BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had to use a side entrance to access the state television building on Tuesday evening after around 200 angry opposition supporters blocked the main door in a protest over what they said was government control of the media.
Protesters, shouting “Vucic, thief!”, began gathering around about an hour before a Vucic live interview was due to start on Serbian state broadcaster RTS TV. The protesters accuse Vucic of staging his media appearances and not taking difficult questions, accusations he denies.
A special police unit stepped in to prevent violence between the opposition protesters and around 100 of Vucic’s supporters.
Vucic posted a photo on Instagram from inside the RTS studio, saying he had gone in via the side entrance.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support,” he wrote.
Most opposition parties are set to boycott next year’s parliamentary elections over accusations that there is not a level playing field for the campaign. European Union-mediated talks between them and Vucic’s Serbian Progressive party have not yet reached agreement.
The Alliance for Serbia, a loose grouping of opposition political parties and movements, have been staging weekly rallies for almost a year to protest the rule of Vucic’s Progressive Party of Serbia, which they say is autocratic, corrupt, and stifling media freedoms and democracy.
Vucic and his party have denied the allegations.
Serbia has dropped 14 places on the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, ranking 90th of the 180 states.
Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic, Marko Djurica and Ivana Sekularac, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien