Supporters of arrested protesters facing coup charges gathered to demand their release, days before a decision in their case.
The group gathered in front of Belgrade’s Palace of Justice, demanding the release of their fellow far-right activists. The detained group is facing coup charges.
Dejan Zlatanovic, Damnjan Knezevic, and other far-right activists were behind the first protest on Wednesday, during which they demanded “Stop Vucic’s Betrayal of Kosovo.”
The group accused Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of betraying the former province of Kosovo, cherished by nationalists as the “cradle” of the Serbian state.
Police found a rifle in one of the protester’s cars at the scene of the Wednesday protest. The coup charges carry a sentence of six months to eight years, and the High Public Prosecutor’s office is set to decide on their case.
Supporters claim the charges are just part of a regime war on dissenters, adding that the rifle found by police was a hunting rifle. The idea that it was meant to be used to assassinate the President is ridiculous, the protesters say.
Wednesday’s protest was held in front of the Serbian Presidency on Serbia’s Statehood Day, and was organised by People’s Patrols in protest against the “Franco-German deal” on Kosovo. The proposed deal has led to widespread controversy in Serbia, although only a few hundred people were present at the rally.
A number of participants at Wednesday’s rally broke through the protective fence in front of the Presidency. They managed to reach as far as the staircase, with the purported intention of submitting their requests to the President directly. The group shouted “Where is Vucic?” and “Treason! Betrayal!” while throwing eggs at the build.
Police broke up the demonstration, and the protesters were removed from the staircase. Those in the fenced area were permitted to remain.
Police said they arrested five individuals linked with extreme right-wing organisations behind the protest. They said the three leaders were arrested “on suspicion that they committed the crime of calling for a violent change in the constitutional order.”
Ahead of the protest, police announced that they had arrested Dejan Bobocek, 36, leader of one branch of People’s Patrols, along with the Security Intelligence Service (BIA).
People’s Patrols is a far-right organisation known for carrying out violent attacks on migrants, and also for its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Police allegedly found a rifle with several pieces of ammunition in Bobocek’s car. It is thought that Bobocek planned to join the protest in Belgrade.
Image via Wikimedia