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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 12 Midnight), January 8, 1997

    e-mail: beograd@siicom.com      URL: http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/
            odrazb92@b92.opennet.org     http://www.siicom.com/b92/
    All texts are Copyright 1997 Radio B92. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



    Heavy police forces featured as the protagonists of the 50th
    straight day of protests in Belgrade. Dozens of riot squads
    blocked downtown Belgrade at 3 p.m. as Zajedno supporters headed
    for the city center with the intention of blocking it themselves.

    One of Zajedno's leaders and head of the Serbian Renewal Movement,
    Vuk Draskovic addressed the demonstrators from the Democratic
    Party headquarters, accusing the communist-led coalition JUL of
    turning Belgrade into a gulag and deploying riot squads. Draskovic
    nevertheless called on the demonstrators to continue their march.
    The column headed by him and Vesna Pesic, leader of the GSS, was
    stopped by the riot squads after marching not more than several
    hundred meters in one of Belgrade's main avenues. At that point,
    Draskovic addressed both the demonstrators and the policemen who
    had blocked their way. He appealed to the police and explained
    that Zajedno and its supporters were not protesting against the
    police but against the ``thieves among the top state officials.''
    He also said that once the present government is toppled, the
    police will have the task of protecting the citizens and their
    property rather than having to act as somebody's footmen. He urged
    the police to behave as human beings and save their honor. The
    demonstrators then turned back and headed for Republic Square
    where a protest meeting was finally held. Vesna Pesic reminded the
    assembled of the years of hyperinflation Yugoslavia has recently
    experienced and said that the same economic misery is facing the
    country again if the presently ruling clique remains in power.

    The noise-making campaign against the RTS coverage of the events
    in Serbia is to resume tonight. The next Zajedno protest rally
    will be held tomorrow at 3 p.m.


    Having reviewed the electoral minutes from Nis, the Serbian
    Ministry of Justice has concluded that the coalition Zajedno won
    37, the Socialist Party of Serbia 32 and the Radical Party 1 seat
    in the City Assembly of Nis.

    This was announced in a statement issued by the Serbian Ministry
    of Justice after a cabinet session of the Serbian government. The
    statement also said that the government expects the Nis Electoral
    Commission to respect this indisputable fact, reverse its decision
    to call for a fresh round in some polling stations in Nis, and
    publish a final confirmation of electoral results. Thus, the
    Ministry said, all conditions for the constitution of a new Nis
    City Assembly will be fulfilled. The government has also
    instructed the Ministry of Justice to establish the identity of
    those responsible for the irregularities that took place during
    the elections in Nis.


    Zoran Zivkovic, one of the Zajedno leaders in Nis, told Radio B92
    that the statement concerning the elections in Nis issued today by
    the Ministry of Justice is invalid and without any basis in law.

    He further specified: ``The government would have to issue a
    statement citing the true information, the names of those
    responsible for the irregularities, the names of those against
    whom legal action will be brought, and the basis on which they
    [the Government] had established the number of votes cast for this
    or that party. According to the sole relevant data on the
    elections in Nis, and these are the documents held in our
    possession, Zajedno won 41 seats, the Radicals 1, the Socialists
    16 and there are 12 polling stations where balloting must be
    repeated because the Socialists stole the ballots and destroyed
    the electoral minutes.''


    Milan Bozic, a Serbian Renewal Movement MP, told Radio B92 that
    there is no doubt the authorities have begun to cave in after 50
    days of mass protests and the heavy international pressure brought
    to bear on the regime. Referring to the Ministry of Justice
    statement on the elections in Nis, he said that such bargaining is
    of no interest to Zajedno and that the government does not have
    the authority to decide on such issues. Zajedno's main goal is to
    compel the authorities to acknowledge their electoral theft. Only
    then could Zajedno enter into negotiations with them, said Bozic.
    Asked whether the government statement would have the effect of
    thinning out the protests, Bozic said that this was undoubtedly
    its aim. He added that the protests will grow since their target
    are not only the numerous instances of local electoral fraud but
    also the entire present system of government in FR Yugoslavia,
    which belongs to the dump heap of history.


