovic, leader of the Serbian Left Party, was attacked in the southern city of Krusevac on 23 November. He was beaten with an iron bar as he was going to a political meeting, and he escaped with minor injuries.

The following day, the Alliance for Serbia opposition bloc, a motley coalition of 30 parties including the Left Party, called for protests in the capital, Belgrade, to denounce the authoritarian drift of the ruling power.

Mass media and civil society

Since the first parade of December 8, it is the tough politics of President Aleksandar Vucic who is at the center of the demonstrations. Although he is a former member of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, Aleksandar Vucic was elected president on 31 May 2017 under the colors of the Serbian Progressive Party, a centrist and pro-European formation. Previously, he had been prime minister from 2014 to 2017.

Belgrade-Pristina: always fresh relations

According to the opposition, the Serbian government is at the origin of political violence, but also of the muzzling of the media and civil society. Last example of this stranglehold: the recent acquisition of two of the five national television channels, via an operator, Kopernikus, led by a close to the regime. In the same way, radio stations and news sites were bought by members of Aleksandar Vucic's entourage.

In its latest report on Serbia, published in October, the European Parliament further specifies that the Serbian authorities were "Strongly encouraged" at "To improve the situation concerning freedom of expression and freedom of the press" in the country, official candidate since 2012 for EU membership.

Usually rare manifestations

On Saturday, 29 December, nearly 25,000 demonstrators gathered in Belgrade. This is more than at previous gatherings, which each time had around 10,000 people. At the head of the procession, a banner bearing the inscription "Stop the bloody shirts", a formula that has become the movement's slogan in reference to the government's violence towards the opposition.

Many protesters used whistles and horns, symbols of the great protests of the 1990s against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The latest protest of the protesters: the holding of elections "Free and transparent Well before the end of Aleksandar Vucic's term. This one ends normally in 2022.

This movement represents the first significant wave of protests against Aleksandar Vucic since the spring of 2017. At that time, thousands of young Belgians took to the streets in response to his electoral victory.

The president denies any involvement on his part or that of his party in the attack on Borko Stefanovic, which triggered the commotion. Visibly impassive about the magnitude of the movement, he said that "Even if five million people (out of seven million Serbs, Ed) went down the street He would not accede to their requests.

Anouk Helft

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