Protesters have demanded that President Aleksandar Vucic pull out of negotiations with Kosovo. Vucic called the protesters “anti-Serbian” and said they were funded by a foreign country.
Hundreds of Serbian nationalists on Wednesday demonstrated against a Western plan to normalize ties with breakaway Kosovo.
Protesters demanded that President Aleksandar Vucic pull out of negotiations with Kosovo.
What happened during the protest?
Protesters blocked traffic as they gathered near the Serbian presidency in central Belgrade.
Serbia’s N1 broadcaster reported that protesters pushed through a metal fence at the presidency building and began to walk towards the building yelling “where is Vucic?” and “treason, treason” and throwing eggs at it.
Protest slogans on banners and in chants included “treason” and “no surrender.”
There was also a pro-Moscow sentiment evident, with one banner reading: “Betrayal of Kosovo is betrayal of Russia!”
“You (government) are fearing riots. I swear to you, we are ready for more than that,” Damjan Knezevic of the ultranationalist People’s Patrol said. Knezevic has admitted to having ties to Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.
Protesters went on to gather outside of a Belgrade police station to demand the release of those who had allegedly been detained in the protests, according to N1.
Vucic accused protesters of receiving money and support from “a foreign country” in an interview for Serbia’s Pink broadcaster.
“I don’t know whether they’re pro-Russian, but I know that they’re anti-Serbian,” Vucic said of the protesters.
“I don’t need Wagner to tap me on the shoulder and tell me what I can and can’t do,” he said.
Serbia has not heeded Western calls to formally impose sanctions on Moscow, but has condemned the invasion of Ukraine in multiple UN votes. On Friday, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that Belgrade’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign and defense policies is a “condition above all conditions” for joining the bloc.
What is the Western plan for Kosovo?
The demonstrations come amid Western efforts to resolve the status of Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade considers Kosovo to be part of its own territory.
Vucic has said he was ready to consider the Western plan, which reportedly stipulates that Serbia would not object to Kosovo’s membership in international institutions.
Nationalist groups in Serbia demand the government end negotiations over Kosovo and publish the plan. Vucic has argued this would spell the end of Serbia’s integration into the European Union.
sdi/rt (AP, Reuters)