25,000 protesters on the streets of Belgrade

Last night, over 25,000 protesters gathered in the streets of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. During the fourth protest of last two months, protesters repeated their demands for the resignation of the senior Belgrade officials who are being accused of indifference towards the “illegal demolition” of several buildings on the night of April 25.

Belgrade (en.wikipedia.org)

Belgrade (en.wikipedia.org)

The protest started at the Assembly of the City of Belgrade, and ended in front of the building of the Interior Ministry of Serbia.

Protesters who gathered under the slogan, “Let’s not drown Belgrade”, are accusing city officials of indifference and inaction toward an unsolved case of “illegal demolition” of a few buildings on Hercegovačka Street that occurred 2 months ago. Gathered protesters demanded the resignations of  the Mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, the Speaker of Belgrade City Assembly, Nikola Nikodijević, and Interior minister, Nebojša Stefanović. Holding signs like “Quest for a just state” and “Savamala is not a joke”, protesters firmly stated that they place the blame on the city officials as well as on the police for nocturnal illegal demolitions.

Although over 50 citizens were gathered in counter-protest, there were no violent clashes.

Illegal demolitions in Savamala, Belgrade

On the night of April 24, over 30 masked men armed with baseball bats and heavy machinery demolished three buildings in the Savamala quarter of Belgrade. Many concerned citizens called the police, warning them of the masked men, but police never reacted. A security guard employed in one of the demolished buildings was captured and tied up by the masked men in order to prevent him from interfering with the demolitions.

The three demolished buildings were in a part of the city called Savamala, which is a location intended to host Serbia’s biggest infrastructural project called “Belgrade on water”. Many of the buildings are intended to be demolished to make room for the “Belgrade on water” project. City officials denied their involvement in the illegal demolition, but the Prime Minister of Serbia blamed city authorities specifically, condemning the demolition and calling it “lunacy”.

Since the demolitions in Savamala, there have been no arrests by the police.

Dejan Scepanovic

based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. BA in political science. Columnist.