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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Several thousands of Serbs protest against Milosevic

By Bernhard Küppers

Belgrade - After eight weeks of NATO air attacks resistance against the regime of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic is rising among the population. In Serbia, demonstrations against military service in Kosovo were continued. The Belgrade regime's television stations and newspapers ignored the reports about protests in the villages of Krusevac, Aleksandrovac und Cacak. The army threatened "organisers" with severe punishment because of "weakening of the nation's defense, treason and direct collaboration with the enemy."

In Krusevac, 200 kilometres south of Belgrade, the number of protesters grew from 3000 on Monday to 6000 on Tuesday. Six persons were arrested, as the Belgrade agency V.I.P. reported. They demanded anew to send no more soldiers to Kosovo and to end the war with NATO. Stones and eggs were thrown against the Town Hall. Later on, the police intervened. A smaller crowd gathered one more time and damaged the house of Mayor Miloje Mihajlovic, a representative of Milosevic's Socialist Party. He was said to have advised the protesters to address the military authorities.

Also in Aleksandrovac, west of Krusevac, a thousand persons were rallying on Tuesday. On Monday, the socialist Mayor of the village and his security officers had been attacked. The protest was caused by the fact that last Friday ten dead soldiers and an even greater number of wounded soldiers had been brought to Aleksandrovac and Krusevac. As a reaction to this, relatives of the soldiers had protested on Monday against enlistment in or return into military service. They also demanded to be given more information about the area where the soldiers would be implemented.

It is said that last Tuesday there was a demonstration in Cacak, in favour of an end the war with NATO. The local army commander in Krusevac declared on local television that on Monday and Tuesday a "gathering of civilians, demanding the homecoming of their relatives from army units had been organised" and that it had changed into a "subversive demonstration". The organisers were said to have "abused the best feelings of parents." A charge was said to have been made against the organisers, as the law on the war situation prescribes.

Several dozens of supporters of the regime rallied last Wednesday against the oppositional Democratic Parry of Zoran Djindjic in front of its quarters in Belgrade. The day before, unknown persons had smashed windows of the villa and and smeared the front with read paint. The demonstration was organised by a "patriotic alliance". "This is your blood", it was written on the villa. Djindjic is staying in Montenegro. The state television supported the assaults by means of interviews with allegedly coincidental passers-by. "This happens rightly to them after all their declarations", one passer-by said on television. "They should house Serbian refugees from Kosovo here."

Meanwhile, the state media increased their attacks on Djindjic and on the pro-western president of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, and reported about demands for a high treason trial against both.

Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung

Translation: Heleen Ransijn

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