Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Bosnian Serb secessionist leader Milorad Dodik were among the speakers at the “Serbia of Hope” rally, which drew busloads of people from across Serbia and neighboring Bosnia and North Macedonia.
On May 3, a teenager killed nine students and a security guard in the first mass shooting at a school in Serbia. A day later, a 21-year-old man killed eight people outside Belgrade, sparking deep resentment and protests.
The protesters, backed by opposition parties, say the government led by Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has failed to rein in the media that promoted violence and to act against criminal elements in society.
They demanded the resignation of Vucic and some ministers, challenging the ruling elite to organize the rally to show how much support they have.
Vucic called on supporters to hold a minute of silence to pay respect to all those killed in the two mass shootings. He told his supporters that he will resign as party leader on Saturday.
“Starting tomorrow I will be the president of all the citizens of Serbia and not the president of the political party.”
At the rally, people held Serbian flags, photos of Vucic and a banner that read “With the heart for Vucic”.
“Both you and we face similar challenges and both are exposed to attacks from the international liberal current,” Szijjarto said in Serbian.
“They attack us because we want peace in Ukraine, they attack us because we believe in family values and because we refuse to be told what to do.”
“We trust and support Serbia led by Vucic. Long live Serbia, long live Republika Srpska, long live Russia”, said Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, in front of the crowd.
Traffic in Belgrade was blocked and buses were parked all over the city.
“I came here to support our president who is fighting for peace in Serbia,” said Goran Dincic, 53, who came from the southern city of Nis.
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