Home Featured Serbia cracks down on protests amid ‘election fraud’ outcry
Serbia cracks down on protests amid ‘election fraud’ outcry

Serbia cracks down on protests amid ‘election fraud’ outcry

by host

Dozens of people have been detained during mass protests in Serbia amid claims that elections earlier this month were rigged in favor of the ruling party.

Thousands gathered outside a police station in the capital, Belgrade, on Monday evening demanding the release of at least 38 demonstrators believed to have been arrested. Authorities fired tear gas into a crowd that attempted to storm the city hall the day before, while the opposition called on the West to investigate the vote.

Activists blocked traffic as part of the eighth consecutive day of protests since parliamentary and local elections on December 17, which saw the governing coalition win a majority in the national assembly.

President Aleksandar Vučić’s populist Serbian Progressive Party, which has held power since 2012, declared victory despite concerns from an international observer mission that the vote “was marred by harsh rhetoric, bias in the media, pressure on public sector employees and misuse of public resources.

Serbian independent election monitor CRTA concluded that the results of hotly contested races in the capital “fail to mirror the genuine will of the residents who cast their votes.”

In a statement, the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade, Christopher R. Hill, said that “all of Serbia’s citizens have a right to be heard and a responsibility to express their political views peacefully and without resort to violence.”

However, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko has claimed the opposition is seeking to overthrow the government “based on the experience of the Maidan” that saw Ukraine’s Moscow-backed government ousted in 2014 in protests against corruption and government brutality. He presented no evidence to support claims of outside interference, and Washington has repeatedly called for calm.

Vučić has sought to strengthen economic ties with the EU but has at the same time pursued closer political relations with the Kremlin even since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Tensions have also flared in recent months with neighboring Kosovo, amid warnings of renewed ethnic violence in the partly recognized state that Serbia maintains is its own territory.

Source link