Serbians converge in country’s capitol for pro-government rally following mass shootings

Tens of 1000’s of individuals converged on the Serbian capital on Friday for a serious rally in assist of President Aleksandar Vucic, who’s going through an unprecedented revolt towards his autocratic rule amid the disaster triggered by two mass shootings that surprised the nation.

The occasion was considerably overshadowed by a brand new disaster in Serbia’s former province of Kosovo, the place ethnic Serbs clashed with Kosovo police on Friday and Vucic ordered Serbian troops to be placed on a “higher state of alert.” Vucic additionally mentioned that he ordered an “urgent” motion of Serbian troops to the border with Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.

Answering Vucic’s name for what he known as “the most important rally in the history of Serbia,” his supporters, many carrying an identical T-shirts along with his portrait, had been bused to Belgrade from all around the Balkan nation in addition to neighboring Kosovo and Bosnia.

Those working in state companies and establishments had been informed to take a day without work from work to attend the rally in entrance of the parliament constructing. Some mentioned that they had been warned that they may lose their jobs if they do not present up on the buses which began arriving hours earlier than the gathering was to begin.

Serbian officers mentioned the rally promotes “unity and hope” for Serbia.


At three giant anti-government protests held earlier this month in the capital, demonstrators demanded Vucic’s ouster in addition to the resignation of two senior safety officers. They additionally demanded the withdrawal of broadcasting licenses for two pro-Vucic tv stations that promote violence and infrequently host convicted warfare criminals and other crime figures.

Opposition protesters blame Vucic for creating an environment of hopelessness and division in the nation that they are saying not directly led to the May 3 and May 4 mass shootings that left 18 folks lifeless and 20 wounded, a lot of them schoolchildren who had been gunned down by a 13-year-old schoolmate.

Supporters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic are seen as they stand subsequent to buses in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

Vucic has vehemently denied any accountability for the shootings, calling organizers of the opposition protests “vultures” and “hyenas” who wish to use the tragedies to attempt to come to energy by pressure and with out an election.

“They are not against violence, they want my head,” he mentioned.

Analysts imagine that by staging the mass rally, Vucic who has dominated the nation for greater than a decade with a agency grip on energy, is attempting to overshadow the opposition protests with the sheer variety of members.


“For the first time, Vucic has a problem,” mentioned political analyst Zoran Gavrilovic. “His problem is not so much the opposition, but Serbian society that has woken up.”

During the rally, Vucic is predicted to announce that he’s stepping down from the helm of his Serbian Progressive Party and forming “a movement” that can unite all “patriotic forces” in the nation. He may additionally name for a brand new parliamentary election for September — one thing unlikely to be accepted by the opposition below the present situations the place he has full management over all pillars of energy, together with the mainstream media.

Vucic, a former pro-Russia ultranationalist who now says that he needs to take the nation into the European Union, has alleged that “foreign intelligence services” are behind the opposition protests. He mentioned that he obtained the tip from “sisterly” spy companies “from the east” — thought to imply Russia.


There are widespread fears that violence may erupt throughout the rally on Friday that might then be used as a pretext for a crackdown on future opposition protests, together with one that’s scheduled in Belgrade on Saturday.

Similar large rallies had been held in Serbia in the early Nineteen Nineties when strongman Slobodan Milosevic delivered fiery speeches that heralded the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and rallied the plenty for the wars that adopted.

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