Despite the government ban on outdoor gatherings of more than ten people imposed earlier on Friday due to the coronavirus pandemic, crowds rallied in Belgrade and the northern city of Novi Sad for the fourth night in a row of anti-government protests, and some demonstrators were trying to forcibly enter the Parliament building in the capital while the police did not react.
N1 reporter and cameraman were threatened while filming those who were provoking incidents.
“Four demonstrators approached us trying to chase us away and hit the microphone. They didn’t touch us, and we both are all right,” N1 reporter Petar Gajic said.
On Friday, some demonstrators toppled the metal fence around the Parliament building, and some 100 young people climbed the stairs leading to the parliament building.
The scenes were in stark contrast than those from the Thursday’s protest when a majority of demonstrators in several cities and towns across Serbia opted for a sit-in revolt against what they said was an authoritarian rule by President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), claiming the government had been lying about the number of dead and infected with the coronavirus.
According to the media, members of the far-right nationalist organisation 'Obraz' (Cheek), banned in Serbia for its violent activities, had joined the protest and addressed the crowd.
Anti-government demonstrators moved further from the scene but did not leave the protest.
The far-right protesters yelled slogans against Vucic and sang songs about Kosovo, threw bottles against the building’s window, but then left the stairs. The police rushed to the scene, but did not intervene despite being peppered with stones and firecrackers.
An N1 reporter on the scene said there were not enough anti-riot police force present at the scene to take any action and they could only protect themselves with shields. The most aggressive protesters yelled at police "Go to Kosovo" and "Arrest Vucic."
Some other demonstrators tried and failed to calm the most aggressive ones. Eventually, the situation calmed down slightly, while some of the far-right protesters called on the police officers to put down their helmets and shields and "be with the people."
Earlier, N1 was told that a man had been stabbed in the thigh outside the parliament building. He was taken inside the building.
“I haven’t seen what happened but saw when people tried to stop the bleeding from that man’s leg. He was stabbed twice,” Srdjan Nogo, the leader of the right-wing ‘Svetlost’ (Light) political organisation, told N1.
An N1 reporter said she saw at least three people arrested and taken into a police van.
The opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said earlier in the day they had received information from the police that far-right groups were preparing to provoke new riots.
In the city of Novi Sad, people went for a protest walk. The demonstrations were also held in several other places across the country.