site.btaTens of Thousands Protest in Serbia against Violence, Demand Government's Resignation
Tens of thousands of people gathered in central Belgrade on Friday evening for the third time this month to protest against violence and to demand the government's resignation after two mass shootings claimed 18 lives earlier this month, Belgrade media reported.
The protests were organized by opposition parties. People called for the replacement of the members of the electronic media regulator, Internal Affairs Minister Bratislav Gasic and Security Information Agency Director Aleksandar Vulin, and the closure of those media which, according to the protesters, spread hatred, violence and fear.
A new demand not heard in the earlier demonstrations was for the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic, Tanjug reported.
On May 3, a 13-year-old boy shot and killed eight school-goers and a security guard and wounded another seven people in a Belgrade school using his father's pistol. Later, a girl died of her wounds to the head. On May 4, a 20-year-old man shot randomly at people in two villages south of Belgrade, killing eight of them and wounding 14.
Djordje Pavicevic MP of an opposition movement called Do Not Let Belgrade Drown described Friday's protest as a "phenomenal expression of public discontent with developments in our country", Beta News Agency said.
The rally lasted about eight hours, with protesters blocking streets in downtown Belgrade and two bridges.
The latest opposition rallies were among the largest in Serbia since mass demonstrations brought down Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic more than two decades ago, AFP commented.
Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of President Vucic gathered for a counterprotest in Pancevo, north of Belgrade. Vucic told the crowd that elections are the only way to come to power in Serbia.
In the Serbian Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the two mass shootings were followed by attempts by foreign special services to destabilize Serbia. She stressed that there will be no change of government in Serbia without elections.