Serbia: Belgrade rocked by anti-government protests
Protesters returned to the streets as President Aleksandar Vucic ignored their calls to resign. The latest rallies come amid public anger following two deadly mass shootings.
Tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday took to the streets of Serbia's capital Belgrade, in the fifth rally in a month to protest the government and violence.
The city has seen mass demonstrations since two deadly shooting rampages last month that killed 18 people. Saturday's marches marked the one-month anniversary of Serbia's first school shooting.
Serbian media reports have shown the area in front of the parliament in Serbia, as well as the streets leading up to it, filled with protesters.
The crowd then marched through the city, with rallies also targeting President Aleksandar Vucic's official residence.
Some opposition groups and media reports have claimed that right-wing groups were trying to infiltrate the march to promote their nationalist agenda.
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What are protesters in Serbia demanding?
Protesters are demanding that the president and other top officials, including the interior minister, resign.
They shouted on Saturday slogans like "Vucic go away," and held up banners with the slogan "Serbia against violence."
Some demonstrators left hundreds of pieces of paper by the presidency, with messages written on them calling on Vucic to step down.
The opposition has accused the president of fueling intolerance and hate speech during his rule.
The protesters are also angry at the media's portrayal of violence. They have accused private television stations loyal to Vucic of whitewashing violence and mafia crime, creating what they describe as a climate that encourages violence.
TV stations have vowed to stop airing a reality show that has come under fire for violence.
How has the Serbian government responded to protests?
Vucic has denied accusations of fueling intolerance, claiming that opposition groups want him toppled by force.
"They just need to know that dead or alive, including my children, I will fight against those who support violence," Vucic told a pro-government TV station. "They will never scare me."
The president, who has been in power for more than a decade, has also said the government needs to be challenged in an election.
In the aftermath of the shootings, authorities have introduced gun-control measures, and deployed police to schools in a bid to boost a shaken sense of security.
The protests pose a challenge to Vucic while he is also faced with tensions at the country's border with Kosovo.
fb/sri (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)