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Serbian Antigovernment Demonstrators Take Protest To City Hall, Pink TV

Protesters rally in central Belgrade against the Serbian government on April 6.

Antigovernment protests were held in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, for the 18th week in a row, with the latest demonstration marked by a minute of silence to honor victims of the 1941 World War II bombing of the capital.

Protesters gathered on April 6 in front of the main government building, then marched toward the city hall, where they erected barricades from material collected from construction sites in the city center.

Serbs have been taking to the streets of Belgrade and elsewhere in protest against what they say is President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule and demanding press freedom and fair elections.

Vucic has said he is not intimidated by the antigovernment protesters and repeatedly described their leaders as "fascists, hooligans, and thieves."

"I'm their target as I seek Serbia's political consolidation and economic development," he said after a previous protest.

"There will be no more violence," Vucic said. "Serbia is a democratic country, a country of law and order and Serbia will know how to respond."

In the latest demonstration, opposition leaders went to TV Pink headquarters, which many critics see as a key pro-government media outlet.

Protest leaders laid a wreath at the station in the memory of slain Kosovar Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic, who was shot dead in January 2018 as he arrived at his party office in Mitrovica, a town bitterly divided between Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs.

After Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008, Ivanovic became known as a relative moderate in favor of dialogue and compromise with Kosovar Albanians and one of the chief interlocutors for international organizations seeking to bring stability and the rule of law.

Before Ivanovic was slain, TV Pink broadcast programs that critics said unfairly portrayed Ivanovic in a negative manner.

That followed a protest on March 16, when dozens of demonstrators led by far-right opposition politician Bosko Obradovic broke into the headquarters of state broadcaster RTS demanding to be allowed on the air to address the nation.

Their demand was not met, and they were eventually driven out of the building by police, with at least 18 people being arrested.

The protesters have been a diverse group, with many pressing individual demands, and include leaders from the Alliance for Serbia, a loose grouping of about 30 parties and movements.

Protest participants have over the past two years been made up of people from all sides of the political spectrum – liberals, right-wingers, pro-West, pro-Russia, and pro-Europe supporters.

Protest organizers have resisted attempts by some far-right opposition politicians to take control of the demonstrations.

With reporting by BalkanInsight and AFP