The weekend in Belgrade opened Friday with thousands upon thousands protesting how the Serb government has dealt with two mass shootings in the space of two days in early May, which have since prompted calls for the resignations of government ministers and de facto a change in government.
In fact, Serbian Minister of Education Branko Ruzic immediatley resigned following the shootings, but this has not placated much of the Serbian populace, who—along with opposition political parties—have called for the heads of the Ministry of the Interior and that of Serbian Intelligence while also demanding a cutoff to television networks that glorify “mafia” figures.
The largely spontaneous protests come as a reaction to a school shooting and drive-by on May 3 and May 4 that left 18 people dead and scores wounded.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, has held meetings that appear to be focused on the opposition, although it has also placed police in schools and instituted a remarkably successful gun amnesty program that has seen 23,000-plus weapons—including grenades and grenade launchers—turned in over only the course of a few weeks.
That said, Brnabic and President Aleksandar Vucic have also stuck to a confrontational take on the protests, with Vucic refusing to give into “the politics of the street” and Brnabic blaming the opposition for stirring up the masses in an attempt to remove both Vucic and the Serbian Progressive Party government. Brnabic has also claimed that the current instability is the work of “foreign intelligence services,” as cited by the US-backed Radio Free Europe.
Photo by DF, Serbia Monthly.