Serbian police arrest 71 in coronavirus protests – The Guardian

Serbian police have detained 71 people after clashes during a fourth night of anti-government protests that were initially sparked by the announcement of a new coronavirus lockdown, a senior police official has said.

Fourteen police officers were injured when hundreds of demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building in downtown Belgrade on Friday evening, the police director, Vladimir Rebić, said. Several reporters were also hurt.

Protesters defying a ban on gatherings because of the pandemic, threw bottles, rocks and flares at police who were guarding the parliament building, and police responded with teargas to disperse them.

Similar clashes broke out twice earlier this week. The protests began when the populist president, Aleksandar Vučić, announced a strict curfew for this weekend to curb a surge in new coronavirus cases.


Serbian protesters clash with police over government handling of coronavirus – video report

Vučić later scrapped the curfew and authorities instead banned gatherings of more than 10 people in Belgrade, the capital, and shortened the working hours of indoor businesses.

Many in Serbia have accused the increasingly authoritarian Vučić and his government of allowing the crisis to get out of control by holding a paralimentary election on 21 June that tightened the ruling party’s grip on power.

Vučić has denied this, although authorities had relaxed the rules before the vote, allowing large crowds at soccer games, weddings and other events.

On Friday, the Serbian prime minister announced the highest daily number of deaths, 18, since the start of the pandemic in the Balkan country. Authorities reported 12 new deaths on Saturday and 354 new infections.

The country has had more than 18,000 confirmed infections and 382 deaths since March and health authorities have said hospitals are almost full due to the latest rise in cases.

Vučić has claimed the involvement of unspecified foreign security services in the unrest and said he will not be toppled in the streets. Some opposition leaders, meanwhile, are blaming the rioting on groups they say are controlled by the government and sent out to discredit peaceful protests.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiXmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnRoZWd1YXJkaWFuLmNvbS93b3JsZC8yMDIwL2p1bC8xMS9zZXJiaWFuLXBvbGljZS1hcnJlc3QtNzEtaW4tY29yb25hdmlydXMtcHJvdGVzdHPSAV5odHRwczovL2FtcC50aGVndWFyZGlhbi5jb20vd29ybGQvMjAyMC9qdWwvMTEvc2VyYmlhbi1wb2xpY2UtYXJyZXN0LTcxLWluLWNvcm9uYXZpcnVzLXByb3Rlc3Rz?oc=5

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