By DUSAN STOJANOVIC
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Trying to defuse large protests by environmentalists, Serbia’s populist government has decided to suspend two key laws that would help mining giant Rio Tinto launch a lithium mine in western Serbia. For two consecutive weekends, thousands of protesters in Belgrade and elsewhere have blocked main roads and bridges to decry the planned lithium mine. The protests are the biggest challenge yet to the increasingly autocratic rule of President Aleksandar Vucic. Activists were angry that Serbian authorities lowered a referendum threshold on major projects and wrote another law on expropriating private property at major construction projects. Activists argue this would pave the way for Rio Tinto to quickly launch the lithium mine. Serbia said Wednesday those laws will be suspended.