Thousands are gathering in Belgrade for a mass rally in support of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who is seeking to counter months of protests demanding more democratic freedoms in the Balkan country.

Authorities have sealed off central streets in the capital Friday as Vucic’s supporters arrive in buses from all over the country, neighboring Bosnia and Kosovo. In live broadcasts, the dominant pro-government media are lambasting opposition officials as “fascist and thieves.”

Vucic has promised a “carnival atmosphere” at the rally he describes as Serbia’s biggest in decades.

Supporters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wave flags during ''The Future of Serbia'' major rally to counter months of anti-government protests demanding his resignation, free elections and media freedoms, in Belgrade, Serbia, April 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Supporters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wave flags during ”The Future of Serbia” major rally to counter months of anti-government protests demanding his resignation, free elections and media freedoms, in Belgrade, Serbia, April 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Anti-government demonstrators have been demanding free and fair elections and more media freedoms and have accused the president of autocratic tendencies.

Vucic formally advocates joining the European Union, but has remained pro-Russian since his ultranationalist past.

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