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Inaugural Gay-Pride Event Comes To Serbia's Second City
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NOVI SAD, Serbia -- Several hundred people have gathered in the center of Novi Sad for what has been described as the northern Serbian city's first gay-pride rally.

The event, organized by the local nongovernmental group Exit with the support of City Hall, was held on Republic Square on May 17, which marks the official International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

Speaking at the rally, Deputy Mayor Ljiljana Kokovicalso described the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Serbia as the country's most vulnerable social group, saying that they are exposed to violence and discrimination.

Novi Sad is Serbia’s second-largest city and the capital of the northern Vojvodina Province.

Activists say anti-LGBT prejudice remains a widespread problem in Serbia.

Organizers of the Novi Sad rally have said that raising awareness of the LGBT rights situation and increasing the visibility of the local LGBT community were among the goals of the event.

The organizers said that they had not received threats ahead of the gathering, whose security was bolstered by an increased police presence.

Gay parades have been held every year in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, since 2014 without serious incident but safeguarded by hundreds of police officers. Previous gay-pride marches were marred by violence.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the first openly gay prime minister in the Balkan region and the first Serbian woman in the top job, was among the participants in the 2017 and 2018 marches.

Kazakh sinologist Konstantin Syroyezhkin (file photo)

NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakhstan’s authorities have arrested a leading sinologist in the country, Konstantin Syroyezhkin, on charges of high treason.

The Committee of National Security said on May 17 that the 62-year-old expert had been arrested in February.

It did not give any details on the case.

The committee's statement comes after weeks of unconfirmed media reports saying that Syroyezhkin had been arrested for alleged espionage.

Syroyezhkin, a native of the southeastern Kazakh city of Almaty, has worked as an expert and analyst at the presidential Institute for Strategic Research since 2006.

He is the author of more than 1,000 analytical and research works on China and Kazakh-Chinese relations, written in Russian, Chinese, and English.

Questions about Syroyezhkin’s whereabouts started circulating in the media after he failed to show up at two conferences in Kazakhstan that he was scheduled to attend.

The head of Kazakhstan’s Bureau for Human Rights, Yevgeny Zhovtis, told RFE/RL at the time that the researcher might have been arrested.

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