BANJALUKA – Republika Srpska (RS) is a state, and it is capable of defending itself by democratic means, RS President Milorad Dodik said in Banjaluka at Saturday’s pro-government rally titled “With our hearts for Srpska – Stop the treason.”

“Today we are defending the RS from internal treason, and treason is when you go to Sarajevo to nod approvingly, when you dare not defend the RS in Sarajevo, or dare not say that you love Serbia,” Dodik said.

The Serbs have learned that freedom equals a state and that there is no freedom without a state, Dodik said.

“The RS must be respected, it has a life of its own,” Dodik said, noting that the RS – the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) – is not a factor of disturbance and that it should not be perceived as a threat to others.

Commenting on a simultaneous opposition gathering held nearby, Dodik said that the RS has shown that two rallies conveying differing political messages can be held on the same day within a kilometre of each other without clashes or harm done to anyone, Dodik said.

The opposition rally, titled “Let us free Srpska”, ended peacefully after Serbian Democratic Party leader Mladen Bosic read out six demands that included calling early presidential and parliamentary elections, forming an interim government and shedding light on politically-motivated assassinations and corruption scandals.

RS and BiH police had stepped up security in Banjaluka amid reports that extremist groups and individuals could instigate riots.

RS Interior Minister Dragan Lukac said that the police denied entry to 150 people from neighbouring Serbia who were intent on causing riots.