Serbia’s environmentalists: Protest, camping, obstructing of election process

savo manojlović

At the protest in Belgrade outside the Presidency building on Thursday night, the environmentalists said they planned three steps if the Parliament did not accept their only demand – a ban on mining lithium in boron in the whole of the country.

President Aleksandar Vucic has proposed a year-long moratorium, but the environmentalists have said it has been an attempt to fool them ahead of elections on April 3.

They said they would first organise a new rally at the same place next Thursday and that people from the western village of Gornje Nedeljice, the centre of the Rio Tinto’s potential lithium mine, would join them.

They would camp outside the Presidency until the request was accepted.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said there is no time for deciding on the request since the Parliament has to be dissolved on February 15.

The third step would be the obstruction of the election process ahead of the spring vote. They said the authorities would not be able to prepare the elections in a peaceful atmosphere.

The organiser, the ‘Go – Change’ Initiative’s director Savo Manojlovic, said earlier that the Interior Ministry (MUP) banned this Thursday rally but would go on as planned. He added he refused to accept the note on the ban.

MUP later denied the ban, saying Manojlovic missed the 5-day deadline for the report of a gathering and that „means it is not reported.“

Other environmental organisations joined the Initiative in Thursday’s protest.

The demonstrators blocked a central street and said they would go for a walk to the Government’s seat.

They said that when the pro-regime tabloids publish a photo of protesters describing them as foreign mercenaries, they would „cover the city with pictures of those who „financed Clinton’s Foundation,“ alluding to Vucic. „He knows what that would mean to his voters,“ Manojlovic said.

Vucic admitted supporting the Foundation in 2016, saying he did it because „I’m smart.“