For more than 40 days students and citizens of Belgrade are demonstrating against Slobodan Milosevic. For those who, perhaps, already lost the initial argument: protest begun after Milosevic controlled electoral commission refused to accept the results of November 17 elections in which members of the opposition coalition "Zajedno" won several key cities in Serbia.
Artists in Belgrade are rushing to make Milosevic's "black lists" by appearing and performing at "Zajedno" and Student Protest manifestations, or by refusing to perform at state venues. Rade Serbedzija, for example, a Zagreb artist who earlier made Tudjman's black list when he moved to Belgrade, now is busy making Milosevic's black lists. Bora Djordjevic, whose hard rock band was once so popular in Croatia, that a teenage girl died being run over by a mob of fans (she fell) rushing into the Zagreb Hall of Sports to see the concert, later became a grey-haired, pot-bellied Serbian nationalist singer, and now he is seen among the blacklisted artists, too.
In recent days Milosevic's police packed automatic weapons and often resorted to violence. A student got shot by a pro-government demonstrant. Police broke several heads of peaceful demonstrants. Journalists got beaten. Cameras were smashed.
There is no walking any more - except for stomping in place or walking around the square. Police declared walking as an obstruction of traffic.
Talking about traffic: Volkswagen Passat B5 was just voted for The Car of 1997 in Serbia. Fahrvegnuegen. And elections were not contested by Milosevic. After all, he bought his son a Ferrari, not a Yugo for graduation, underlying Serbia's desperate industrial dependency on the Western products.
Meanwhile the voice of West is unambiguous - CSCE continues to repeat the American message: dear Slobo, either you accept the November 17 results in all electoral districts and respect the freedom of the press, or we put the sanctions back in effect, have a nice day now.
Conspicuously omitting to attack the U.S. for such a brazen meddling in the Serbia's internal stuff, the group of high ranking Yugoslav Army officers (from APO Nis, Vranje, Pirot, Zajecar, Urosevac and Pristina) sent a polite but decisive warning open letter to Momcilo Perisic (the YA commander): "This a historic moment: probably the last train for Serbia. We should get on or we might perish. ... Long live Serbia! Long live Serbian people! We are firmly with our people." While this may be interpreted ambivalently, the open letter to Slobodan Milosevic says clearly: "To you from your officers whom you humiliated and denigrated so many times, particularly during the war in 91/92, for which [war] you are partially responsible: get to your senses and stand by your people."
With Montenegrin government cautiously mentioning their own currency, this is a very important development. First - this letter sends a signal that military has no intentions to serve Milosevic in crushing the protests as it did back in March 1991. Second - it signals that military may be ready to take things in their hands: a temporary military rule to "restore order"? Milosevic should cleverly review this letter. Relying only on his police force may put him where it put Caucescu - six feet under.
Imagine CNN Headlines in a month: a top Serbian Military Court sentenced ex-Serbian president to death. Obviously, I see many unhappy Bosnian and Croat readers: Milosevic, an important witness - dead, and Army saves face. A lot of them would rather see Serbia perish together with Yugoslav Army, anyway, after Vukovar and Sarajevo. Indeed, would a coup d'etat mean that generals would get an easy ride through the war crimes investigation for helping the West to get rid of Milosevic, whom they found partially responsible for the war?
Meanwhile, a man whom many regard as the father of contemporary Serbian nationalism, a writer whose thoughts were appropriated by Slobodan Milosevic for his first populist political platform, Dobrica Cosic, won the top Yugoslav literary award for his new book. As if it was not his intellectual judgment, also, partially responsible for the war, or as if that does not matter, since Slobo will be forced to take all the partial blame.
This is a very important test for students. It is actually a required course. How would they deal with this sudden, although rather chilling, support? Failing this exam is not going to be forgiven, and there probably will not be a second chance. Hopefully, they will find a right way.