Serbia: Protesters storm parliament as riots erupt over coronavirus lockdown

Protesters gather in the streets and in front of the Serbian parliament in Belgrade, Serbia, after the president announced that a new lockdown will be imposed due to surging coronavirus cases, July 7, 2020. (Reuters).

Demonstrators’ outrage aimed at President Vucic for lifting restrictions too fast prior to elections.

Dozens of people were injured and around 20 arrested after protests against a reintroduced coronavirus curfew in Belgrade deteriorated into violence before dawn Wednesday, with running battles between demonstrators and police wreaking havoc in the Serbian capital.

Several thousand people streamed into the city center late Tuesday to protest at the return of a round-the-clock weekend curfew to combat a new surge of the virus.

The initially peaceful gathering turned to clashes as police used tear gas on protesters, some of whom had stormed into the parliament building while others threw stones and other projectiles at the officers.

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The outrage was targeted at Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who critics accuse of inviting the second wave of infections by rapidly lifting initial lockdown measures in order to hold elections on June 21, which his party won by a landslide in a vote boycotted by the main opposition.

“Our good president lifted the state of emergency because of the election, and now he wants to impose it again,” one protester told news agency AP, even though President Vucic has denied this claim.

Vucic had earlier ordered a new lockdown as the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from COVID-19.

The health situation in the Serbian capital was “alarming” and “critical,” he said, as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits, according to AP.

(i24.TV / AP)

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