Serbia: 10 Reasons Why People are Protesting

To give you a guide to why the protesters are on the streets, in their words, and the general situation in Serbia.

1. Life really isn’t that good for most people (population around 7 million) in Serbia, the stated salary of 400 Euros is a dream for most, with many earning just 200 Euros a month. These young protestere here in Belgrade speak about working for ‘5 Euros a shift’ –

2. Alexander Vucic, Prime Minister since 2014, (though actually running the show since 2012, as leader of the largest party – SNS) may have officially taken 55% of the vote in recent presidential elections, but few believe that was the real result, with mass denouncing of the election as ‘rigged’. 

3. While presenting the appearance of being pro-Russian, to appease a generally pro-Russian Serbian populace, Vucic is actually taking Serbia closer towards the EU (which many Serbians in general support), the US, and NATO (which almost all Serbians are strongly opposed to, due to NATO bombings of Serbia (then Yugoslavia) in 1999).

4. Many feel that Vucic is authoritarian, and in a position where he now controls everything in Serbia, including the state media, giving plub jobs to his inner circle etc, while many in the country struggle. Interviews with protesters here:

5. Driving the protests on is indignance by protesters, who feel they are being ignored, by wider media, but particularly by their own Serbian, state-controlled media. Often the most heated parts of the (peaceful) protests are when the march passes the national newspaper, and television news, offices. This video here, from April 12th, outside state tv channel, RTS –

6. Back to the economy, and things are not going well in Serbia. Debt to GDP has risen from 41.8% in 2010, to 73.4% in 2015.  Serbia’s national debt is estimated at over 29 billion dollars now, rising fast.

7. Rather than addressing the problems of the country, protesters accuse of Vucic of covering them up, ie declaring the national average monthly salary had ‘passed 400 Euros‘, when that patently wasn’t the case, or whitewashing them – in the case of engaging a PR firm to rewrite his wikipedia page. 

8. More, there are allegations that Vucic himself, is corrupt – he and his family own seven properties in Belgrade, worth over 1 million Euros, and recently sold an eighth.  Yet Vucic reports himself as having only one property, a studio flat, and an income of only 1000 Euros a month.

9. All of this has contributed to a malaise, where many in Serbia feel there is little hope for them, or their lives. Unemployment is high, almost 20%, youth unemployment extremely high, 44.2% with many young people feeling there are little prospects for them in Serbia:

10. While the protests are peaceful, which they currently are, with few police even along, and while there is no prospect of them escalating to seizing administrative buildings, violence etc, as per Euromaidan, no one is stopping the protests, Vucic himself, meanwhile, has sought to defuse the protests by making out he actually ‘supports’ them – read about that here. And, in cases strong, personal dislike for Vucic himself, would also have to be another factor –

Make sure you are following me on Twitter, and YouTube, for full coverage! This, yesterday:

10 thoughts on “Serbia: 10 Reasons Why People are Protesting”

  1. Number 11 – Not enough rows of armed police blocking the protesters.
    Number 12 – Not enough police violence chasing them away or dragging them off to clink.
    Number 13 – Not enough police to round up the organisers beforehand to prevent the event happening in the first place.
    Number 14 – Not even enough of anything to enable a fourteenth thing to go here.
    Meanwhile, in London, where there are hundreds of billionaires (for whom even a £million is small change), 1,000,000 or more workers are having to choose between enough heating or enough eating. And consequently don’t have the time or energy to stroll en masse around Westminster, if it wasn’t illegal anyway.
    Now back to discussing the impoverished people living in that regime….

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  2. Have to agree with Dobbb on this. While average salaries in the UK are clearly much higher than EUR200 per month, cost of living is such that many people on average salary in the UK can not afford to rent self-contained accommodation and have some money left for food and bills. About 15 years ago salaries in the Ukraine were as low as $100 per month which sounds terrible yet back then a huge plot of land (in a big city not some remote village) for building a house could be bought for just $400 (just think about it – four months of work (while supported by parents) and you own your own nice land that you are allowed to build on!!!), food was also very cheap. I would argue situation in the UK is actually much more terrible than in Belgrade as at least some of the youngsters there can take advantage of the globalisation and the Internet and earn their dream salary of, say, EUR500 per month through internet freelancing. In the UK it is simply not an option as UK salaries are sky high by world standards and you can’t beat them through internet freelancing and the like… yet you can’t live on them comfortably in the UK. Also it looks like protesting is a lot more dangerous in the UK due to extreme policing of protests.

