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Suspected election fraud ;: protests in Serbia

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Protesters, blocking a street in Belgrade, hold signs representing the Serbian prime minister and president.

Agence France-Presse< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Protest actions took place again on Monday in Belgrade to denounce fraud during the recent legislative elections won by the nationalist right. Moscow holds the West's desire to “destabilize” Serbia responsible for these mobilizations. first blocked several arteries in the capital before meeting in the evening in front of police stations to demand the release of protesters arrested the day before during clashes in front of Belgrade town hall.

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Protesters blocked several streets in Belgrade on December 25, 2023.

The building was then attacked by demonstrators who tried to enter before being pushed back by the police. Two police officers were seriously injured and at least 35 people arrested, according to authorities.

Castidizing the violence, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, whose Progressive Party Serbian (nationalist right) was declared the winner of the December 17 vote, claimed to have proof that they had been fomented abroad.

Belgrade's main ally, Moscow, stepped up to the plate on Monday to accuse the West of being in charge. It is obvious that the West as a whole is seeking to destabilize the situation in Serbia, said Russian diplomatic spokesperson Maria Zakharova, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

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She compared these demonstrations to those of the Maidan in Kiev, which resulted in the pro-Westerners came to power in Ukraine in early 2014.

Attempts by third-party forces, including from abroad, to provoke such unrest in Belgrade are obvious, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during his daily press briefing.

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić votes in the December 17, 2023 elections in Belgrade.

In the December 17 vote, Mr Vučić's party won more than half of the 250 seats in Parliament.

However, the largest opposition coalition, Serbia Against Violence, has denounced electoral fraud, committed in particular when Serb voters from neighboring Bosnia could have voted illegally in the capital.

The European Union was concerned about the situation and Germany described the allegations as unacceptable for a country hoping to join EU.

President since 2017, Aleksandar Vučić has maintained a balance between East and West, promising to keep Serbia on the path to EU membership, while remaining very close of Russia and courting China as much as Washington.

However, since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Belgrade has never applied sanctions against Russia, from where it imports gas in particular.

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Aleksandar Vučić and his party claimed victory, as polling stations closed across the country, on the day of the parliamentary elections on December 17, 2023 .

Mr. Vučić's successes in his country have mainly revolved around the economy, in one of the poorest countries on the European continent, which saw inflation reach 16% in the spring before decreasing around 8 % in November.

For his supporters, Vučić's years in power, however, brought order and billions of investments . Between 2012 and 2022, foreign direct investment in Serbia increased from 1 to 4.4 billion euros.

In Belgrade, demonstrators, mainly students from the Borba (combat) organization, are demanding the revision of the electoral lists which, according to them, are at the origin of electoral fraud.

I was born in 2002 and I didn't think we would have to fight for democracy in the streets like my parents did, he said Emilija Milenkovi, a political science student.

But I have to do it, added the 21-year-old, wearing a badge from the historic Otpor student movement (resistance), which had participated in the protest against the power of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in the 2000s.

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Protesters protesting in front of Belgrade City Hall were arrested on December 24, 2023.

This vote sparked widespread criticism after international observers, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), denounced a series of irregularities, including vote buying and ballot stuffing.

Hundreds of people have since demonstrated daily in front of the Serbian Electoral Commission and the convictions internationals flocked. Members of the main opposition list, Serbia Without Violence, have started a hunger strike in a bid to overturn the election results.

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