Fourth night of violence outside Serbian parliament as protests against rule of Vucic grow

During a fourth night of violent protests against Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic's increasingly authoritarian rule, police fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who tried to storm parliament on Friday.

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.

Police attempted to used their shields to push back the protesters and prevent them from entering the building, but after repeated attacks they resorted to tear gas to disperse the crowd.

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

Some opposition leaders have said the violence was the work 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 against the virus. But, they have mushroomed into an expression of wider frustration with his hard-line rule.

Vucic has denied that “hooligans,” who were seen beating up the peaceful protesters earlier this week, are under his control, claiming they were brought in by the opposition. On Friday evening, he told pro-government Pink TV that all those who were attacking the “brave" policemen will be arrested.


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