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    1. To put eukrainian’s in perspective, I don’t think the uk has quite reached the level of Pol Pot yet. I have myself been on many marches and protests in uk and never encountered police violence (or preventing of events). The main violence appears to have been in a context of (a) so-called “anti-fascist” “anti-racist” (in reality themselves fascist and racist) people attending so-called “far-right” events in order to deliberately cause violence which they they pretend originated with the “far-right” people; and (b) “anarchist” anti-capitalism provocateurs attacking or setting fire to corporate premises, to which the police then predictably respond with force.

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  3. Hi, I never participated in any protests in the UK (or elsewhere), however I visited a number of protests in the UK. By visiting I mean: attendance limited to minutes or tens of minutes, was not shouting anything, was not carrying any banners or any other propaganda, not expressing my approval or disapproval for the cause, in fact was not talking to anyone at all – just looking around. My observation is that UK policing of protests is very aggressive, I would say even violent. In particular I witnessed how at protest against the Iraqi war an old man had his arm grabbed by a policemen with both hands. The policemen then twisted it in opposite directions. The old man was clearly in pain yet he was not beaten up so poor resolution camera footage (and that was more than 10 years ago when cameras were not so common and not so good) would not show any wrongdoing. I was also present at the protest on the day (though not at the time) when the newspaper seller was killed by the police in the city. On that occasion I witnessed a lot of police brutality, a number of people were assaulted. Now I realize it was not clever for me to visit that area at the time as I could even found myself “kettled” by the police. It was not just by decision but also an element of luck that allowed me to limit my presence to about 15 minutes. If I were unlucky I would have found myself imprisoned (through kettling) by the police for hours just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. (I did not wear suit and tie but was dressed like an office worker – unlike almost everyone else. There was not a sign of any aggression towards me from the protesters I can add.) I also visited some animal rights protests and while during my very short visits I did not visit physical violence the events were also very heavily policed and I would describe police’s behavior as aggressive. The videos from Belgrade are a huge contrast to what I saw in the UK as the police is not seen at all. It seems like it could be an event of choice for a large slice of student population as there is no kettling/ herding / abuse by the police element.

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    1. Further reply to eukrainian – I attended ALL the anti-Iraq-war (and Afgh war) marches in London, and at no point observed even the slightest hostility let alone violence from police. Likewise with an anti-nato march in Newport in 2014/5/6 (I forget year) – when the police even gave out free water, and when I tried to challenge some pro-Ukrops the police very gently intervened to suggest I keep a distance. Later at end of that march, I and others chatted with some pro-Ukrops during which one of them insisted that the swastika and ss wolfangel were not there as pro-nazi symbols but instead to represent peace – I even think he believed his nonsense!

      I also participated in THREE “reclaim the streets” events causing major roads to be closed for hours – none of those sorts of events ever had any police violence even though they were certainly illegal (obstruction of highway). (In one such the police moved me out of the way with extreme skill of gentleness.) One actually closed down a motorway!

      As for animal rights, these protesters tend to be extremely extreme emotional and inclined to violence (and other law-breaking) so inevitably there ends up violent police response As for that thing in London where the man died, that was one of those anti-capitalism things (I mentioned) where a minority of “protesters” are intent on causing damage and rioting in the centres of capitalism and so inevitably the police consider themselves to be acting as a sort of defensive army.

      Generally speaking very few people in uk consider the police to be enemies rather than friends. But the situation is far from very good just as it is far from very bad. Unfortunately the new pm May is very authoritarian minded obsessed with “hate crimes” (in reality anyone who deviates from the globalist corporatist “true” news agenda). These idiots assume that the solution to all problems is to ban more and punish more.

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