Serbians converge in country’s capitol for pro-government rally following mass shootings
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Serbian capital on Friday for a massive rally in support of President Aleksandar Vučić, who is facing an unprecedented uprising against his authoritarian rule amid a crisis sparked by two mass shootings. Which stunned the nation.
The event was overshadowed by a fresh crisis in the former Serbian province of Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs clashed with Kosovo police on Friday and Vuk ordered Serbian troops to be on “highest alert”. Vucic also said he ordered the “immediate” movement of Serbian troops to the border with Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.
Responding to Vucic’s call, he called it “the biggest rally I’ve ever had.” History of Serbia“His supporters, many wearing identical T-shirts with his image on them, were bussed to Belgrade from across the Balkan country, as well as from neighboring Kosovo and Bosnia.
Employees of state firms and institutions were asked to take a day off from work and attend the rally in front of the Parliament building. Some said they were warned they could lose their jobs if they didn’t get on the buses that started arriving hours before the gathering began.
Serbian officials said the rally promotes “unity and hope” for Serbia.
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In three major anti-government protests in the capital earlier this month, protesters called for Wok’s dismissal as well as the resignation of two top security officials. They also called for the withdrawal of the broadcasting licenses of two pro-vivo television stations that promote violence and often host convicted war criminals. Statistics of other crimes.
Opposition protesters blame Wok for creating an atmosphere of hopelessness and division in the country that they say indirectly led to the May 3 and May 4 mass shootings that left 18 dead and 20 injured. , most of whom were school children who were shot dead. year school mate.
Vucic has strongly denied any responsibility for the shootings, calling opposition protest organizers “vultures” and “hyenas” who used the tragedy to try to seize power by force and without elections. want to do
They said that they are not against violence, they want my head.
Analysts believe that Vosk, who has ruled the country for more than a decade with a firm grip on power, is trying to quell opposition protests with large numbers of participants by holding the mass rally.
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“For the first time, Vok has a problem,” said political analyst Zoran Gavriloč. “The problem is not the opposition, but the Serbian society that has woken up.”
During the rally, Vočić is expected to announce that he is stepping down as head of his Serbian Progressive Party and forming “a movement” that will unite all “patriotic forces” in the country. He may also call for fresh parliamentary elections for September – which is unlikely to be accepted by the opposition in the current climate where he has complete control over all pillars of power, including the mainstream media.
Vucic, a former pro-Russian ultranationalist who now says he wants to lead the country into crisis. United Europehas alleged that “foreign intelligence services” are behind the opposition protests. He said he had received the information from spy agencies “from the East” – by which he meant Russia.
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There are widespread fears that violence could erupt during Friday’s rally, which could later be used as a pretext for a crackdown on future opposition protests, including one scheduled for Saturday in Belgrade.
Similar large rallies were held in Serbia in the early 1990s when strongman Slobodan Milosevic made fiery speeches that heralded the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and rallied the masses for the wars that followed.