Serbian government will crack down on far-right groups
Serbia’s interior minister has stated the government will crack down on far-right groups following anti-gay protests and riots which caused Serbia’s match in Italy to be abandoned.
Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told the Associated Press that anti-gay rioters and the fans who disrupted the match in Genoa belong to the same extremist groups.
“Generally, those are extremist groups that existed for years and are registered in police files and their members have been arrested in the past,” Dacic said.
“They have various goals and are looking for various reasons for violence,” he said. “The state must react to protect public peace. Now, all depends on the judiciary.”
More than 150 people were hurt Sunday in downtown Belgrade in running battles with police as thousands of far-right demonstrators tried to disrupt a gay pride march by hurling firebombs and stun grenades at police.
Nearly 250 people were arrested after the riots, and 66 have been ordered to remain in custody for 30 days as a pretrial detention measure.
An Italy-Serbia European championship qualifier game was abandoned Tuesday in Italy when Serbia fans threw flares and fireworks onto the pitch, burned a flag and broke barriers.
“The Serbs are experts at shooting themselves in the foot,” Dacic said. “The whole of Europe was watching what happened at the stadium.”
The Serbian fan groups are known to be infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other extremists with a staunch anti-Western agenda. The rise of the extremism in Serbia is attributed to the economic crisis and a lack of jobs in the wake of the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
“Those groups have a number of supporters, but I’m sure their strength is not big enough to jeopardize the state order,” Dacic said.
From Associated Press