Serbia Cops Brutally Beat Lockdown Protesters

Story By: Alex Cope, Sub Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash

This is the moment Serbian police are filmed brutally beating protesters with batons and throwing women to the ground during demonstrations over new lockdown measures in Belgrade.

The scenes were filmed as protesters and police clashed in the Serbian capital Belgrade over the return of weekend lockdown in the country after a rise in cases of COVID-19, with the country seeing its highest coronavirus death toll (13) on Tuesday.

In the video, protesters can be seen sprinting away as two units of police in riot gear march towards them.

A woman is seen being violently shoved by two of the officers as the unit then sprints towards the crowds.

The officers are seen hitting protesters with their batons and one citizen falls to the ground in the chaos, with cops hitting him with batons as he gets up.

The cops are then seen kicking a man on the ground before he manages to get up and sprint away while an object is thrown at a police van.

A second clip shows a man running up to the police, seemingly just speaking to them, but he is repeatedly hit with batons and forced to the ground by the aggressive cops.

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And a third clip shows fires burning in the streets as local residents look on.

The person who recorded the clips, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Newsflash: “People started to come spontaneously in front of the city hall and they quickly blocked the crossing between Takovska Street, and Knez Milo Street. In only two hours so many people gathered in front of the city hall.

“At one moment a group of boys came, I assume they were nationalists, and they went through the stairs, came in front of the entrance, and started to provoke the police.

“Estimates state around 15,000 people were there when the police started to launch tear gas. A lot of them went hiding in the nearby streets, in the direction of King Alexander Boulevard. For a while, people were trying to come back to the city hall but the police didn’t stop throwing tear gas until their backup arrived.

“Soon after that, they started chasing and beating everyone who stood in their way (men, women, young and old people) and they didn’t distinguish between them.”

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They added: “After the riot started, I only saw emergency vehicles, I assume there were more, but I didn’t want to stay in the middle of conflict for long, and we were trying to run away in time. I saw a few people with bloody faces and other wounds.

“At about 3 am I managed to pass beside the police cordon and went home. I’m not sure what is happening at the moment in front of the city hall, although at that time it seemed relatively peaceful even though they closed off all the streets that led in that direction.”

The protests came over the imposing of strict weekend curfews in Serbia, with some claiming the previous easing of lockdown restrictions had been brought into place too early to suit President Aleksandar Vucic’s campaign for a parliamentary election last week, which he won.

Most of the opposition boycotted the election over complaints of increasing authoritarianism and some protestors stormed the parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday.

Serbia saw a spike of 299 cases on Tuesday and the country has now seen 17,076 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 341 deaths according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University.

Alex Cope

I am a senior writer and editor of the Golders news agency specialising in sports news from around the world.

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