Police pelted with rocks by protesters and return fire with teargas in Serbia

Police were pelted with rocks before returning fire with teargas as injured lockdown protesters were seen lying in the streets in the 3rd night of violent protests in Serbia. 

Demonstrators – who were defying a ban on mass gatherings amid a spike in virus infections – threw bottles, rocks and flares at the police guarding the domed parliament building in central Belgrade and removed the metal fences in front of it. Smoke rose above the entry stairway. 

Police first used their shields to rebel the protesters and prevent them from entering the building. But after repeated attacks, they fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and then wound up in running battles with demonstrators.

Several everyone was arrested, and many reporters were injured, mainly in attacks by the demonstrators. 

A officer fire a tear gas canister all through clashes with protesters close to the National Assembly building in Belgrade today, at a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

A priest helps an injured man during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia today

A priest helps an injured man throughout the protest contrary to the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia today

Demonstrators at an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Demonstrators at an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19), away from parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today 

Protesters clash with riot police on the steps of the Serbian parliament during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia tonight. Hundreds of demonstrators tried to storm Serbia's parliament on Friday, clashing with police who fired tear gas during the fourth night of protests against the president's increasingly authoritarian rule

Protesters clash with riot police on the steps of the Serbian parliament during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia tonight. Hundreds of demonstrators tried to storm Serbia’s parliament on Friday, clashing with police who fired tear gas throughout the fourth nights protests contrary to the president’s increasingly authoritarian rule

Plainclothes police briefly detain a demonstrator during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Plainclothes police briefly detain a demonstrator during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Thousands of demonstrators gather near The National Assembly to stage an anti-government protest in Belgrade, Serbia today

Thousands of demonstrators gather near The National Assembly to stage an anti-government protest in Belgrade, Serbia today

Some opposition leaders have said the violence was the job of far-right nationalist demonstrators controlled by the government – with an aim to discredit the peaceful protests that began in response to President Aleksandar Vucic’s efforts to reimpose lockdown restrictions contrary to the virus. But, they have mushroomed into a manifestation of wider frustration with his hard-line rule. 

Vucic has denied that ‘hooligans,’ who were seen beating up the peaceful protesters early in the day this week, are under his get a grip on, claiming they certainly were brought in by the opposition. On Friday evening, he told pro-government Pink TV that those who were attacking the ‘brave’ policemen will be arrested.

‘The masks have fallen,’ Vucic said, describing the protesters as a mix of tycoons and bullies ‘who wish to take over power.’ 

Serbia’s president has blamed protesters for spreading herpes. Vucic brought in one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in March in order to combat the virus, before prematurely declaring victory in May and lifting almost all restrictions – just in time for the election.

He won the June 21 vote by a landslide while continuing to insist that the virus was under control, before quickly reversing his stance and announcing that lockdown would have to be reimposed – sparking riots.

Vucic has now backtracked on the master plan to reintroduce lockdown, but anger over his handling of the crisis and allegations he covered up virus data during the election continues, with protesters fighting running battles with police in the administrative centre Belgrade.

The protests, which have now been roaring for three days, have united individuals from both the left-wing and far-right in anger at Vucic, and saw activists try to storm their state assembly building on Wednesday. 

Earlier today, police in riot gear and mounted units deployed across the parliament building to prevent Vucic’s opponents from storming it. Protesters, who pelted police with rocks and flares, chanted ‘We will not quit Kosovo’ and ‘Vucic thief.’ 

Over the previous two evenings, rock-throwing demonstrators fought running battles with special police forces, who used tear gas, armored vehicles and horses to disperse them. Both protests started peacefully before far-right nationalist groups started hurling objects at police. 

In Paris, Vucic accused his political opponents of orchestrating the protests and said that if they continue it will be difficult to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

‘The problem is which they (the protests) became violent, because they (opponents) … they don’t have anything to provide to the folks.’

