Serbia protests – level 3

09-12-2021 07:00

Thousands of protesters in the Serbian town of Novi Sad blocked main roads and bridges on Saturday to express their anger over lithium mining plans.

It was the second such nationwide protest called by environmental groups as there is growing public dissatisfaction with the autocratic leadership of Serbian president Aleksander Vucic.

People have criticized him for not fighting widespread pollution and ignoring environmental concerns over lithium mining. The Serbian government already passed two laws to help a lithium mine by company Rio Tinto begin to work.

There are big amounts of lithium, a key part for electric car batteries, around the western town of Loznica, where the Anglo-Australian company is buying land. However, it’s still awaiting final approval from the government to begin mining.

Protests showed up despite police warnings and an intimidation campaign by authorities. The protests come months ahead of national elections in 2022, with critics of the protests accusing organizers of creating problems to undermine Vucic before the elections.

Difficult words: autocratic (controlled by one leader who has total power), intimidation (the action of frightening or threatening someone), undermine (to lessen the power or ability of something or someone).

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