BELGRADE, Serbia — Thousands of protesters tried to storm the parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday after the Serbian president announced that a coronavirus lockdown will be reintroduced in the Balkan country.
Police fired several rounds of tear gas at the protesters, some chanting “Resignation! Resignation!” as they gathered in front of the parliament building in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Some of the protesters briefly managed to enter the parliament by force, but were pushed back by riot police.
The protesters responded by hurling flares, stones, bottles and eggs at the police, a number of police vehicles were set on fire.
Protesters also clashed with police in front of the state TV building. The broadcaster is accused by the opposition of having a pro-government bias.
Serbian police director Vladimir Rebic told the state television that a number of demonstrators have been detained and police officers injured, but did not specify how many. He said smaller protests were also held in other Serbian cities.
“I appeal to the citizens … to help ease the tensions,” Rebic said. “I’m certain police will respond adequately and prevent any form of hooligan behavior.”
Earlier, President Aleksandar Vucic called the virus situation in Belgrade “alarming” and “critical” as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits after health officials reported highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Vucic said the government would reimpose a curfew as of Friday. He said it will “probably” last from 6 p.m. on Friday till 5 a.m. on Monday. He also said the groups of no more than five people will be allowed together.
Many blame the autocratic Serbian president for lifting the previous lockdown measures just so he would cement his grip on power after parliamentary elections. He has denied those claims.
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