Where have all the fascists gone? Belgrade Pride 2014

Entering the Belgrade Pride Parade through the cordon sanitaire from the direction of the main train station, everything seemed to eerily resemble the last Pride held in October 2010 when the city was attacked by around 7,000 hooligans who wounded over 100 police and civilians. This year however, the worst injuries Belgrade Pride participants sustained was perhaps mild sunburn as they walked up Knez Miloš street from the Government of Serbia to the Belgrade City Parliament in sunny autumn weather.

One of the biggest talking points for Pride participants already at the assembly point was the conspicuous absence of right wingers and hooligans on the streets of the city. This was unexpected considering Serbia’s difficult experience of holding (and banning) Pride events in the last 15 years and the unpopularity of the event amongst large swathes of Serbia’s population. Recent mobilisations were led by the Serbian Orthodox Church (whose Patriarch recently claimed that “gays are the same as paedophiles”) and far right groups like Dveri who assembled in the lead up to Pride. While the police presence along the pride route was considerable, their numbers were visibly less than in 2010.

Successfully holding Belgrade Pride without the large scale violence which has plagued previous attempts might be optimistically interpreted as a positive change in Serbian society and institutions. Unfortunately, the reasons for the calm during Pride 2014 probably have more to do with murky networks of power and cooperation between Vučić’s government and Serbia’s many far right groups than a creeping acceptance of LGBT rights amongst Serbian citizens.

Dragan Popović of the NGO Policy Centre commented on facebook:

“So, not even a hundred hooligans went out on the street. No leader of hooligan groups, extremist organisations, not Anđeli pakla, Zabranjeni, Alkatraz, Delije, United Force, neonacisti, Krv i čast, Zavetnici, Obraz, Naši, Dveri [hooligan and fascist formations], nobody apart from a few stray radicals. So, why did all these people not come even though they have regularly done so until 2012? Does somebody maybe control all these violent people in Serbia? This is the most dangerous fact which we found out today and which we should follow closely in the future. Do we have armed units who work on command, burn down embassies when required, burn Belgrade when needed but stay at home when the Leader demands it?”

While Belgraders may today breathe a sigh of relief that the city was not once again engulfed by violence towards its people and property, the issue of sinister links between Vučić, his government, state security and intelligence forces, and the many and far right hooligan and fascist groups in Serbia has been highlighted in an unexpected way – through the conspicuous absence of violence.

To add a bizarre twist, two of the few individuals who actually did sustain injuries in altercations with security forces were the brothers of Premier Vučić, and Mayor of Belgrade Siniša Mali. Andrej Vučić, in the company of Predrag Mali attempted to pass a police cordon with bodyguards for unclear reasons. This video clip shows Serbian gendarmes attempting to pacify Andrej Vučić requesting him repeatedly to lie down and beating him with batons. (Vučić responded to the incident by “forgiving” the gendarmes in consideration that they were “doing a job they did not want to do” while government tabloids vilified the gendarmes).

While Belgrade Pride 2014 was an achievement in breaking the taboo of three consecutive bans since 2011 while avoiding the violence that characterised 2001 and 2010, one should be cautious in interpreting the event as a simple victory for human rights. Conditions for a peaceful Pride appear to have occurred with acquiescence of the far right leadership (for reasons yet unclear or for promises which are yet unknown).

In 2010 debate in Serbia raged about the strength of the Serbian state and its security forces vis-à-vis far right groups and hooligans with Ivica Dačić, then Minister for Internal Affairs making the claim that “nobody is more powerful than the state”. Four years later it appears that somebody is indeed more powerful than state institutions and has the capacity to rein in the far right and hooligan groups that have plagued Serbia for decades. Unfortunately he is unlikely to do so.

Rory Archer

Rory Archer is a PhD candidate at the University of Graz where he works as a researcher at the Centre for Southeast European Studies on the FWF funded project “Between class and nation: Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro”. Recent publications include the volume Debating the End of Yugoslavia (Florian Bieber, Armina Galijaš and Rory Archer, eds. 2014).

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This is ridiculous. Why are

This is ridiculous. Why are you a fascist if you believe in social conservative values and want to march for that around the same time as the "pride parade"?

It seems you are the fascist, intolerant of other peoples views. Do Orthodox Christians not have a right to assemble in an Orthodox Christian country to stand up for conservative values that are important to them? So what makes a someone a Serb or someone an Orthodox Christian and not a "far-right fascist"?

Do you know a first thing

Do you know a first thing about the people he's talking about? These are not some uptight "social conservatives", they are packs of violent - and, on several occasions, deadly - hooligans, who are willing to attack anything and anyone that, in their opinion, threatens the world order as they see it. Well, not just "willing", they have done it many times already.
And being Serbian or Orthodox is not what makes them fascist, of course. It is the fact that they actively promote and practice an ideology in which everyone non-Serbian, non-Orthodox and non-heterosexual is a target for violence or even extermination.
So, no, this is not ridiculous. It is actually pretty scary that the likes of these are being controled directly by the state and its power apparatus.

P.s., the great majority of

P.s., the great majority of the 7, 000 people were not "hooligans", rather families i.e. mothers and children that came out to walk in support of the traditional family unit. The handful of hooligans could have very well been provocateurs to give a bad name to the protest as a whole.

To say 7, 000 hooligans assembled and took to the streets in violence is not only wrong but a bit racist. I say racist because the author is probably a supporter of the mainstream Western political thought that Serbs are barbarians that had to be obliterated from the air despite the fact that their civilians were also being murdered by their ex-Yu neighbors.

You my friend are not very tolerant at all.

"Does somebody maybe control

"Does somebody maybe control all these violent people in Serbia? This is the most dangerous fact which we found out today and which we should follow closely in the future. Do we have armed units who work on command, burn down embassies when required, burn Belgrade when needed but stay at home when the Leader demands it? "

It sounds like the 1990s all over again, but rather than burning down towns/villages in Croatia and Bosnia, they've been targeting "internal enemies" when convenient for the powers that be... Some things don't seem to change.

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