In Belgrade, one protester was stabbed in the leg, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

A police officer clashes with protesters near the National Assembly building in Belgrade today, during a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

A police officer clashes with protesters near the National Assembly building in Belgrade today, within a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Protesters clash with riot police on the steps of the Serbian parliament during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia today

Protesters clash with riot police on the steps of the Serbian parliament within a protest in Belgrade, Serbia today

Police stand in tear gas smoke outside the National Assembly building in Belgrade today, during clashes with protesters at a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Police stand in tear gas smoke away from National Assembly building in Belgrade today, during clashes with protesters at a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Police stand around a burning flare outside the National Assembly building in Belgrade today, during clashes with protesters at a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Police stand around a burning flare away from National Assembly building in Belgrade today, during clashes with protesters at a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Police runs towards protesters outside the National Assembly building in Belgrade, on July 10, 2020, during clashes at a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections

Police runs towards protesters away from National Assembly building in Belgrade, on July 10, 2020, all through clashes at a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections 

This week’s demonstrations were initially driven by frustration over economically stifling measures to contain the pandemic, but soon evolved in to anti-government rallies with participants demanding Vucic’s resignation.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced on Friday that ‘hospitals are packed with sick’ and said protests posed a significant health risk.

Critics say the government’s decisions to allow soccer matches, religious festivities, parties and private gatherings to resume in May and parliamentary elections to proceed on June 21 are to blame for the brand new surge in infections.

Vucic dismissed those claims and dismissed protests as ‘senseless.’ ‘You can not seize power using force,’ that he said. 

Riot police stand in formation as demonstrators gather during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Riot police stand in formation as demonstrators gather all through an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19), away from parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

People gather for an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia this afternoon

People gather for an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia this afternoon

Protesters throw projectiles at police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020

Protesters throw projectiles at police throughout the protest contrary to the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020

Police officers block the entrance to Serbia's National Assembly building in Belgrade tonight, after clashes broke out during a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

Police officers block the entrance to Serbia’s National Assembly building in Belgrade tonight, after clashes broke out within a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

Protestors face off with police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade,  Serbia, tonight. Thousands have gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament in Belgrade to protest the new measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease

Protestors face off with police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade,  Serbia, tonight. Thousands have gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament in Belgrade to protest the new measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease

Serbia, a country of seven million, has so far reported 17,728 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 370 deaths.

Serbia could be the first country in Europe to have held elections considering that the pandemic was declared. Several opposition parties boycotted the vote to protest Vucic’s control of the media, which they said did not provide them with enough coverage. Vucic rejected those claims. 

Serbian authorities have banned gatherings of more than 10 people in the capital, Belgrade, after two nights of violent clashes between police and a large number of demonstrators protesting coronavirus lockdown measures  

Thousands of people defied the ban yesterday to stage a sit down protest in front of Parliament, along with other peaceful gatherings in towns elsewhere in Serbia. 

Police officers block the entrance to Serbia's National Assembly building in Belgrade today, after clashes broke out during a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

Police officers block the entrance to Serbia’s National Assembly building in Belgrade today, after clashes broke out within a demonstration against a week-end curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

Protestors throw projectiles at police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia today

Protestors throw projectiles at police throughout the protest contrary to the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia today

A protestor lights up a flare during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020. Thousands have gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament in Belgrade to protest the new measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease

A protestor lights up a flare during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020. Thousands have gathered in front of the Serbian Parliament in Belgrade to protest the brand new measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, that causes the COVID-19 disease

Protestors face off with police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020

Protestors face off with police during the protest against the strict measures to fight the coronavirus in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 July 2020

Many protesters wore white T-shirts with the inscription, ‘Sit Down, Don’t Be Set Up’ – talking about widespread claims that the violence the last nights was staged by hooligan groups close to the authorities to smear the opposition groups’ image.

‘This is how a protest should look like, without their mad dogs present,’ said one of the main opposition leaders, Dragan Djilas.

Despite no police intervention, there were a few skirmishes between peaceful protesters and the far-right groups, but no clashes such as the violence of the previous two nights. 

Serbia’s government crisis team said the restrictions imposed Thursday were intended to avoid the virus’ further spread following two nights of clashes, during which few people wore face masks.

In addition to limiting gatherings, businesses in closed spaces, such as cafes, shopping malls or shops, were ordered to work shorter hours.  

