Serbia Arrests 21 Over Far-Right Attacks On Police During EuroPride March


Serbia has arrested 21 people in connection with attacks against police during EuroPride events in Belgrade last month.

Those arrested on October 10 are believed to be far-right hooligans who were protesting against the pan-European LGBT pride march that drew about 1,000 people to the center of the Serbian capital on September 17 even though the event and counterdemonstrations were officially banned by authorities.

Scattered incidents were reported throughout the event, with officials saying anti-gay activists threw bottles at police and attempted to break through cordons set up by authorities to block LGBT activists' paths.

More than 80 people were arrested on the day of the event, and criminal charges were brought against 11 people.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said in an October 10 statement announcing the new arrests that as long as he is in charge, "no one will beat policemen with impunity."

"Violence will not be tolerated, no matter who it comes from," Vulin said.

The 21 people arrested were identified only by their initials and will face criminal charges for participating in attacks on officers while they were performing official duties.

The statement did not specify which far-right groups the arrested individuals might belong to.

Police searches of dozens of locations related to the case resulted in the confiscation of a large quantity of pyrotechnic devices, batons, knives, firearms, narcotics, and other illegal items, according to the Interior Ministry.

Some of those arrested will face charges related to the illegal production, possession, and trafficking of weapons and explosives, as well as the production and sale of illegal drugs.

Marko Mihailovic, the coordinator of Serbia EuroPride, told RFE/RL that he supported the arrests but hopes that more such actions will come.

"We regularly report and forward to the police information about attacks on members of the LGBT population who contact us, but so far there has been no reaction from the police to such reports," Mihailovic said.

A similar message was issued by the LGBT association Da Se Zna (To Be Clear).

In a statement on the organization's Instagram account, Da Se Zna said it had recorded "a total of 16 incidents motivated by homophobia and transphobia, and more than half of them involved physical violence."