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Serbian Nationalists Try To Disrupt Kosovo Culture Festival In Belgrade

Serbian police units stand in front of far-right groups during a protest against the Miredita, Dobar Dan! festival on October 22.

BELGRADE -- Serbian riot police have prevented several hundred far-right protested from disrupting the opening of an annual festival in central Belgrade that promotes Kosovo Albanian culture and ethnic tolerance.

A strong police presence on October 22 prevented the demonstrators from approaching the venue of the three-day culture festival named Miredita, Dobar Dan! -- "good day" or "hello" in Albanian and Serbian.

The protesters, led by a nationalist political group called Zavetnici, sang nationalist songs, waved Serbian flags, and shouted insults at the organizers.

Serbian police officers guard a street.
Serbian police officers guard a street.

During the opening ceremony, one protester managed to break through the cordons and reach the scene before he was taken away by police.

The festival, which is organized by liberal youth groups from Serbia and Kosovo, presents films, exhibitions, and theater plays from Kosovo.

It also features debates on the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and cooperation between the two countries' youth.

Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008 following a war in 1998-99.

The festival, founded in 2014, has been targeted by Serbian right-wing protesters in the past.