Wed, 20 Nov 2019

BELGRADE -- Several thousand anti-government protesters have rallied in the center of Belgrade in support of Serbian Army pensioners who are threatened with eviction from a hotel where they have been living for 25 years.

The demonstrators gathered at Terazijske fountain on August 25 and marched toward the Bristol Hotel, where they shouted: 'You are not alone.'

For more than seven months, Serbs have been taking to the streets of Belgrade and elsewhere weekly to protest what they say is President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule, growing press restrictions, and other problems in the country. Vucic denies the accusations.

The latest demonstration in the Serbian capital came after the authorities recently ordered ex-officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army and their families to leave the Bristol Hotel.

They were settled there in the early 1990s, and the government at the time promised they would soon get new flats.

The local authorities last week cut off the electricity in the hotel in order to force the 11 remaining families living there to leave and enable the reconstruction of the building as part of the government's Belgrade Waterfront development project, which is to include luxury penthouse apartments, shopping malls, hotels, and parks.

The anti-government demonstrations began in December after leftist opposition leader Borko Stefanovic was brutally beaten up by masked attackers.

Vucic later mocked the demonstrations, saying he wouldn't fulfil the demands 'even if five million of you come out.'

Since then, government opponents have rallied every Saturday under the slogan '1 Out Of 5 Million.'

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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