Thousands of protesters storm parliament building in Belgrade

Thousands of protesters fight with police and storm parliament building in Belgrade after Serbian president announced reintroduction of lockdown measures amid rise in Covid-19 death toll

  • Thousands of protesters stormed the Serbian parliament in Belgrade in fury at reintroduction of lockdown 
  • Some of the protesters briefly managed to enter the parliament by force, but were pushed back by riot police 
  • The government will reimpose a curfew as of Friday evening and it is expected to last until Monday morning

Thousands of protesters fought running battles tried to storm the parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday after the Serbian president announced that a coronavirus lockdown will be reintroduced amid a rise in death toll.

Police fired several rounds of tear gas at the protesters, some chanting ‘Resignation! Resignation!’ as they gathered in front of the downtown parliament building in 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. Several clashes erupted between some of the most extremist rioters apparently belonging to far-right groups and the baton-wielding police.

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. A number of police vehicles were set on fire.

The country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that 13 people had died in 24 hours in Serbia and 299 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed.

That brought the total to 16,719 confirmed cases and 330 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in Serbia, which went from having one of Europe´s strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May. The government will reimpose a curfew as of Friday evening and it is expected to last until Monday morning.

Demonstrators gather in front of the Serbian parliament building during a protest against a lockdown planned for Belgrade from this weekend

Demonstrators light a flare as they gather during a protest at the Serbian parliament building against a lockdown planned for the capital this weekend to halt the spread of the coronavirus

Police officers use pepper spray on demonstrators in front of the Serbian parliament in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday

Thousands of protesters angry at the return of a weekend coronavirus curfew gather in front of the National Assembly building in Belgrade

The government will reimpose a curfew as of Friday evening and it is expected to last until Monday morning. The decision has prompted fury

Protesters scuffle with police in front of the National Assembly building in Belgrade, on July 7, as Serbian police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators angry at the return of a weekend coronavirus curfew

Serbian police officers disperse protesters in front of Serbian parliament building in Belgrade. The country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that 13 people had died in 24 hours in Serbia and 299 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed

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

Protesters clash with security forces during a protest against restrictions imposed to stem spread of coronavirus in Belgrade

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic denounced the protest, saying the state will protect law and order and accused opposition politicians of being behind the storming of parliament

A demonstrator gestures in front of security forces during a protest against a lockdown planned for Belgrade from this weekend

An injured demonstrator receives aid as he lies on the stairs of the Serbian parliament building, during a protest against a lockdown

Serbia went from having one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May. Football and tennis matches were played in packed stands and a parliamentary election was held on June 21

The Serbian president angrily rejected widespread criticism that his insisting on holding an election led to the lifting of the earlier lockdown and the recent coronavirus case spike

Protesters run from tear gas in front of Serbian parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday evening as police try to disperse thousands

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 6pm on Friday till 5am 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.

Serbia went from having one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May.

Football and tennis matches were played in packed stands and a parliamentary election was held on June 21 despite warnings from experts that the mass gatherings without social distancing could lead to a new coronavirus wave.

Serbia went from having one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May

Many blame the autocratic Serbian president for lifting the previous lockdown measures just so he would cement his grip on power after parliamentary elections

President Aleksandar Vucic called the virus situation in Belgrade ‘alarming’ and ‘critical’ as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits

Thousands of people protested the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference in Belgrade defending his actions over the virus

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic denounced the protest and insisted that the state will protect law and order 

Protesters gather in front of the Serbian parliament in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Thousands of people protested the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus Tuesday. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

Serbian police officers guard the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday as thousands of protesters descend on it

‘We have probably relaxed too much. Everyone thought it was all over,’ Mr Vucic said, angrily rejecting widespread criticism that his insisting on holding the election led to the lifting of the earlier lockdown and the recent coronavirus case spike.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic denounced the protest, saying the state will protect law and order and accused opposition politicians of being behind the storming of parliament.

‘I strongly condemn the vandalism of politicians who are behind the violent break into the Serbian Parliament at the moment when the state and the health system face the toughest blow from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic,’ Brnabic said.

On Tuesday, Montenegro introduced a compulsory quarantine for all people arriving from neighbouring Serbia, citing coronaviorus health risks.

Greece also banned Serb tourists from entering the country on Monday.

Serbian police officers clash with protesters in front of the Serbian parliament in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday evening

Thousands of people protested the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus

Protesters run from tear gas in front of Serbian parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday after clashes with police

Serbian police officers guard Serbian parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Thousands of people protested the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced

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