Major Serbian highways paralyzed by protesters

The most important highways of Serbia and its capital, Belgrade, were blocked by uncoordinated protesters on December 4. They protested against the referendum laws and expropriation.

The protesters blocked the country’s main transport route, the E-75 highway, Belgrade’s central square, Slavija, and blocked several bridges from 2 p.m. During the march, a scuffle and several verbal altercations occurred on the bridge in Novi Sad. After 4 p.m., the protesters dispersed and the highways were free, local news agency Tanjug reported.

Citizens who had not participated in the rally were forced to walk; motorists were stuck in traffic and were very unhappy about it.

The police tried to disperse the protesters, reminding them that “any blockade of car traffic is a violation of law,” and the action was not authorized, the local Interior Ministry said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that the protest had been organized and financed by foreign curators. During the protests, he was in the village of Gorne-Nedelica, near Loznica. There he spent many hours meeting with the local population.

He promised that the construction of lithium mines would not begin until after the referendum, and the expropriation law would be considered further.

“There is no pressure that would cause me to abandon the Referendum Act. It doesn’t exist. I will not, I will not let the crowds rule politics, or kill, or go to the polls,” Tanjug Agency quoted Vucic as saying after his conversations with the people.

The protests have been instigated by members of environmental groups who oppose the granting of the right to mine lithium in Serbia to the Australian-British company Rio Tinto. The deposits of the lithium containing jadarite mineral were discovered near the town of Loznica.

At the beginning of October, the head of the Serbian Interior Ministry, Aleksandar Vulin, said that the life of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was in danger because of his fight against the drug mafia. In addition, the minister said that the criminal group had leaders who were on the run, including the leader of the “Kavaca drug clan” from Montenegro, Radoje Zvicer.

In early February, Bogdan Pusic, head of the Criminal Police of Serbia, said that an assassination attempt had been planned on the Serbian president. According to the intelligence he gave, the attack was planned for the day of the unveiling of the monument to Stefan Neman, the founder of the medieval Serbian state, in Belgrade on January 27.

On January 3, Vulin spoke about the illegal wiretapping of Vucic. The minister did not specify details of the investigation, but, according to him, “the president was not wiretapped with good intentions.” In turn, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić called the illegal wiretapping of the president a coup attempt.