By Bart Rijs.
BELGRADE - The Serbian police has treated to stop the daily demonstrations against Milosevic. This weekend between 100- and 150 thousand people went on the street. The highest number so far.
De Serbian state-TV, controlled by Milosevic, declared sunday
evening that the demonstrations contain 'violent elements' and that
'serious crimes' are committed. The broadcast seems to be a
preparation for police intervention.
The state-media have been silent since the beginning (now two weeks ago). For the first time images were shown extensively, like egg throwing to governmentbuildings and smashing windows.
In a special tv-broadcast Dragan Tomic (chairman of the Serbian parliament and one of Milosevic adjudants) accused the opposition. 'This are violent demonstrations, with all the criteria of fascistic groups and their ideas'. He said that Zajedno (together) is aiming to get into power by violence, since the elections failed. 'They try to make Beiroet out of Belgrade'.
The daily demonstrations against Milosevic, the biggest since he became president, in 1989, started after Milosevic declared the elections invalid in the places where the opposition has won. Except the regular egg-throwing to the buildings of the government and state- media and a few firecracker, paintbombs and stones, the demonstrations were quietly. Zajedno asked the demonstrators to be calm and the police did not intervene.
This weekend opposition leader Zoran Djindjic declared the protest would be extended to a number of other cities in Yugoslavia. 'A compromise is impossible,' he said saturday evening to the demonstrators. 'We will defend our election-result till the end.' The opposition announced they will take over the
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The Serbian authorities did arrest several demonstrators and
accused them of violent actions. According to the opposition coalition
10 people were arrested. Among them was a executive of Zajedno from
Belgrade. According to the BBC, two protesting students were arrested
Saturday evening and were mishandled during hours of interrogation.
The charismatic opposition-leader Vuk Draskovic declared on the
independent-radio-station B92 that the opposition would not be stopped
by the threads of the authorities. 'The is a invitation to demonstrate
more numerous, with more bravery and with more calmness. We won't be
provoked and will win without using violence.
In the meanwhile western diplomates try to prevent a confrontation between the opposition and the authorities. They hope Milosevic will recognize the election-victory of the opposition in some way. There are signs that the president is not totally unsensitive for international pressure.. Milosovic's party, Socialistic Party Serbia, has accepted the election-defeat in the big cities and would be prepared to get rid of some hated party-barons.
But the position of Milosevic would certainly weaken when he would loose the power over the capitals government, meaning also loosing the power over common companies, institutions and the media. The opposition sees Belgrade as the stepping stone towards the power over the whole of Serbia.
The wave of political protests in Serbia has put the 44-year-old philosopher Zoran Djindjic in the picture as the true leader of the Serbian opposition and the most important opponent of Slobodan Milosevic. Djindjic is a sharp pragmatic man and a good organizer. And he is thirsty for power.
Already for two weeks he shows up in the window-ledge of a block of
flats in Belgrade every evening. And every evening more than a hundred
thousand sing to him 'Zoran, they can lick your ass!'
Already in the seventies Zoran Djindjic was as a student involved in the opposition against Tito. When he tried to found an independent student-organization he was brought to court for stealing the book Aristoteles' Metaphysica from the book-store. He left for Germany, took his doctoral degree by the philosopher Habermas, went into business and earned enough money for an easy life.
When Serbia, in 1990, started the more-party-system, Djindjic became one of the founders of centrum-liberal Democratic Party (DS). He showed to be a skilled politician, also to be a good organizer, which is a rare talent in the Balkans. He was the only one, who understood that so far the Belgrade opposition had only been 'a Belgrade saloon'. When he in 1994 took over the leadership of the DS he increased the number of department from 84 to 600. He formed a widely spread, quite well organized internal-party-system, which made it possible for him to have a campaign, without needing the television, which belongs to Milosevic.
With his standard black sweater, his boy-like openness and smooth way of speaking he is totally different from Milosevic. Still their way of practising politics has a lot of similarities. Both are thirsty for power. 'Politics is a drug', Djindjic admitted to a Serbian magazine. 'After a certain doses, there are no borders any more, it keeps you in ecstasy all the time'.
And both of them are sharp pragmaticians, who change their policy at the moment it can make their position better. As long as Milosevic behaved like a champion of Big-Serbia, Djindjic was a pro-western- liberal; when Milosevic swear off nationalism, Djindjic accused him of betray to the Serbian-cause. The oppositionleader has always claimed that practising politics in Serbia is impossible without some degree of nationalism. 'But that doesn't equal chauvinism', he invariably adds.
