After Shootings, Protesters Demand State Media Changes

Demonstrations began in response to two mass shootings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2023 5:00 PM CDT
After Shootings, Protesters Demand State Media Changes
A woman shouts Saturday during a protest in front of the state-run TV headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia.   (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

Huge crowds of anti-government protesters on Saturday encircled the Serbian state television building in downtown Belgrade to press their demand for autocratic President Aleksandar Vucic to ease his tight grip on the mainstream media and allow alternative voices. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters, some chanting slogans urging Vucic's resignation, streamed into the rain-drenched streets a day after the president's followers staged an equally big rally in the capital. Most of his supporters were bused into the capital from all over Serbia and some neighboring states, the AP reports.

Outside the RTS TV headquarters, protesters blew whistles and booed loudly. They said that, according to the laws, that state TV should be unbiased as a public broadcaster but that it has been openly pro-government. Held for the fourth time in May, the opposition-led protests appear to be shaping up into the biggest revolt against Vucic's autocratic rule during his over 10 years in power. The rallies initially erupted in response to two back-to-back mass shootings this month that left 18 people dead and 20 wounded, many of them children from an elementary school. Other demands include the resignations of top officials and the revoking of licenses for pro-government media that air violent content and host crime figures and war criminals.

Vucic has accused the opposition of abusing the shooting tragedy for political ends. Earlier on Saturday, he stepped down from the helm of his populist party amid plans to form a wider political movement. Vucic named his close ally, Defense Minister Milos Vucevic, as his successor. In a heavy rain Saturday, the protesters walked slowly around the RTS television building in central Belgrade. Many held flowers in memory of the slain children, per the AP. "If they don't fulfill (the demands) we are not leaving from here," said Milica Tomic, a Belgrade resident. "We will be here, if it need be, every day, every week, whenever."

(More Serbia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.