Dačić: Police will protect pride parade

BELGRADE -- Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said that the police will uphold public order and safety during the gay pride parade, expected to take place on September 20.

“In this country, no one is allowed to threaten or bother anyone,” Dačić said, adding that the event will be laden with safety risks and that police will do everything they can to ensure order and safety.

The Pride Parade 2009 organizational committee said it supported the minister’s statement, as the first clear public comment giving a guarantee that police will do everything to secure the event.

Dačić said that while signing the protocol on Tuesday on a donation from the city assembly to Belgrade police, that the joint goal of police and the city is to make Belgrade a place where personal and property security are guaranteed for all citizens, "and where police are always ready to help in emergency situations".

Belgrade Mayor Dragan Đilas said that city workers have started painting over graffiti that express threats to participants in the parade, "because it is necessary for everyone to feel safe".

He said that there are small groups that are hiding behind football supporter groups, and who use any kind of public gathering as a chance to cause riots.

Several weeks ago, the graffiti that appeared all over Belgrade threatened gay and lesbian population and those who plan on participating in the parade.

“The organizational committee informed the Interior Ministry of a study done by Zoran Dragišić of the Security University and his colleagues with an analysis of the situation and recommendations for organizing the Pride Parade,” a member of the committee, Milica Đorđević, told B92, and added that the analysis was presented to top MUP officials.

Đorđević said that cooperation with the police is at a high level, that they understand the possible risks and that they have started having operative meetings, "in order for all the security aspects to be planned in time".

MUP officials are prepared to coordinate with the organizational committee to make sure that everything will go safely on September 20.

“Our police and its administration have experience and have already demonstrated to the citizens that they can protect them when necessary,” Đorđević said.

The organizers hope that the city will be interest in cooperation with the parade just as much as the police, human and minority rights ministry, ombudsman, and non-governmental organizations are interested.

The organizational committee asked to meet with Mayor Đilas two weeks ago, but has not heard from his office yet.