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Belgrade protests for 7th week against Serbian leader

Published
A man holds a Serbian flag and banner that reads ''Wake up, Stand up Serbia'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule.

The protest Saturday comes after Vucic's party bused tens of thousands of his supporters into the capital during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit on Thursday. Vucic's critics say the gathering was his attempt to show that he has many more supporters than opponents in Serbia.

Chanting "Vucic Go Away!" the whistle-blowing crowds marched to the state TV headquarters, which has largely ignored the weekly protests.

Critics accuse the president of imposing an autocracy through strict control over the media and promoting hate speech against opponents. Vucic rejects the charges.

The demonstrations started after thugs beat up an opposition leader in November, putting pressure on Vucic.

People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner showing slain Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic that reads: ''Justice for Oliver'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a effigy representing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dressed as a prisoner, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner that reads: ''#1out of 5 million'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A man holds a Serbian flag and banner that reads ''Wake up, Stand up Serbia'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A man holds a Serbian flag and banner that reads ''Wake up, Stand up Serbia'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a effigy representing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dressed as a prisoner, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a effigy representing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dressed as a prisoner, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner showing slain Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic that reads: ''Justice for Oliver'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner showing slain Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic that reads: ''Justice for Oliver'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner that reads: ''#1out of 5 million'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People hold a banner that reads: ''#1out of 5 million'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Several thousand people have marched in Belgrade for the seventh week of protests against what they say is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's autocratic rule. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)