By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Related Press
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Hundreds of protesters in Belgrade and different Serbian cities blocked major roads and bridges Saturday to decry a deliberate lithium mine regardless of police warnings and an intimidation marketing campaign launched by authorities in opposition to the demonstrators.
Blowing whistles and chanting “Rebellion! Rebellion!” protesters stopped site visitors on the principle freeway that goes by the Serbian capital. Within the Balkan nation’s second-largest metropolis of Nis, the principle downtown avenue was blocked, as was a Danube River bridge within the northern metropolis of Novi Unhappy.
In Novi Unhappy, soccer hooligans hurled rocks and bottles on the protesters, who responded by chasing them down. One hooligan was severely overwhelmed. In Belgrade, masked males hurled flares on the protesters.
Uniformed police weren’t seen through the two-hour protests, which had been probably the most large demonstrations in opposition to the populist authorities in Serbia in a few years.
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It was the second such nationwide protest referred to as by environmental teams amid rising public discontent with the autocratic rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Final Saturday, the protesters skirmished with police and in a single city unidentified masked males attacked them with sticks and hammers.
Environmental teams have criticized Vucic’s populist authorities for not combating widespread air pollution sufficient within the Balkan nation. They’re particularly in opposition to two legal guidelines handed by parliament that they see as laying the groundwork for a lithium mining operation by Rio Tinto in western Serbia.
In an indication of defiance, Vucic on Saturday ignored the protests and traveled to the location the place the worldwide mining firm plans to start out its excavations. His workplace mentioned he wished to speak to the locals concerning the undertaking.
“Our aim is to have a civilized dialog and never beneath strain from the streets,” Vucic instructed the pro-government Pink TV, including that the police won’t intervene Saturday in opposition to the protesters.
Vucic and different Serbian officers have denounced the protests and alleged they’re financed by the West to destabilize the nation and convey the opposition to energy.
“The blockade of bridges, highways, roads and the paralysis of life in Belgrade and different cities in Serbia shouldn’t be a method to categorical any opinion, however a gross violation of the rights of most residents,” mentioned Protection Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, alleging that opposition events “wish to return to energy at any price.”
Many protesters complained that cops got here to their properties and warned them they may face authorized penalties and fines in the event that they took half within the environmental rallies. Activist Danijela Vujovic from the southern metropolis of Nis mentioned police got here to her house within the morning to warn her that the protests amounted to a “felony act.”
“I don’t see how it is a felony act,” Vujosevic instructed N1 regional tv. Vujosevic’s daughter may very well be seen holding a small banner studying “I’m public curiosity!”
The police on Saturday repeated their warning that the protests are unlawful and that the organizers should bear all eventual penalties. Additionally they issued a particular phone quantity and an electronic mail handle for anybody who wished to report “violence attributable to the blockade.”
AP author Jovana Gec contributed.
Observe all tales about air pollution and local weather change points at https://apnews.com/hub/local weather.
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