Anatomy of a Nationalist Protest

Yesterday afternoon I decided to attend one of the daily protests in support of Radovan Karadzic that are being organized by Serbian ultra-nationalists.

Here are a selection of pictures from the event, which was entirely peaceful, but in many ways utterly bizarre, especially when Mladic showed up…

A riot police staging position near Studenski Trg (Students Square). These vans are parked about 300m away from Trg Republika (Republic Square) where the rally is taking place.

A riot police staging position near Studenski Trg (Student’s Square). These vans are parked about 300m away from Trg Republika (Republic Square) where the rally is taking place.

This was the scene playing out as I arrived, about 20 minutes before the rally started in earnest. The music is, to my ear at least, unmistakeably Turkish. I have always be surprised at just how Turkish so much of the radical nationalist music and culture seems to be, even though it is completely understandable after 500 years of Turkish occupation. The instrument you hear being played is a Gusle, the same one played by Karadzic in his favourite pub in Belgrade.

The children in the picture were dancing a traditional dance just before this photo was taken.

The children in the picture were dancing a traditional dance just before this photo was taken.

Here is another eulogy to Karadzic, also sung in a distinctively middle eastern / Turkish way:

A man wearing a karadzic tshirt looks on as marshals prepare for the rally.

A man wearing a Karadzic t-shirt looks on as marshals prepare for the rally.

Protestors line up and sing patriotic songs

Protesters line up and sing patriotic songs

A weeping woman gives a three fingered nationalist gesture to onlookers

A weeping woman gives a three fingered nationalist gesture to onlookers

The protesters were mostly older people and tough looking young men. It looked like a few families had come up to Belgrade from Republika Srpska too.

Older people made up the majority of the protesters. There were also some tough looking young men and a few families, but the families looked like they had come up to Belgrade from the Republika Srpska.

The man on the left standard Serbian three fingered salute. The man on the right is making a strange new three fingered salute used by many protesters later.

The man on the left standard Serbian three fingered salute. The man on the right is making a strange new three fingered salute used by many protesters later.

The crowd was smaller than this picture suggests

The crowd was smaller than this picture suggests

The view from the podium

The view from the podium

A riot policeman jokes with colleagues. The police outnumbered the protesters three to one.

A riot policeman jokes with colleagues. The police outnumbered the protesters three to one.

A grinning man gestures to his poster of Radovan Karadzic.

A grinning man gestures to his poster of Radovan Karadzic.

A priest chats to a lady in the crowd. He later joined the protest leaders on the podium.

A priest chats to a lady in the crowd. He later joined the protest leaders on the podium.

This man stood there for hours holding his newspaper above his head. The old and the poor seemed to make up the bulk of the people at the protest.

This man stood there for hours holding his newspaper above his head. The old and the poor seemed to make up the bulk of the people at the protest.

A severe looking young man from 1389.org.yu keeps an eye on the crowd. To his left a man wears a Putin t-shirt. Russia remains the great hope for these protestors.

A severe looking young man from 1389.org.yu keeps an eye on the crowd. To his left a man wears a Putin t-shirt. Russia remains the great hope for these protesters.

Some onlookers wore clothes that matched their political eccentricities.

Some onlookers wore clothes that matched their political eccentricities.

From this angle you can see the protest was tiny.

From this angle you can see the protest was tiny.

When the rally got underway in earnest, people gathered behind the speakers to sing patriotic songs then listen to the speeches.

When the rally got under way in earnest, people gathered behind the speakers to sing patriotic songs then listen to the speeches. Notice the priest in the middle of teh picture in front of the man with the yellow shirt.

The rally appeared to end with some obligatory chants of “Ra-do-van Kara-dzic”

A phalanx of riot police standing-by near the protest. The speech-makers specifically appealed to the crowd not to drink, not to commit any acts of aggression or crimes and to leave the police and journalists alone.

A phalanx of riot police, known locally as “Ninja Turtles”,  standing-by near the protest. The speech-makers specifically appealed to the crowd not to drink, not to commit any acts of aggression or crimes and to leave the police and journalists alone.

Another squad of riot police, but they were hidden around a corner away from the rally.

Another squad of riot police (aka “Ninja Turtles”), but they were hidden around a corner away from the rally. Notice that their shields are different from the unit near the rally, suggesting that these are a reserve riot squad (ordinary cops in riot kit) not the specialised Gendermes.

7 Comments Anatomy of a Nationalist Protest

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Serbia: Pro-Karadzic Protest in Belgrade

  2. Pingback: Kosovo » For The Traveler.

  3. CCCC

    the ‘new’ 3 fingersalute as u call it isnt new.. its a religious sing, if u make a cross u hold these 3 fingers together in orthodox church… so the salute means (serbian) ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN / orthodox is best..

    Reply
  4. Jovan

    Look you can just se the ultra nationalism dripping frm the Serbs.

    Now anyone who is a patriot is nationalist? God forbid we are proud the one thing America tries but cannot destory is our pride.

    How long are we supposed to take this injustice and venom.

    CCCC bolje grob nego rob!bolje grob nego rob!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.