Independent Member of Parliament Miladin Sevralic went on hunger strike on Sunday in protest that the Assembly was ignoring his request to discuss Belgrade’s policy towards Kosovo. He was joined by Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic, who supported him and added that his protest was also against the June 21 elections. An hour later, two lawmakers from the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SPP), Alexander Martinovic and Sandra Bozic, went on a hunger strike on the steps in front of parliament, protesting the prosecution’s lack of reaction to Obradovic’s “attack” on counterpart Marian Risticevic on Friday. On Monday morning, Sevralic called off the strike, saying it made no sense after the media focused on SPP and Obradovic lawmakers.
That afternoon, thousands of SPP supporters gathered in front of parliament in an organized manner to express their support for President Aleksandar Vucic and the two SPP strikers as they shouted, “Bosko is a fascist, Aca is a Serb.”
Several of Obradovic’s friends, mostly from his hometown of Cacak, were separated from the gendarmerie by SPP supporters to avoid clashes. However, a SPP sympathizer was filmed punching a woman and later arrested by police for hooliganism. Supporters of the largest opposition coalition, the Union for Serbia, later joined the protest in defense of Obradovic.
Hours after tensions between the two politically engaged groups in front of parliament, President Aleksandar Vucic urged people not to gather before the end of this month to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
“It is unacceptable to put our people at risk before we end the epidemic. Gathering SPP supporters and the Dveri opposition movement is not appropriate now and I would ask them not to do so,” Vucic told a news conference in an attempt to calm the situation.
Vucic said that “the SPP is not the organizer of the rally, but another organization. I love these people and I urge them to wait until the end of May, when we will have a chance to gather en masse.” He added that he was informed that “5790 SPP supporters and 64-65 opposition supporters have gathered”.
Vucic’s speech came hours after the NGO Transparency Serbia criticized him for “dramatic nationalist speeches” and his involvement in issues outside his presidential jurisdiction.
Asked about the latest Freedom House report, which sharply criticizes corruption in Serbia, Vucic said: “I read the report. It’s extremely unserious and full of incorrect information. I thought the authors were experts, but then I saw it was one man, a journalist of BIRN.” (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network)
Vucic asked Aleksandar Martinovic and Sandra Bozic to stop the hunger strike. At the same time, Martinovic addressed the rally, saying Bozic would stop, but he still had to think about it. The SNS crowd started dispersing immediately after his address.