Police in the Serbian capital Belgrade fired tear gas at protesters demonstrating against the country’s President Aleksandar Vucic after he announced a weekend-long curfew to try to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.
Video from the scene showed at least several hundred demonstrators gathered around Serbia’s Parliament where scuffles erupted, prompting riot police to fire thick plumes of tear gas.
Some protesters also threw objects at the police, video showed.
On Tuesday, Serbia recorded its highest daily death toll from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, with the country’s President calling the situation in Belgrade “alarming.”
But protesters told CNN affiliate N1 they were angry because the government allowed the virus to spike out of control by lifting most restrictions in early May, meaning bars and nightclubs were able to operate at full capacity.
The protesters also said the government lifted restrictions in order to hold a general election in June — the first Europe country to do so during the pandemic. Campaign rallies – with little or no social distancing – were held.
As they surrounded the Parliament building in central Belgrade, protesters chanted “arrest Vucic” and “treason.” A small group of protesters managed to enter the Parliament’s lobby before they were pushed out by the police.
The Balkan nation initially implemented one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak, with nightly and weekend-long curfews across the country and over 65s banned from leaving their homes.