Thousands of people have protested in Serbia for a fourth consecutive week over what they say has been a stifling of democratic freedoms under President Aleksandar Vucic.

Demonstrators marched through central Belgrade on Saturday, carrying banners, blowing whistles and chanting “Vucic thief!” while blocking downtown traffic.

Government opponents say Vucic has imposed tight controls on mainstream media and sidelined critical voices. Vucic has denied the allegations.

The protests started after thugs beat up an opposition politician last month. Government opponents say the attack resulted from hate speech fostered by Vucic’s administration.

The recent street demonstrations have been one of the biggest expressions of discontent with the current Serbian government.

A former extreme nationalist, Vucic has said he wants to lead Serbia into the European Union.

People hold a banner that reads: ''#1out of 5 million'' during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (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, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
People march during a protest against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A man from opponents group shows picture of Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian-Serb nationalist who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, during a protest march against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A man from opponents group shows picture of Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian-Serb nationalist who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, during a protest march against populist President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Source: The Associated Press