All not good in Serbia

Image source: Reuters

A video has gone viral where we can clearly see the image of police brutality.  It has been told that the video is of Serbia. Serbia, a nation which came out in 1991 after the collapse of Albania. Amidst the threat of the COVID-19, where the world has stopped and locked down in their respective houses whereas in the streets of Belgrade the thousands of people has come out against their president Aleksandar Vučić. The news spread that they are protesting against the anti-pandemic measures but the real situation is far from that.

On 7th July, a massive protest erupts when the government re-enforced the tough lockdown on the country amid rising cases of COVID-19, this came after the two weeks of general election’s result when Vučić’s party Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won the parliamentary election, which the world recognised it. It has been claimed that the election was rigged by the ruling party to remain in the power. Soon after the uprising, the police came out to cease the movement by brutal force. Assaulting and arresting the protestors. Even the bystanders were beaten brutally by the police. By its own home and western media, the protest was made anti-lockdown protests and hence the world was blinded once again from the truth.

This protest is the outcome of the growing anger of the general public which kept on adding with the increasing authoritarianism of Vučić’s government, their neoliberal policies, corruption and manipulation of media. When the government announced the lifting of lockdown in May, just to show the world how efficiently they tackled the pandemic and using this lockdown they encashed the votes and won the parliamentary election. In reality, in May, the cases were low and it rises after the lifting of lockdown. But the government remained ignorant to the situation. Overnight, from the strictest lockdown to permitting and encouraging super-spreader events, including a Serbian Football Cup semi-final match with 20,000 spectators. The COVID statistics were manipulated just to prove that the government has won the battle against the virus, but in reality, the cases were rising and it was unstoppable.

Image source: Fortune

Just after the polls, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) published a report which stated the actual number of COVID-19 infection and mortality numbers which were three times more than what the government had reported officially. Initially, government denied the claim but later on 7th July president Vučić announced the new curfew, noting that the health system was overwhelmed due to citizens’ irresponsible behaviour, which further triggered the protests. One thing should be noted that the protest was not against the control measure of the government but it was against president Vučić’s ignorant decision of lockdown and lifting of the lockdown to fulfil his political agendas.

Right now the cases are increasing tremendously and in many cases, the frontline healthcare workers are now getting infected. After the 21st June vote, there has been a spike in the cases and the government is still hiding the actual facts. The Serbian health system is suffering from a massive exodus, especially to Germany, of qualified but underpaid staff. According to the economic information portal novaekonomija.rs, it is lacking 3,500 doctors and 8,000 nurses. In the midst of a pandemic, the Serbian citizens are forced to pay the higher fees in the private clinic and hospitals to receive proper care as the public hospitals are in shamble. These private hospitals are inflating the fees. After a week of police brutality and arrests of the protestors, president Vučić tried to pacify the people but nobody wants to listen. Till now, the lockdown announced on the 7th July has been scrapped and the protestors are released. The president even announced that Serbia will be one of the first countries in the world to be benefitted from the vaccine with the help of unnamed country (which is still unknown to us) but still we can say that nothing is good in Serbia as the cases are rising day by day, the public healthcare is crumbling, the general public is clueless and the government is unable to handle the situation. We can hope for the better things to come

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Abhinav Kaushal

Abhinav Kaushal is an Associate Editor at The Kootneeti. He can be reached at abhinav@thekootneeti.in

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