Demonstrators blocked roads and bridges across Serbia on November 27 to protest against new laws they contend favor business.
Police were out in force, especially in the capital Belgrade, where protesters, blowing whistles and chanting “We won’t give up Serbia,” managed to block traffic at several locations.
Huge columns of cars and other vehicles formed at several locations as the demonstrators allowed only emergency services to pass.
Similar actions were organized in several other cities across Serbia, including Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sabac, and Kragujevac.
Several demonstrators were arrested during the protests in Novi Sad and Zrenjanin in northern Serbia.
Environmental groups and civil society organizations object to the authorities' recent moves to lower the referendum threshold and allow for the swift expropriation of private property if it's deemed to be in the public interest.
Activists argue this will pave the way for foreign companies to circumvent popular discontent over projects such as the bid by the Rio Tinto company to launch a lithium mine in western Serbia.
Serbia’s authorities have rejected the accusations, saying the new laws are needed because of infrastructure projects. President Aleksandar Vucic said a referendum will be organized on the Rio Tinto mine.
Experts have warned that the planned lithium mine in western Serbia would destroy farmland and pollute the waters.
Rio Tinto has said that it will respect all Serbian laws and denied its project could endanger the environment.
Following decades of neglect, Serbia has faced major environmental problems such as air and water pollution, poor waste management and other issues.