Protesters block roads in Serbia to criticize mining plans

Dec 4, 2021, 7:18 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 11:51 am
A protester with a dog walks on the highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. 4,...

A protester with a dog walks on the highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Thousands of protesters have gathered in Belgrade and other Serbian towns and villages to block roads and bridges despite police warnings and an intimidation campaign launched by authorities against the participants. t was the second such nationwide protest called by environmental groups amid growing public discontent with the autocratic rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Thousands of protesters in Belgrade and other Serbian towns blocked main roads and bridges Saturday to decry a planned lithium mine despite police warnings and an intimidation campaign launched by authorities against the demonstrators.

Blowing whistles and chanting “Uprising! Uprising!” protesters stopped traffic on the main highway that goes through the Serbian capital. In the Balkan nation’s second-largest city of Nis, the main downtown street was blocked, as was a Danube River bridge in the northern city of Novi Sad.

In Novi Sad, soccer hooligans hurled rocks and bottles at the protesters, who responded by chasing them down. One hooligan was severely beaten. In Belgrade, masked men hurled flares at the protesters.

Uniformed police were not visible during the two-hour protests, which were the most massive demonstrations against the populist government in Serbia in many years.

It was the second such nationwide protest called by environmental groups amid growing public discontent with the autocratic rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Last Saturday, the protesters skirmished with police and in one town unidentified masked men attacked them with sticks and hammers.

Environmental groups have criticized Vucic’s populist government for not combating widespread pollution enough in the Balkan nation. They are especially against two laws passed by parliament that they see as laying the groundwork for a lithium mining operation by Rio Tinto in western Serbia.

In a sign of defiance, Vucic on Saturday ignored the protests and traveled to the site where the international mining company plans to start its excavations. His office said he wanted to talk to the locals about the project.

“Our goal is to have a civilized conversation and not under pressure from the streets,” Vucic told the pro-government Pink TV, adding that the police will not intervene Saturday against the protesters.

Vucic and other Serbian officials have denounced the protests and alleged they are financed by the West to destabilize the country and bring the opposition to power.

“The blockade of bridges, highways, roads and the paralysis of life in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia is not a way to express any opinion, but a gross violation of the rights of most citizens,” said Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, alleging that opposition parties “want to return to power at any cost.”

Many protesters complained that police officers came to their homes and warned them they could face legal consequences and fines if they took part in the environmental rallies. Activist Danijela Vujovic from the southern city of Nis said police came to her home in the morning to warn her that the protests amounted to a “criminal act.”

“I don’t see how this is a criminal act,” Vujosevic told N1 regional television. Vujosevic’s daughter could be seen holding a small banner reading “I am public interest!”

The police on Saturday repeated their warning that the protests are illegal and that the organizers will have to bear all eventual consequences. They also issued a special telephone number and an email address for anyone who wanted to report “violence caused by the blockade.”

___

AP writer Jovana Gec contributed.

___

Follow all stories about pollution and climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre speaks during the Leadership For...
Associated Press

As US mourns shootings, NRA in turmoil but influence remains

HOUSTON (AP) — For a brief moment in 2012, it seemed like a national stalemate over guns was breaking. Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old gunman, had forced his way into a Connecticut elementary school and massacred 26 people, mostly children, with an AR-15-style rifle. Flags flew at half-staff. A sporting goods chain suspended sales of similar […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: May 28, Dionne quintuplets are born

Today in History Today is Saturday, May 28, the 148th day of 2022. There are 217 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On May 28, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, made up of freed Blacks, left Boston to fight for the Union in the Civil War. On this date: In […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Russia and China block UN statement on Myanmar crisis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — China and Russia blocked the U.N. Security Council from issuing a statement Friday expressing concern at the violence and serious humanitarian situation in Myanmar and the “limited progress” on implementing a regional plan to restore peace to the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation, diplomats said Friday evening. The council was briefed virtually […]
22 hours ago
Travelers queue up at the south security checkpoint in the main terminal of Denver International Ai...
Associated Press

Prepare for sticker shock if you are traveling this summer

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines and tourist destinations are expecting monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fear of contracting COVID-19 during travel. Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even exceed levels in the good-old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands fewer employees than they did […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake; Tony Monalto, president of Stand with Parkland. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Murphy; Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.; Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark.; Ronnie Garza, […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Officials: Ex-Alaska attorney general faces abuse charges

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A special prosecutor said Friday that he has filed charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree against former Alaska Attorney General Clyde “Ed” Sniffen. Gregg Olson said the charges were filed Friday but he did not yet have a stamped copy of the documents or a case […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Protesters block roads in Serbia to criticize mining plans