The clashes followed an announcement from President Aleksandar Vucic that further lockdown measures were likely as the outbreak in the united states was spiraling out of control, specially in Belgrade, where 80 percent of new cases were recorded. At least 17,342 cases and 352 deaths have been recorded throughout Serbia.    

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement Thursday it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the violence.

‘We condemn all violence, including what seemed to us to be coordinated attacks on police seemingly intended to provoke overreactions, in addition to what seemed to the use of extortionate force by police,’ it said.

Thousands of demonstrators gather to stage an anti-government protest in Nis, Serbia, July 10, 2020. Demonstrations, which started on Tuesday in the capital Belgrade in order to protest new measures announced in the struggle against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, continued today

Thousands of demonstrators gather to stage an anti-government protest in Nis, Serbia, July 10, 2020. Demonstrations, which started on Tuesday in the administrative centre Belgrade in order to protest new measures announced in the struggle contrary to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, continued today

Riot police form a line on the steps of the Serbian parliament as protesters try to storm the building in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, July 10, 2020. Hundreds of mostly far right supporters on Friday tried to storm the national parliament in Belgrade, targeting the police for the fourth night of protests against the Serbian president and his rule amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the Balkan country

Riot police form a line on the steps of the Serbian parliament as protesters try to storm the building in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, July 10, 2020. Hundreds of mostly far right supporters on Friday tried to storm the national parliament in Belgrade, targeting the police for the fourth night of protests against the Serbian president and his rule amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the Balkan country

Demonstrators clash with riot police during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Demonstrators clash with riot police all through an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19), away from parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia today

Riot police stand in formation as demonstrators gather during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, today

Riot police stand in formation as demonstrators gather during an anti-government protest amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, today

‘The health system in Belgrade is close to splitting up,’ Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said. ‘That is why I can not understand what we saw yesterday and the night time before.’

Dozens of men and women were injured in both days of clashes in Belgrade and other cities.

Serbia’s police chief, Vladimir Rebic, said 118 police officers were injured and 153 protesters were jailed.

‘Such violence will be inadmissible and police uses all way to stop this,’ Rebic said in a statement.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International, however, held responsible the police with regard to applying ‘heavy-handed measures’ contrary to the demonstrators.

‘Images regarding Serbian law enforcement firing split gas and stun grenades indiscriminately to the crowd, and of protesters and bystanders being charged by mounted law enforcement and crushed by law enforcement in huge range gear, increase serious worries,’ Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher Jelena Sesar mentioned in an argument.

Thousands of demonstrators gather to stage an anti-government protest in Nis, Serbia, July 10, 2020. Demonstrations, which started on Tuesday in the capital Belgrade in order to protest new measures announced in the struggle against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, continued today

Thousands regarding demonstrators accumulate to phase an anti-government protest in Nis, Serbia, July 10, 2020. Demonstrations, which began on Tuesday in the administrative centre Belgrade in order to demonstration new actions announced in the battle against the book coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, continuing today

Videos upon social media seemed to show law enforcement severely conquering up protesters. In 1, a dire was noticed being struck and expelled by a number of officers and dumped around the sidewalk, relatively unconscious. The authenticity from the videos could hardly be separately verified.

Under evident pressure from your protesters, the particular Serbian chief executive backtracked Wednesday on his want to implement the weekend curfew, claiming the particular measure could hardly be performed without saying an across the country state regarding emergency.

In a great Instagram write-up on Thursday – in the plane using him with an official stop by at France – Vucic said the state will curb unrest, and urged his followers not to confront violent demonstrators.

‘I promised that we will know how to preserve peace and stability despite criminal hooligan violent attacks that have shocked us all,’ he said.

Vucic has accused foreign intelligence services of being behind the unrest. He has described the protests as ‘political’ and aimed at weakening Serbia in its talks with Kosovo, a former province whose 2008 declaration of independence Belgrade does not recognize.

Although Vucic stopped short of identifying the alleged foreign spy agencies, tabloids under his control accused pro-Russia far–right groups of fueling the violence. The Russian ambassador to Serbia on Thursday vehemently denied accusations that Moscow was at the rear of the particular unrest.’

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