Savamala Phantoms: Mysterious Demolition of Belgrade’s Cultural District

Mysterious phantoms are lurking through the Belgrade these days. But, if you are not connected with the Belgrade’s Savamala district, don’t worry, they won’t harm you. Or will they? One of the most dangerous affairs of the current government is happening right now in Serbia, and people are once again going on the streets.

Those who found themselves in the streets of Belgrade on the May 25th probably saw about 10,000 people marching from the National Assembly of Serbia and across the streets, reaching every important press company. If you are one of those people, you are probably wondering what the hell is going on.

It all started in the night between April 24th and 25th (many will agree that all of this started way before that, but that was the breaking point of this farce). That night was actually an election night, and while people were waiting for the results, and the government “counted” votes, Savamala district got demolished.

Phantoms from Savamala

The whole story would get little less media attention if nobody was that night in Savamala. By the way, Savamala district is one of the oldest parts of Belgrade, right near the water, and in the recent years, this district became an urban, cultural place where young people and tourists spend their spare time. Savamala is the artistic and urban neighborhood of Belgrade. You would love it!

But, to get back to the story, that night couple of people were in the Savamala. Passersby, residents and even one security guard. Nobody thought anything would happen, but out of nowhere, few people with masks showed up and caught and mistreat several people (who were interfering with their plans), locked them in a shed and guard them while the Savamala district was demolished. The story about masked people came from the mouths of the folks who were allegedly intimidated by the authorities that night.

Government? What Government?

The next day, while the rest of the country was without any information, residents of Belgrade were in shock. The government talked on and on about the results of the elections, and nobody said anything about the demolition. Finally, when the pressure of the public was way too strong, authorities declared they had nothing to do with it.

So the people of Belgrade decided enough is enough. They all stood quietly while the government decided to build Belgrade Waterfront, a cold and business district meant for foreign investors (Google it), but to demolish the whole district for that? Without permission and with people in captivity! No one should be quite when something like that is happening to their city.

Let’s not Drown Our White City

Organization “Ne davimo Beograd” decided to make peaceful protests on the streets of Belgrade. They made a Facebook event and called all the people they know. More than 5 thousand people showed up on the May 11th, the first protest under the name “The Masks Have Fallen”. It looked like when something is important, words spread fast.

The second protest on May 25th under the name “Whose City?” had doubled the number from the previous one! We sure do love our city. People sang, walked, and showed defiance. All the facts about that fatal night in April kept them loud and dissatisfied. And one more. The security guard who was in Savamala in the night between April 24th and 25th died less than months later in the hospital. He was allegedly admitted to hospital because of a pre-cardiac condition, but he died because of problems with digestion after a short treatment. People felt that had to do something with the Savamala, and the government stated that man was an alcoholic with bad health. Both sides had their points, but none of them don’t matter when everyone tries to profit on someone’s death.

Who wouldn’t be mad?

The government now admits they are the ones who demolished the district, but they say no one was hurt or kept in captivity. According to them, men in masks are just a story used against the authorities, not by them. All the objects in the Savamala district were built there illegally and people who built them were criminals. The government is mad too!

Nevertheless, people are ready to go on the streets again. The date is set! New protest under the name “Our City!” is going to happen on June 11th and people are ready to show their frustration and show the government that they cannot be manipulated. If you find yourself on the streets of Belgrade this Saturday and you see thousands of people, pets and kids marching through the boulevards, don’t be scared, they will not harm you. I hope that the other side won’t do that too.


What do you think?

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