Unrest in Serbia: Shootings, Corruption, and Violence Fuel Tensions
As a result of shootings, governmental corruption, and a widespread atmosphere of violence, Serbia is presently witnessing a period of extreme social upheaval. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Belgrade, the country’s capital, since the beginning of May. The number of people participating in these protests is the most since Slobodan Miloevi’s overthrow. A general outcry against violence, fear, misinformation in the media, and corruption is at the core of the protests. Notably, the demonstrators’ use of animal symbols as buttons on their apparel, including vultures and hyenas, is noteworthy. Euronews Witness went to Belgrade to look into the root reasons of the protests in an effort to comprehend the significance of these animal emblems.
Anger on the Streets
A Belgrade school shooting, which was then followed by another shooting in a village, both of which tragically claimed 18 lives, served as the initial impetus for the weekly rallies. However, the demonstrators’ fury has rapidly shifted to include President Alexandar Vui and the current administration. Student Tara, who is actively taking part in the demonstrations, prepares her sign, which reads, “We want the rule of law instead of the rule of one person.” The opposition is being accused by President Vui of taking advantage of the time of sorrow, and he has referred to the demonstrators as “vultures” and “hyenas.”
As a result, the demonstrators have adopted animal buttons to symbolize their cause. They are protesting against the pervasive corruption, crime, and institutional failure in the nation, one demonstrator tells Euronews. Their demands include the resignation of President Vui and a probe into suspected ties between organised crime and politics. Snap elections have been suggested by Vui as a remedy, although opposition parties have expressed disagreement to this notion.
A well-known opposition politician and Democratic Party legislator named Sran Milivojevi clarifies the opposition’s position. He claims that there is strong evidence connecting top government officials to organized crime. Milivojevi draws attention to criminal organizations’ involvement in elections since 2013, which has included threatening locals and seeking to buy off the Serbian Progressive Party’s rivals. A transitional administration is required to create fair circumstances for future elections since the current environment does not promote free and fair democratic elections. The European Union must acknowledge that President Vui is no longer a stabilising force in the nation, says Milivojevi.
Pro-government protesters who have apparently been hauled from various parts of Serbia and neighbouring nations have reportedly added to the chaos of the demonstrations. Despite denials from certain supporters, it has been claimed that the ruling party sponsors these counter-demonstrations. One pro-Vui supporter proudly displays a banner, claims to have paid for his own participation, and professes his love and everlasting allegiance to the president, saying that he would do anything for him.
Freedom of Press Under Attack
Despite Serbia’s expressed ambition to join the EU, talks have run into difficulties. The present Serbian administration has come under fire from the European Commission for its growing rapprochement with Russia, smear tactics against political rivals, and assaults on independent press. Eljko Bodroi, president of the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (IJAS), estimates that the administration of President Alexandar Vui directly controls about 90% of the media in Serbia. Due to the influence of pro-government media, KRIK, an independent online news outlet renowned for its investigative journalism on corruption and organized crime, faces considerable obstacles. Editor-in-Chief Stevan Dojinovi reveals that if KRIK publishes articles about organised crime or corruption, the government-run media attacks him and refers to him as a mafia member and a terrorist.
Public protests are on the rise in Serbia as a result of a number of complaints, including shootings, political corruption, an environment of violence, and misreported news. The demonstrators’ use of animal buttons as a symbol of their unanimity in opposition to these problems. Demands for accountability, transparency, and democratic changes are becoming louder as tensions continue to rise. The result of this upheaval will profoundly affect Serbia’s political environment and aspirations to join the European Union.