Djindjic says that the opposition won't tamper with the international commitments of Serbia, including the Dayton-agreements. Still western diplomates look at him suspiciously. The DS had close contacts with the Serbs in Bosnia and spoke out their support for Karadzic in July.
In front of the rest of the opposition, Djindjic felt that the Serbs had enough of the dark side of the war, the sanctions and the terribly economic policy. He started to talked about the widely spread corruption among the authorities, the muzzling of the media and the need for economic reformation, hoping to get the poor-made middle- class from the big cities on his side.
This spring he succeeded in welding together the till that moment desperately divided opposition to Zajedno (together). The coalition had a big defeat in the election for the federal parliament, but Djindjic concentrated his campaign mainly on the municipal elections and the mayorship of Belgrade. 'That's the stepping stone to the power.', he said. At the moments his strategy started to workout and Zajedno in thirteen of the fifteen big cities claimed the victory, the elections were declared 'invalid' because of 'irregularities'. Djindjic was able to canalize the anger of the people to the biggest protest against Milosevic, since he became president of Serbia. Together with the charismatic, but capricious Vuk Draskovic and the pro-western Vesna Pesic, he leads the fifty- to a hundred-and-fifty- thousand Serbs, who daily walk through the centre of Belgrade. Djindjic put the Serbian president in a difficult position as a dictator and Djindjic provoked protests from EU and the US.
Djindjic tries to keep on putting pressure on Milosevic, by extending the protests to provence-capitals. But Milosevic hold out and placed Djindjic for a dilemma. Will he continue protesting, then the chance on a violent confrontation will grow on. Or will he end the protests, then there is a chance Zajedno will break and he will suffer a defeat, from which it will be very hard to recover.
He seems to hope that the West won't wait so long. 'The
international community, especially governments from England, France
and the US, have to force Milosevic to undo the electionfalsificati-
on', said Djindjic saturday after he urged the crowd of
demonstrators not to give up. 'Otherwise we will end up with
radicalism and violence.'
Even revolutions aren't what they used to be, since there is
internet. The times of illegal printing-presses in wet cellars,
seditious pamphlets spread by revolutionaries in duffle coats, are
over. The students of Belgrade University agitate per homepage
(http://www.galeb.etf.bg.ac.yu/~protest96) against the Serbian
president Milosevic. [Use the mirrors, see menu]
Evening after evening the newsreader of the Serbian television summarizes with a long face the soporific activities of the statesmen, explaining about the visits of official delegations and especially about cutting through of endless numbers of ribbons.
What about the protests - which protest? Even when already for two weeks every day, a hundred-thousand people demonstrate against Milosevic, because he falsified the local elections, the media act as if nothing is going on.
Radio B92, from which the weak transmitter only reaches the centre of Belgrade, was the only one who reported the anger of the people. But since Thursday the one thing one can only hear on the frequency of B92 is ear-splitting noise. The authorities have a disturbance-transmitter in a small bus driving through town, to make the broadcast impossible.
Via the world wide web students of the faculty of electro-technics try to break the media-blocking. The symbol of their homepage is an egg, which is the most beloved weapon of the students. On the homepage are shown pictures of the demonstrations, which should show ignorant Serbia how numerous the demonstrators are, a report on the egg bombardment, the next-days program and a list of demands.
From the whole world they receive solidarity e-mails, even from countries with whom Serbia was recently in war. Canada wishes 'Courage and Strength', New-Zealand 'stays with heard and soul on your side'. 'Fight for your right' encourages the United States.
Former Serbs, lots of them emigrated to far-away countries after the break-down of the students protest five years ago, admit that they think it's a shame they can't throw a few eggs themselves.
With over two-thousand hits on the first day of it's existence the protest-homepage is a success. The Belgrade students are even listed on the CNN-homepage.
On second thoughts the homepage opens the door to an unsuspected network of subversive sites full of information about anti-Milosevic demonstrations: weekly papers, newspapers and civil-groups, which are muzzled by the regime, have found an opportunity to escape to the Internet.
But probably most readers of the protest-homepage live abroad. In Serbia a vulgar computer already fulfil people with respect and fear, let alone that they know what internet is. The students, full of revolutionary fire, say that every stone they can scull from the wall, build by the authorities to stop information, is one.