More than 60 people have been arrested in Pristina, after police dispersed a crowd of protesters using pepper spray and batons. Demonstrators were rallying against the sell-off of a state energy firm, some allegedly tried to storm a government building.
On Wednesday the Kosovan government sold KEDS – a power distribution company that provides energy for 400,000 people – to Turkish companies Calik Holding and Limak, for 26.3 million euros. But KEDS owes the Turkish investors debts estimated at hundreds of millions of euros.
Despite the new owners promising to keep on staff and invest 300 million into Albanian Kosovo’s dilapidated energy sector, the sale sparked immediate outrage from the country’s opposition nationalist party, Vetevendosje.
The party accused the government of underselling “Kosovo’s national wealth” in a shady deal, motivated by a desire to cover short-term debts.
Vetevendosje members gathered outside the government building in the capital Pristina, shouting slogans and bearing placards. As police dressed in riot gear surrounded them, some tried to hold onto the railings of the fence around the building, while others climbed over it and tried to storm the entrance.
Police eventually managed to bring the situation under control, and led away the rowdiest protesters.
“Our wealth is going and all we’ll be left with is EU visa liberalization and a way to leave the country, because this boat is sinking,” said party leader and parliament deputy Albin Kurti after the tumultuous rally.
Kosovo’s police officers arrest a member of the Self-Determination opposition party during a protest against the signing deal for the privatisation of the electricity distribution network in Pristina
Leader of the Self-Determination opposition party Albin Kurtin (C) is surrounded by Kosovo’s police officers in front of the parliament building during a protest against the signing deal for the privatization of the electricity distribution network in Pristina.(AFP Photo / STR)
A police officer attempts to arrest a protester (L) in front of a government building in Pristina.(Reuters / Hazir Reka)
Police officers arrest a protester in front of a government building in Pristina.(Reuters / Hazir Reka)
A police officer stands behind a police barricade in front of the government building in Pristina.(Reuters / Hazir Reka)