Regional broadcaster N1 reports that “Patriotic forces” supported by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) are planning to bring more than 70,000 people to the plateau in front of the St Sava Temple in Belgrade to greet Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 17, quoting Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti.
Vecernje Novosti claims to have learned that the crowd will gather at the central Republic Square to march to the temple. The gathering is planned to take place a day after an anti-government protest in central Belgrade.
The daily’s unnamed sources said that the gathering is a show of respect and gratitude for the Russian head of state’s support to Serbia on Kosovo.
Belgrade based daily Danas quoted unnamed sources who said that local branches of President Aleksandar Vucic’s SNS have been given quotas for the gathering, adding that the SNS branch in Nis has been ordered to bring at least 3,000 people to Belgrade while the Kragujevac branch has a quota of 2,500.
Daily Danas, which is viewed by the authorities as an opposition newspaper, said that the goal of the gathering is not a show of respect for Putin but a “counter-strike against the opposition” which has scheduled a gathering on January 16 to mark the anniversary of the killing of Kosovo Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic.