Belgrade and protests: A small political debate in the rain of the “Serbia against violence” protest” – BBC News in Serbian


Two groups of about twenty rather wet people, covered in raincoats and umbrellas, are standing in front of one of the entrances to Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS).

The fourth protest “Serbia against violence” is largely over, but they are still there.

One group, mostly young people, chants to break into RTS, while people from the protest organization, dressed in fluorescent markers, stand at the entrance and prevent it with their bodies.

It is peaceful, although the outlines of tension can be felt at times, as the day slowly fades, the night takes over, and the rain continues to fall relentlessly.

And then, right between the two groups – a spontaneous political debate.

“I will never be in a party, I am an ordinary man,” says a young man in his twenties, wearing a black hoodie and carrying a backpack.

A few moments earlier, he repeated that “there is no change without violence”, that the building of the public service should be stormed, asking “what is everyone really here for, if it is not going to happen”.

Demonstrators first gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament building, where many left flowers in memory of the victims of the mass murders on the territory of Belgrade in early May.

Several tens of thousands of people filled the streets of central Belgrade during the protest, forming a “ring” around the RTS building.

“And what am I, an unusual man – I’m a shipbuilding engineer, I’m not here to be a politician,” the warden answered him with a question.

“But you are in a party,” continues the guy.

“And what do you think makes me bad?”

“Because it’s politics… Politics is a bad thing,” concluded the young man.

Serbia and protests: Flowers, umbrellas and whistles – “Serbia against violence”
The British Broadcasting Corporation

In the next few minutes, the two, followed by television cameras, talked about topics that can be subsumed under some rather complicated concepts, such as political participation, and they also touched on democracy and elections.

And everything remained calm in the end.

“The guy is quite young and I understand his attitude, anger and aggression – he is frustrated, the policy towards young people practically does not exist, many are on the margins,” 45-year-old Ivan Kolarik, a security guard from that debate, an activist of the movement, told the BBC in Serbian. We will not give Belgrade”.

“I just saw in his eyes that he is a good boy, that he is just lost and that he has nowhere to articulate that frustration in the right way, although his energy is precious.

“I can be his father, but if we look into each other’s eyes – we are all human.”

A 2022 survey by the Umbrella Organization of the Youth of Serbia (KOMS) shows that young people in Serbia they don’t believe in political institutions and politics, while they give politicians such grades that in school they would all have to take remedial classes.

Almost half of the young respondents did not vote in the last elections, held in April 2022, according to the survey.

They didn’t have anyone to vote for, they think that all politicians are the same or they don’t believe that elections can change anything – these are the main reasons why young people who decided to spend election day far from the polling station, according to the research.

“Politics doesn’t have to be anything bad, it doesn’t have to be evil,” Kolarik believes.

“On a daily basis, we make 50 political decisions – they are just different types of politics.”

What are the participants of the “Serbia of Hope” rally hoping for?
The British Broadcasting Corporation

One of the results that particularly worried the authors of the research is the increasing justification for violence in everyday life.

“It’s easiest to fight each other, so I trained in kickboxing, but violence is not the solution – I have two children and I teach them that, what would happen if I came home and I hurt someone before that or someone hurt me,” says Kolarik .

“The settlement as a model is not good for any society and can never produce anything positive and high quality.

“We all have to be aware that we are all one big family and that we all have to build this country together to make it a decent and beautiful place to live.”

However, he adds, changes first of all take time.

“When you plant a tree, it takes 20 years to grow, and you can cut it in 20 seconds with a chainsaw… Democracy is a process, it is learned and requires a lot of energy, work, understanding, patience.

“Everyone mentions October 5, but it was a consequence of the September 24 election.”

On September 24, the former president of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević, lost the presidential election to Vojislav Koštunica, the candidate of the united opposition, but he refused to recognize the victory, so a general strike began throughout Serbia.

He was overthrown in the October 5 revolution.

“The mistake was that most people then thought ‘ah, that’s it, democracy has arrived’.

“No, we did not continue to work on it with dedication, quality, to change society and that is why we are where we are today.

“But in order to change society, we have to change ourselves to some extent, become aware of our own weaknesses and flaws.”

“Serbia against violence” protest: Tens of thousands of demonstrators blocked bridges and demanded the resignation of the president
The British Broadcasting Corporation

About the protests

The “Serbia against violence” protests were organized after two mass murders on the territory of Belgrade in which 18 people, mostly children and young people, were killed.

Demonstrators demand the responsibility of the authorities for, as they say, the long-term creation of an environment that led to an increase in violence in the country.

They demand the dismissal of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Bratislava Gašić, the head of the Security and Information Agency, Aleksandar Vulin, and the acceptance of the resignation of the Minister of Education, Branko Ružić.

Also, it is requested to replace the management of RTS, all members of the Council of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media REM, the immediate cancellation of reality programs and shows that promote immorality and violence on television with national frequencies, the banning of print media that promote violence, aggression and they violate the journalistic code.

It is also demanded that the national frequency of Pink and Hepi televisions be revoked due to, they say, violation of the law and the promotion of violence, aggression and immorality.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and the government respond that Serbia “needs unity more than ever”, as well as that the opposition is “politically abusing the tragedy” and that it is they who propagate violence against political dissenters.

Their “Serbia of Hope” rally was held on Friday in the city center, when Vučić announced his resignation from the leadership of his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

Miloš Vucevic, current Minister of Defense, he then became the new leader of the progressives.

The new protest “Serbia against violence” will be held on June 2, the organizers announced.

“Serbia against violence” protest: Blockade of the bridge and lighting of lights for “healing society”
The British Broadcasting Corporation

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