Protesters gathered late on November 9 in central Belgrade in response to the arrest of two activists who threw eggs at a mural of Ratko Mladic, a convicted war criminal who was the Bosnian Serbs' wartime commander.
Members of nongovernmental organizations joined by other citizens attempted to gather on the street where the mural is located to mark the International Day Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, but police cordoned the area off, preventing them from approaching it.
Earlier in the day Serbian police briefly detained activists Aida Corovic and Jelena Jacimovic after they threw eggs at the mural. They were held for a few hours and released.
Corovic said in a statement that the act was "completely spontaneous."
She said the officials who arrested her and Jacimovic did not identify themselves as police officers when they asked for their identification cards. The two women were placed in a police van and taken to a police station before being let go.
"We have targeted the mural of a convicted golden criminal, we will be punished symbolically, and the mural is being protected," she said.
In a statement, Serbia's Interior Ministry said the police were enforcing public order and a ban on all public gatherings related to the mural.
Mladic, 79, led Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia's 1992-95 war and was convicted by a United Nations tribunal of war crimes, including the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995.
The man dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia is serving a life sentence. His appeal of his 2017 conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes was rejected by the tribunal, based in The Hague, in June.
But many in Serbia still see Mladic as a hero of the war.
A group of about 10 right-wingers appeared at the site where the police stopped the crowd and shouted support for Mladic. The group supporting the activists responded with chants demanding that the mural come down.
Police intervened and prevented contact between the two groups, and the activists and citizens soon dispersed, according to an RFE/RL reporter.
Later in the evening a bouquet of flowers was left in front of the mural.