BELGRADE, December 12. /TASS/. A grass-roots rally of protest against the harassment of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija was held in Belgrade on Monday.
According to a TASS reporter, during the rally, the demonstrators burned the flag of the unrecognized republic of Kosovo.
The rally began near the Church of St. Sava. A man in a mask addressed those taking part from the church’s stairs saying: "They [in Pristina] are doing nothing to establish the Community of Serb Municipalities. They don’t respect any agreements. Kosovo is part of Serbia. It has always been and will always be." Then, he called on the demonstrators to march to the St. Mark’s Church to light candles and pray.
From the Church of St. Sava, the demonstrators marched to the presidential palace chanting ‘Kosovo is Serbia.’ They burned Kosovo’s flag in front of the presidential residence’s windows. After that, the column proceeded to the St. Mark’s Church. People were carrying Serbian flag, banners featuring the map of Kosovo and Metohija and chanting ‘Kosovo is Serbia’s heart,’ ‘Away with the NASTO pact.’ They said a prayer all together, sang a song about Kosovo and began to leave.
The situation in Kosovo was aggravated dramatically on December 6, when the Kosovo police along with EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) patrols began to seize premises housing electoral commissions in northern Kosovo and Metohija. Local Serbs repelled the Kosovars, who fled across the Ibar River. Two days later, on December 8, around 350 Kosovo policemen in armored cars intruded into the Serb-inhabited northern Kosovo and blocked the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica. On December 10, the Kosovo police detained Dejan Pantic, a former Serbian policeman, on dubious charges. In response, the Serb population erected barricades along a highway in several locations and took to the streets in protest.
KFOR (a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo) and EULEX patrols were deployed to the barricades. Later in the day, Prime Minister of the unrecognized republic of Kosovo Albin Kurti demanded the Serbs remove the barricades by Sunday evening, warning that otherwise, the police would be sent out.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on December 10 that his country planned to issue a request to KFOR to deploy 1,000 Serbian law enforcement officers to Kosovo and Metohija in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1244.