BELGRADE -- Rival groups of opponents and supporters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic faced off in front of the state television building on November 5 waiting for Vucic to enter the building to take part in an evening political talk show.
About 200 activists from the 1 in 5 Million civic initiative and the Alliance for Serbia opposition coalition blocked the main entrance of the building in a protest over what they said was government control of media.
A special police unit formed a partition to prevent violence with about 100 of Vucic’s supporters about an hour before he was scheduled for a live interview on Serbian state broadcaster RTS TV.
The protesters said they came to ask the president questions that RTS isn’t allowed to ask because it provides favorable coverage to him and his administration.
Some shouted, “Vucic, thief!”
Vucic denies that he stages media appearances and controls what’s reported on him.
Once inside the TV studio, the president posted a picture on Instagram, saying he had entered through a side entrance.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support,” he wrote.
Anti-government protesters have routinely staged rallies every Saturday in Belgrade for nearly a year to protest the rule of Vucic’s Progressive Party of Serbia, which they contend is autocratic, corrupt, and tramples on basic freedoms.
Vucic and his party have denied the accusations.
In the most recent Reporters Without Borders world press-freedom index, Serbia dropped 14 places to 90th out of 180 states when compared to the previous year.