Protests In Serbia Against President Vucic Enter 14th Straight Weekend

Thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on March 9 for the 14th straight weekend to demonstrate against President Aleksandar Vucic.

The protests began back on December 8. Demonstrators are demanding that Vucic end his control over state media and are calling for fair elections.

On March 9, protesters blocked the entrance to the head quarters of Serbian state broadcaster RTS for one hour, the German dpa news agency reported.

One of the speakers addressing the crowd was Branislav Lecic, an actor and politician who was one of the leaders of Serbia’s first massive pro-democracy protests on March 9, 1991.

The demonstrations were triggered when a gang of thugs beat up opposition politician Borko Stefanovic in November.

The movement has since adopted the slogan “one of 5 million,” in a jab at Vucic, who said after the early rallies that he would not bow to a single demand “even if there were 5 million of you.”

So far, the organizers have not lined up behind any opposition group.

But the protests have been backed by the largest opposition bloc, the Alliance for Change, a broad coalition grouping more than 20 parties and movements.

Thousands rally in Belgrade against Serbian president

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Thousands marched through Belgrade’s frozen city center on Saturday to protest against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and demand media freedoms and end to attacks against journalists and opposition figures.

Protesters blew whistles, waved banners that read “Stop the Treason, Defend the Constitution and Back the People”, and chanted “Vucic, thief!” in the fifth such protest in as many weeks.

The protests, which have also been staged in the town of Kragujevac, were triggered by an incident in November in which opposition politician Borko Stefanovic was beaten by unknown assailants in the town of Krusevac.


Backers of the Alliance for Serbia, a grouping of 30 opposition parties and organizations, say Vucic is an autocrat and his party is corrupt, something its leaders vehemently deny.

The demonstrators demanded more coverage of opposition groups by the public broadcaster and assurances of thorough investigations of attacks on journalists and opposition politicians.

Vucic had earlier said he would not bow to opposition demands for electoral reform and increased media freedom “even if there were 5 million people in the street”, but suggested he was willing to test his party’s popularity in a snap vote.

Opposition groups have said they would boycott any election.

According to an October poll by the Belgrade-based CESID election watchdog, the SNS alone has 53.3 percent support, far ahead of other parties.

If the opposition parties ran as an alliance, they could count on around 15 percent of the vote, according to the survey. However, there is little sign so far of such an agreement between parties united by little apart from their animosity towards Vucic and his party.

The SNS-led ruling coalition has a comfortable 160 of parliament’s 250 seats. The next national vote is due in 2020.

Thousands protest against Serbian president

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbians protested against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party in downtown Belgrade on Saturday.


Thousands of people chanted “Vucic thief” as they marched peacefully through the city center in the fourth such protest in as many weeks. They demanded media freedoms, an end to attacks on journalists and opposition politicians.

Backers of the Alliance for Serbia, an opposition grouping of 30 parties and organizations, say Vucic is an autocrat and his party is corrupt, something its leaders vehemently deny.

Serbia: Thousands rally against President Aleksander Vucic

Thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade for the third consecutive week to protest against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic.

More than 5,000 people marched towards the Serbian state broadcaster RTS on Saturday – widely seen as supportive of Vucic – before moving to the government headquarters.

The protests, which first began in response to the beating an opposition politician, Borko Stefanovic, during a rally in a southern city, have escalated, and now include calls for greater accountability and more freedom of speech.

Stefanovic was approached by a group of young men in hoodies who smashed his head and briefly knocked him unconscious.

Al Jazeera’s Marko Subotic, reporting from Belgrade, said the number of protesters on Saturday exceeded those seen in previous weeks.

“This was the largest protest of citizens because they are not organised by any political party but was actually organised by some public figures and student organisations, albeit backed by opposition parties in Serbia,” Subotic said.

“They will return next Saturday to tell President Vucic, who has been in power for six years, they don’t agree with the current situation in Serbia, especially that there is no freedom of speech and opposition leaders can’t be heard on national television, including Serbia’s public service.”

Vucic mocked the first rally in Belgrade, saying it was small and that “even if there were five million” he would not cede to their demands.

The second protest was held under #1od5miliona (one of five million).

Although Serbia is nominally a democratic society with political opposition and free elections, Vucic’s firm grip on power has made it difficult for opponents to make their voices heard or answer verbal outbursts against them.

Vucic has publicly condemned the attack on Stefanovic and police swiftly arrested the assailants, but opponents like Dragan Djilas say he has fostered an “atmosphere of violence” that made such an attack possible.

His Progressive Party has dominated parliament in the three parliamentary elections since 2012. Vucic started a five-year term as president last year.

The Serbian opposition, aweakened by internal strife, corruption scandals and low exposure on state and pro-government media since Vucic took over, has been fully marginalised.

Thousands march against President Vucic in Serbia

Thousands of Serbians took to the streets of the capital Belgrade on Saturday to voice their opposition to the creeping authoritarianism of President Aleksandar Vucic and his administration. Braving the bitter cold and snow, the crowds blew whistles and horns, echoing demonstrations against former strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

“Vucic, thief!” protestors, including Belgrade’s mayor, Dragan Djilas, chanted.

Vucic is a former hardline nationalist who has said he now wishes to reform Serbia and steer it towards membership in the European Union. But last week, when a similar protest marked Serbia’s first major show of defiance since Vucic’s 2017 election, the president declared that he would not meet opposition calls for fair elections and uncensored media “even if there were five million people in the street.”

In response, many of Saturday’s protestors wore buttons declaring themselves, “1 of 5 million.”

