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Albania. Former president and opposition leader Sali Berisha attacked during an anti-government demonstration in Tirana

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The leader of the opposition Albanian Democratic Party and former president of Albania, Sali Berisha, was attacked during an anti-government protest in Tirana. The attacker punched the 78-year-old politician in the face. The police caught the aggressor. It was reported that he already had a record and was struggling with mental problems.

Sali Berisha led a march of several hundred that passed by the grounds where the European Union-Western Balkans Summit was held on Tuesday in Tirana. The demonstrators protested against the policies of Edi Rama’s government, blaming it for the rising cost of living and the mass emigration of young Albanians to Western Europe. They also demanded early elections and accused the prime minister of corruption.

During the procession, one of the men stepped out of the crowd and punched Berisha in the face. The former president’s supporters dragged the attacker away and beat him. He was later arrested by the police, Reuters reported. Despite the assault, Berisha turned to his supporters with a bloody face. In his speech, he accused Prime Minister Rama of planning an attack against himself.

Sali Berisha returned to protest after the attackReuters

At a later conference, the former president stated: “It was an aggressive and criminal act by a person who meets all the conditions to be the one who is being used (by the authorities).

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Sali Berisha at the conferenceReuters

Police said the assailant was a 31-year-old man who suffers from mental health problems and has previously been charged in violent crime and drug trafficking cases.

Berisha was the president Albania in 1992-1997 and prime minister in 2005-2013. He heads the centre-right Albanian Democratic Party, the main opposition force to Rama’s ruling Albanian Socialist Party since 2013.

In 2021, the U.S. State Department found that Berisha had been involved in “corruption cases undermining democracy” while in office and banned him from entering the United States. In the same year, the British authorities took a similar step.

Main photo source: Reuters

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