riots in belgrade 2020 photo by ema bednarz

On the 7th of July, anti-government protesters stormed National Parliament in Belgrade. The protests and violence erupted when the government presented the new plan to reimpose a lockdown following an increase in COVID-19 cases.

During the first evening of protest, more than 40 police officers and 17 protesters were injured and there were 23 arrests.

On Wednesday in his address to the nation, Vucic called on people to stop attending anti-government rallies to avoid a further spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“There are no free beds in our hospitals. We will open new hospitals,” Vucic said. He accused far-right groups and unspecified regional “intelligence officials” of orchestrating riots to “undermine Serbia’s position”.

Most of the protesters are were wearing face masks, whistling while showing anti-government slogans as they face police guarding the Parliament complex. Some threw stones and flares at police who responded with volleys of tear gas.

Protests and violence also erupted in the northern town of Novi Sad, Nis in the south, and Kragujevac in central Serbia when police clashed with anti-government protesters.

President Vucic on Wednesday said he had ultimately advised the government and health authorities not to introduce a new lockdown in Belgrade. The government has announced the new restrictive measures.

Serbia, a country of 7 million, has reported 17,076 COVID-19 cases and 341 deaths. Health authorities say hospitals are running at full capacity and staff are exhausted. The number of new infections has risen.

Critics say the government’s decisions to allow soccer matches, religious festivities, parties, and private gatherings to resume and parliamentary elections to go ahead on June 21 are to blame for the new raise of infections.

On the contrary, the government blames a lack of sanitary discipline among the public, especially in nightclubs.

Photo credits: Ema Bednarz

Belgrade night 7-8 July.