Hundreds stop traffic in Serbia in protest against government’s environmental stances

Hundreds of protesters blocked roads and bridges in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Saturday over concerns with the government’s latest policies, which they say will harm the environment.

Protesters stopped traffic at key intersections in Belgrade and grappled with police in the city. A number of Serbians were detained, the Associated Press reported, but the protesters promised to continue marching against the government.

Protests sprouted up in cities across the Balkan country, and images on Twitter showed skirmishes between police and crowds of people.

Citizens are upset with the ruling progressive party, headed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. The government approved the building of a lithium mine in western Serbia by international mining firm Rio Tinto, a project protesters have decried because it could pollute local waterways and harm air quality.

Still other activists are concerned about new laws that lowered the country’s referendum threshold and allowed the state to more easily acquire private property via expropriation. Activists say these policies could let foreign investors to override the public and proceed with projects that could be harmful to the environment.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Serbia in September, objecting to the mining project. More than 100,000 people have signed on to a petition against the lithium mine.

Serbia faces significant environmental concerns, including poor air quality, landfill waste and polluted rivers, which citizens have been concerned about for years.

Tags Belgrade blockades Environment foreign investors police Protests referendum law Serbia skirmishes

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