In Serbia, on the fourth day in a row, there were protests against the government’s decision to renew the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Authorities have condemned thousands of people for demonstrations and said there has been a dramatic increase in Covid-19 deaths and infections in the last day.
At least 70 people were detained when a group of violent demonstrators clashed with police at the parliament building and attacked reporters and other people filming at the scene.
A group of young people, chanting patriotic slogans, broke into parliament through the unprotected parade door, while police officers stationed in the building drove the intruders out and set up a cordon around a small platform in front of the building. The violent attackers then harassed police at parliament for half an hour with bottles, flares, stones and even pieces of concrete.
Serbia Prime Minister Anna Brnabic said on Friday that 18 new Covid-19 deaths, a new one-day record, and 386 new infections have been registered in the country in the last 24 hours.
She described it as a “dramatic increase” and condemned the “irresponsible” protests in Belgrade and other cities.
“There are no more irresponsible actions at the moment when it comes to demonstrations,” Brnabic said. “We will see the results of the protests in three or four days,” she added, urging people to take steps to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
President Alexander Vucich condemned the protesters, who had blocked the main road to the country’s second-largest city, Novi Sad, and called their actions “pure terrorism.”
“We are in this situation because of the irresponsibility of those who call people to be on the streets. I ask people not to protest, because they will eventually have to seek medical help,” the president said.
It has already been reported that thousands of people took to the streets of Belgrade a few hours after Vučič announced on Tuesday the intention to introduce a curfew over the weekend to curb the new outbreak of Covid-19 infection.
Although Vučič succumbed after the violent clashes and the government officially renounced the introduction of a curfew on Thursday, protests continue, despite the authorities’ decision to ban more than ten people from gathering in one place.
The government has also decided to reduce the opening hours of shops, bars and other companies in Belgrade.
Outraged protesters blame Vučič himself for causing the so-called second wave of infection, who prematurely lifted initial restrictions ahead of the June elections.
The opposition boycotted the elections, which were won by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), represented by the president, which won 188 of the 250 seats.
However, in the last two weeks, the number of newly diagnosed infections has started to rise sharply again. The number of Covid-19 deaths has also increased.