The Serbian capital, Belgrade, was rocked by protests for a second straight day when police clashed with angry opposition supporters the planned return of a weekend lockdown due to a surge in new coronavirus cases.
Critics blame the government for the increase they blame rapid lifting of initial restrictions ahead of an election in June, and say people shouldn’t have to pay the price of another lock.
Although President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday that the weekend curfew would likely be lifted, thousands of people gathered outside the parliament building to protest.
Clouds of tear gas and smoke filled Belgrade’s city center with chaotic scenes that reflected the violence of the night before.
“The government is just trying to protect its own interests, people are collateral damage,” said Jelina Jankovic, a 53-year-old who attended the rally, where people from left to right came together.
Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won the June poll by a landslide in a vote boycotted by the main opposition.
Since then, coronavirus infections have occurred more than 300 cases per day and are overwhelming hospitals.
The government has reported nearly 17,000 infections and 330 deaths.
“We are fed up with the manipulation of COVID-19 data,” said another protester, Danijela Ognjenovic, referring to allegations that authorities are not reporting the death toll sufficiently.