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Thousands march against Vucic in Serbia

December 16, 2018

Demonstrators blew whistles and horns in a nod to protests against former autocrat leader Slobodan Milosevic. President Vucic has rejected calls for fairer elections and free media.

Protestors in Belgrade
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Drobnjakovic

Thousands of Serbians took to the streets of the capital Belgrade on Saturday to voice their opposition to the creeping authoritarianism of President Aleksandar Vucic and his administration. Braving the bitter cold and snow, the crowds blew whistles and horns, echoing demonstrations against former strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

"Vucic, thief!" protestors, including Belgrade's mayor, Dragan Djilas, chanted.

Vucic is a former hardline nationalist who has said he now wishes to reform Serbia and steer it towards membership in the European Union. But last week, when a similar protest marked Serbia's first major show of defiance since Vucic's 2017 election, the president declared that he would not meet opposition calls for fair elections and uncensored media "even if there were five million people in the street."

In response, many of Saturday's protestors wore buttons declaring themselves, "1 of 5 million."

The European Union recently issued a report saying that if Serbia hopes to join the bloc, it must first "improve the situation regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the media."

Last week's protests prompted thugs to beat up an opposition politician, part of what Vucic's opponents say is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation brought about by the country's ruling populist coalition.

es/bw (AFP, AP)

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