According to the agencies, the protests were held under the slogan “against violence”, but some protesters expressed general dissatisfaction with the government and President Aleksandar Vučić.
In Serbia, in early May, a 13-year-old boy shot dead nine of his classmates and a security guard at an elementary school, and a day later, a 21-year-old man shot and killed eight people near Belgrade.
According to the Deutsche Welle website, Interior Minister Bratislav Gašić, whose resignation is being demanded by the protesters, also confirmed media reports that a man released from a medical institution fired an anti-tank missile at an empty house on Thursday.
The father of the child shooter from Belgrade was charged. He taught his son how to handle weapons
Both mass shootings prompted part of society to protest. Opposition parties accuse the government of not sufficiently suppressing criminal elements in Serbian society and not taking action against television stations broadcasting violent content.
In addition to Gašić, the protesters also called for the resignation of the head of the intelligence service, and some even for the resignation of President Vučić.
“I came to protest against the way of life in this country, against the violence that is visible everywhere, in public speeches, in the media. I’m protesting against the evil we live in and the way the country is run,” one of the demonstrators, who said she was a university professor, told Reuters.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabičová rejected the government’s responsibility for mass shootings, and instead accused the opposition of inciting violence and threatening the president. According to her, the protests are “purely political”.
“You are the backbone of violence in this society. You are spreading hatred,” Brnabičová told the opposition, according to the AP agency.
The prime minister also said that “everything that happened in Serbia after the shootings” was directly the work of foreign secret services and that only elections, not people in the streets, can change the way the government works.
Meanwhile, Serbian President Vučić’s nationalist right-wing party organized its own protest outside the capital, with several thousand participants, expressing disapproval of the protests in Belgrade, AP reports.
Vučić calls another assembly for next week. In his statements, the President identifies himself with Prime Minister Brnabičová and says that someone from abroad is organizing the protests. However, he also hinted that the government could resign and Serbs could go to early elections.
The government responded to the mass shootings by declaring a month-long gun amnesty, during which owners can surrender illegally held weapons without penalty. Vučić called for the “complete disarmament of Serbia” and tougher penalties for illegal possession of weapons.
Serbia already has very strict gun laws, but it, like other Western Balkan states, has been inundated with hundreds of thousands of illegally held weapons after the wars of the 1990s, Reuters reports.
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