Serbia’s activist: Year-long moratorium on lithium is pushing it under the rug


Savo Manojlovic, the director of the 'Go-Change' campaign, tells N1 he will not accept a moratorium on digging lithium and boron for a year and that he did not want to be an opposition leader but would vote for them if the April elections are held.

„It’s their (the authorities'“) attempt to bridge the situation and push the matter under the rug so that Rio Tinto or some other mining company returns to the back door after the vote,“ Manojlovic told N1 on Friday.

Speaking of the ‘Go-Change’ plans, he said that „the first option is to obstruct the vote, including roadblocks and other tactics. The second option is active participation in the campaign and insistence on that topic. Still, we demand the issue be resolved before the elections. The Government can urgently change the law, i.e., a single article that would ban the digging of lithium and boron and give science a chance to find environmentally sustainable ways and to overcome this crisis.“

Serbia is due to hold presidential, early general and Belgarde elections on April 3.

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Asked whether the decision to obstruct the elections could harm the opposition, Manojlovic said that it would certainly not happen and that they would assess what steps to take.

„We will not do that if other environmental organisations and the opposition do not accept it. We have a lot of ideas, and we will come up with tactics at the right time,“ he says.

He added that „if we talk about whether it is legal – it is not, whether it is legitimate, it is because the Government treats us as a tribe. We should believe that Rio Tinto is expelled. Even if that is true, how can we allow other companies to do the same in other parts of Serbia,“ Manojlovic asked.

He added he did not want to be an opposition leader. „I wish them all the best in the elections. If the issue is resolved and the elections are held, I will vote for them.“

Manojlovic said that „nobody enjoys the roadblocks or taking risks. But the regime forces us; it violates the people’s fundamental rights. We do not want conflicts with other citizens; we fight for their rights and the journalists’ right to do their job. The only thing we are asking for is the moratorium, and we call on all citizens to win this battle together.“

Commenting on reports about the police fining protesters they did not identify during the demonstration, but seemingly by footage from security cameras, Manojlovic said he organised the roadblocks.

„People just responded, and there is no basis for them to be punished. I am ready to testify and bear all the consequences. We have lawyers who will provide legal assistance to people; we collected money through donations so that people do not have to pay the fines themselves.“