Yesterday, Kosovo is Serbia rally was held in Belgrade. According to unofficial sources, 150,000-200,000 people attended it to protest against unilateral proclamation of independence of Kosovo. The rally went peacefully, but was followed by rioting. Buildings of the American, Croatian and Turkish embassies were set on fire. Many people were injured, at least one person was killed.
Below are a few reactions by the Serbian bloggers who blog at B92's blog portal (all but one are translated from Serbian).
Milan Lukic posted this short summary:
Let's sum it up once again: the rally in Belgrade today was party-organized, not a people's rally. […]
[…] Let's non allow losers of the last presidential election to cancel the people's will by force. Let's not allow that today's peace protest, as it is falsely named, to cancel the democratic will of the majority. Let's not allow the rats to pull us under water, into mud. Into their false country.
Dejan Stankovic provided this vivid description of yesterday's events in Belgrade:
1. Prime minister, accompanied by his friends and like-minded persons, looked like someone who is sick of everything when he addressed the people. Two hundred years ago, his speech could be perceived as modern. Today, it is a parody. […]
2. The not-to-be president of the country [Tomislav Nikolic] and prime minister's pal threatens to go into Kosovo. I immediately remember the '90s and it gets me worried.
3. Then, the naivete of the athletes was abused. Publicly, so that the whole world could see. At that moment, I was sorry more than I was ashamed.
4. Then appeared a convert disguised as Rasputin [filmmaker Emir Kusturica]. At that moment I felt nauseous.
5. Parents of Serbian young people applauded. I felt even more nauseous.
6. And their children, the future of Serbia, became wild. After the rally, they were destroying, breaking, burning and looting all over Belgrade. […] Then I was sorry and, at the same time, I was angry. […]
For the end, the impression of the night:
A picture of the demolished Belgrade, victim of Serbian terror.
Apocalyptic scenes, chaos and fire, and in the middle of the disarray, young Serbian vandals walk indifferently down the street. They grew up in chaos and in the chaos they live the best.
But, in the middle of the disarray, a group of Roma was diligently clearing Belgrade's streets…
Then I recalled the words of a man who told me when I was child that the Roma were Serbia's biggest shame. […]
Ivan Marovic, wrote this in English in a blog post titled, “The end of nationalism”:
Since Kosovo declared independence Belgrade has become a warzone. Radicals are burning and looting, and ordinary people are confused – five days ago they were concerned with Kosovo, today they are concerned with the possibility that drunken hooligans may smash their heads with rocks. Kosovo is far away, radicals are just around the corner, breaking windows and setting buildings on fire.
The Belgrade riots are a symptom of a failed political movement. Nationalism has nothing to offer, no strategy, no plan, no political vision. Unlike Gazimestan in 1989, where Milosevic faced a crowd much bigger, crowd consisted of people that were calm and determined, Kostunica today faced people without a clue. Unlike Milosevic who promised war and revenge, Kostunica has nothing to promise, nothing to offer. He can only complain.
You can tell the day by the dawn. Nationalism is finished in Serbia, nationalism has nothing to offer except self destruction. We just need to wait for the mob to get tired of rioting, come out and continue the peaceful protest that started two weeks ago, protest led by Belgrade students, protest with a clear goal – European integration.
Boris Tadic was in Romania, while Kostunica was giving a speech together with Nikolic. This may prove to be a big blow to Kostunica. The message is more than clear: Serbian interests are better served with diplomacy than with speeches followed by looting. The contrast between Tadic and Kostunica is clear and will undermine Kostunica's base of support in the months to come. […]
Nebojsa Milenkovic sent an open letter to president Tadic. He warned him about vandalism in the streets of Serbian cities and the possible consequences.
Mr. President Tadic,
I am turning to you on behalf of the citizens who, despite all, still believe in the democratic heritage and who strongly want Serbia to become part of the civilized, developed and democratic society. I am asking you, a person with a huge confidence of citizens on the last voting, to turn to the public and protect all people who are exposed to danger and violence by many hooligans in Belgrade's streets at the moment when our country comes face to face with one of its biggest historical defeats and humiliations.
You should not be silent until the mass political hysteria and blindness of those people […] became wild in the streets of Serbian cities in the last days. The current situation the in country should not serve as justification for suspension of freedom of speech or even physical liquidation of each political alternative, and you had to react to this fact! On the contrary, if this madness is not be stopped, the loss of Kosovo and Metohja would be followed by a permanent loss of the even elementary European and democratic perspective for this society and would return destructive political forces on the stage of Serbia. You overcame them in the last election thanks to the votes of those citizens who exposed violence in Serbia today. […]
Jelena Milic quoted statements by two Serbian ministers who have justified violence; below is one of these quotes:
“Democracy also means smashing embassy building windows.”
Velimir Ilic, Serbian minister for infrastructure.