Police and protesters in Albania have scuffled in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama‘s office in Tirana after tens of thousands of people gathered there to protest against corruption and the country’s cost of living crisis.
After demonstrating peacefully for about three hours, protesters broke through police cordons around Rama’s office on Saturday and sprayed red and black paint on the main doors to the government building.
Police arrested one protester.
Others lit candles in memory of two men that, according to the opposition, died while in police custody.
Albania has seen an 8 percent price hike this year, especially for basic food and fuel, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Rama says his Cabinet has kept inflation low compared with double-digit inflation elsewhere in Europe, and has noted that the government subsidises electricity for families and small businesses.
Opposition supporters have also blamed Rama for the thousands of young men who leave the country each year in search of a better life.
“Just as 32 years ago, the world sees us as people [arriving in] small boats,” said Sali Berisha, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, referring to the increasing number of Albanians reaching the United Kingdom.
The protest is seen in Albania as an attempt by Berisha to flex his muscles before local elections in May 2023.
Berisha, who has previously served both as president and prime minister, was barred in 2021 from entering the United States over alleged corruption.
He denies any wrongdoing.