Huge anti-government protest in Serbia after mass shootings

On May 28, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the Serbian state television building in the centre of Belgrade, demanding that autocratic President Aleksandar Vucic relieve his tight control over the mainstream media and allow alternative voices. The AP news agency reported this.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters, some of whom chanted slogans demanding Vucic’s resignation, took to the rain-soaked streets a day after the president’s supporters staged an equally large rally in the capital. Most of Vucic’s supporters travelled to the capital by bus from all over Serbia and some neighbouring countries.

Outside the headquarters of the RTS TV channel, the crowd whistled loudly, saying that according to the law, state television should be impartial as a public broadcaster, but instead, it is pro-government.

After the official end of the rally, groups of people gathered in front of the parliament and state television building, stating that they wanted to enter the buildings by force. The protest organizers blocked their entry, claiming that they were sent by the authorities to try to portray the protest as violent.

The opposition-led protests, which are taking place for the fourth time since the mass shootings in early May, appear to be developing into the largest revolt against Vucic’s authoritarian rule in more than 10 years in power.

The rallies erupted in response to two mass shootings earlier this month that left 18 people dead and 20 injured.

Other protest demands include the resignation of senior officials and the revocation of licenses from pro-government media outlets that broadcast violent material and air speeches by criminal authorities and war criminals.

Vucic stepped down from the leadership in his populist party amid plans to form a broader political movement. Vucic named his close ally Miloš Vučević, the current defence minister, as his successor.

Vucic said that a new national movement would be formed in June, which would include other parties, experts and prominent personalities to promote unity. Analysts say this is an attempt to regroup amid growing public pressure.

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