22:25 GMT23 June 2021
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    Serbian Protests: Vucic's Yellow Vest Moment?

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    Protesters rallied in the Serbian capital of Belgrade for the sixth straight weekend demanding better and more transparent governance, prompting some to compare them to France’s Yellow Vest movement.

    According to the demonstrators, President Vucic has become increasingly authoritarian and has been cracking down on media freedoms, to say nothing of the long-running allegations that he and his government are notoriously corrupt and involved in shady business dealings related to the Belgrade Waterfront redevelopment project. They're also very concerned that he's on the verge of striking a secret deal with the NATO-occupied separatist province of Kosovo and Metohija that Serbs traditionally regard as the cradle of their civilization in order to fast track his country's entry into the EU.

    Although there are certainly differences between the Serbian protesters and their Yellow Vest counterparts in France, it's difficult not to make a few comparisons between both movements. Each of them appear to be genuinely grassroots initiatives which aim to hold elected officials to account for their countries' many problems, and both of them are mostly comprised of regular folks and not so-called "professional protesters" commonly associated with Colour Revolutions. Furthermore, these two movements have proven that they have staying power and neither of them seems to be going away anytime soon. They started off as public reactions to certain government policies but have now morphed into proactive anti-government movements that are becoming more confident with each passing week.

    On the other hand, however, there are those who see a touch of Colour Revolutionary fever in the latest Serbian protests and distrust the intentions of their organizers, even if the bulk of the participants have sincerely patriotic intentions. They vividly remember the so-called "Bulldozer Revolution" of 2000 that toppled Slobodan Milosevic and cynically feel that the contemporary movement's organizers are just abusing populist slogans in order to have a chance to steal money themselves if they ever succeeded in coming to power. Moreover, Reuters noted that the ruling party supposedly has over three times as much support as the alliance of protesting opposition parties, suggesting that this very vocal political minority is receiving attention disproportionate to their popularity.

    It's for all of these reasons why it's worthwhile to wonder whether Vucic is really facing his own Yellow Vest moment or if the reality might be somewhat different than how it's being portrayed by some.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Dragana Trifkovic, Director of the Center for Geostrategic Studies and Chairman of the Committee for International Cooperation of the parliamentary party Dveri, and Stevan Gajic, PhD in political science who works at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade.

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    yellow vests, protest, Yellow Vests Protests, Aleksandar Vucic, Belgrade, Serbia
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