The European Union recently issued a report saying that if Serbia hopes to join the bloc, it must first “improve the situation regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”

Last week’s protests prompted thugs to beat up an opposition politician, part of what Vucic’s opponents say is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation brought about by the country’s ruling populist coalition.

es/bw (AFP, AP)

Serbia’s CarGo expands despite pressure from taxi lobby

CarGo, Serbia’s answer to the well-known ride-hailing taxi app Uber, has added 20 new Toyota hybrid cars to its fleet in the first part of a two-round investment process that will see the firm add a further 30 hybrid cars by the end of this year.

The Serbian start-up, founded in 2015, said that it has decided to fight for its right to do business by stepping up investments, “despite pressure from certain lobby groups and attempts to shut us down.”

Last month, the Serbian parliament adopted changes to the passenger transport law under pressure from taxi associations, who repeatedly blocked traffic in central Belgrade earlier this year in protest against CarGo.

Under the changes, alternative passenger transportation businesses, including innovative digital services such as CarGo, are banned from operating on the market.

However, backed by the largest eight IT organisations in Serbia, CarGo has continued operating despite the legislative changes. The organisations, the Niš Cluster of Advanced Technologies (NiCAT), the IT Cluster Subotica, ICT Network, the Vojvodina ICT Cluster, the ICT Cluster Central Serbia, the Digital Serbia Initiative, the Zrenjanin ICT Cluster and SEE ICT, urged parliament not to pass the changes and called for talks involving the IT sector to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Serbia’s ‘Non-Transparent’ Critical Infrastructure Bill Criticised

The Novi Sad-based SHARE Foundation NGO warned that the Serbian authorities are pushing through the country’s first Law on Critical Infrastructure without a period of public discussion or a clear definition of what exactly is meant by critical infrastructure.

“It seems like Serbia is pushing this law only to mark one more thing as finished when it comes to harmonising legislature with the EU, but without real intention to do something concrete,” Andrej Petrovski from the SHARE Foundation, an NGO dedicated to protecting people’s digital rights, told BIRN.

As examples of critical infrastructure, he listed mines, Serbia’s public telecommunication company Telekom and the Ministry of Health’s IT system, among others.

“This is first time this kind of a law is on the agenda, so the authorities didn’t have any previous legislature on this. And without public discussions it turned out to be a more general act, which gives too much space to ministries to decide what is critical infrastructure,” Petrovski added.

The draft Law on Critical Infrastructure says that it is intended to monitor and protect systems, networks and facilities whose disruption could have “serious consequences for national security, human health and lives, property, the environment, citizens’ safety, economic stability, or endanger the functioning of the Republic of Serbia”.

The vital sectors named in the draft are energy, transportation, water and food supply, healthcare, finance, telecommunications and information technology, environmental protection, and the functioning of state bodies.

Based on proposals from ministries, the government will determines what critical infrastructure is.

“The ministries in charge of the critical infrastructure sectors are obliged within six months of the adoption of the act… to send to the [Interior] Ministry proposals for their sector,” the draft says.

It envisages that every operator of a piece of critical infrastructure will have its own liaison officer who will communicate with the Interior Ministry and monitor the infrastructure.

It says the reasons for expediting the adoption of the legislation and not having the usual public discussion period are frequent natural disasters, technological accidents and accidents caused by human error.

“There was no need to hold a public hearing as all relevant entities were already involved in the drafting of the law,” the document says.

But SHARE argued that the process of passing such a law must be transparent, with the public debate, as critical infrastructure is connected with national security, health and human life, property, environment, security and economic stability.

“The disadvantage of such a [non-transparent] procedure is that in Serbia, the Law on Critical Infrastructure is being adopted for the first time, while the text of the law does not clearly define what critical infrastructure is, but leaves the ministries in charge of various sectors to define this concept,” SHARE warned.

PM at School of Electrical Engineering’s Innovation Center

The Innovation Center of the School of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade (ICEF) is an excellent example of knowledge that exists in Serbia.


This is according to Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, who toured the center on Thursday, and added that it is necessary to achieve greater connectivity between science and economy.

Brnabic, together with Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development Mladen Sarcevic visited this center, where projects for the therapy of children with autism, for rehabilitation of patients from stroke and projects that will improve the safety of drivers in traffic were presented to them.

Brnabic pointed out that this center shows in practice the connection between science and economy, as it cooperates with numerous companies, such as Siemens and Mercedes, for which it is developing numerous solutions.

The Prime Minister noted that the government will see how it could support such centers and projects, and announced the visit to such centers across Serbia to determine how much money they need for promotion of science.
Sarcevic said that the Innovation Center in one place represents quality education, science and technological development.

He particularly expressed gratitude for the project that will help in the treatment of children with autism, pointing out that scientists can always address the Ministry for similar projects.

One of the projects implemented at the Innovation Centre is a wireless sensory system that analyses people’s movements and automatically detects disturbances and falls. This system enables the analysis of the effects of rehabilitation of patients after stroke, monitoring progression of Parkinson’s disease, and more.

A module for identifying vital signs and the presence of people that can be applied in the automotive industry and transport is presented to the guests.

The third project presented today is aimed at the treatment of children with autism, which provides improvement of motor skills and spatial coordination of children with autism.

The Innovation Center of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering was founded in 2006 as a faculty company with the aim of developing innovations in the fields of electrical engineering and computing, as well as linking science and economy.

ICEF, through its projects, enables cooperation between doctoral students, researchers, professors, experienced engineers, domestic and foreign economics.