    Writing in today's issue of the International Herald Tribune, Paul
    Williams and Norman Cigar call on the Hague Tribunal to indict
    Slobodan Milosevic immediately in the interests of democracy in
    Serbia and of peace in the Balkans, reports for FoNet Mirko
    Klarin. The indictment could be brought on 3 grounds: Milosevic
    could be indicted as directly responsible for the genocide
    perpetrated by the military and paramilitary forces under his
    official or effective control; he could be prosecuted as an
    accomplice in the war crimes; and finally on the grounds that he
    did not prevent or prosecute against the crimes he knew of or had
    a duty to know.

    The article offers a review of a book-length study on Milosevic's
    responsibility which was ordered by the Balkans Institute in
    Washington and recently published in London. In their preface to
    the study, the authors say they based their study strictly on the
    legal framework of the Hague Statute, Rules of Procedure and
    Evidence as well as on the current indictments by the Hague
    Tribunal. They say they equally strictly relied on sources
    available to the general public: reports by the local and foreign
    media, public statements by the commanders of paramilitary groups,
    statements by state and party officials, a number of generals and
    some officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army. The Hague
    Tribunal has refused to comment on this article as it claims not
    to be familiar with it. The tribunal's only reply so far is that
    indictments are legal decisions, based on satisfactory evidence,
    and not on political timing or the consequences they might have.


    Although the Clinton Administration is fully aware that President
    Milosevic is using delay tactics and playing for time, Washington
    will probably wait for the OSCE's official position on Belgrade's
    response to its recommendations, expected on January 16, before it
    makes any further moves to condemn the Serbian regime. The US
    Administration, however, expects that the protests going on all
    over Serbia will end up in Milosevic's caving in to the demands by
    the opposition and the students. Washington's optimism is based on
    the statement made by the Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff after his
    recent meeting with the student delegation, reports for FoNet
    Slobodan Pavlovic.


    Today's protest rally by several thousand demonstrators in Nis,
    assembled on the streets despite the city's extremely poor weather
    conditions today, was also attended by Zoran Djindjic, leader of
    the Democratic Party. Addressing the protesters, Djindjic said
    that after 52 days of marathon democratic protests, victory is
    finally on the horizon. He stressed that an overall
    democratization of the political system and the liberation of the
    state-dominated media are the two fundamental conditions for the
    protests to stop. He underlined that the opposition's main goal is
    a thorough-going reform of the country and Serbia's return to the
    world of Europe and the international community as a whole.

    Vice-president of the Democratic Party in Nis Zoran Zivkovic, who
    also spoke at the rally, said that a high ranking Socialist
    official has provided him with a copy of the falsified polling
    minutes, the key evidence for the Zajedno allegations that
    electoral fraud had taken place in Nis. He also said that Zajedno
    headquarters in Nis have received a note from the Supreme Court of
    Serbia to the effect that the Socialist Party in Nis has withdrawn
    its request asking the Supreme court to examine the Nis Municipal
    Court ruling which had granted the disputed seats to Zajedno.


    Spokesman for the Student Protest 96/97 Dusan Vasiljevic told a
    press conference today that students will begin their vigil in
    front of the riot squad cordons in Belgrade until they leave the
    streets. Nine divisions of at least 100 students each will take
    shifts standing in front of the cordons. Different schools will
    organize their specific happenings: the School of Philology
    students will read poetry to the policemen, while their medical
    counterparts will lecture the riot squads on the bad effects their
    70 lb. riot gear has on the spine. Vasiljevic also announced a
    meeting of the Student Protest of Serbia on January 11, which will
    gather representatives of all cities in which student protests are
    being held.


    Radio B92 has learned from reliable sources that Rector of the
    UofB Dragutin Velickovic today instructed the deans of all
    university schools to resume teaching immediately so as to make up
    for the time lost during the protests. In his fax today,
    Velickovic specifically demanded that records be taken of
    students' future absences from lectures. The Rector has also
    banned the use of posters that do not refer to teaching anywhere
    on the university premises.


    Spokesman for JUL Ivan Markovic told a press conference today that
    the recent explosion at the JUL headquarters in Belgrade is ``one
    in a series of acts of organized violence, aimed at spreading fear
    and insecurity among the citizens and destabilizing the country.''
    Emphasizing that this was the 5th bomb attack against member
    parties of the left coalition, he accused Zajedno of terrorism
    supported and funded by foreign powers.


    President of the Republic of Srpska Biljana Plavsic recently
    stated that the demonstrators in Serbia are protesting against ``a
    totalitarian regime which has ruined Serbs,'' reports news agency

    The fact that people all over Serbia have been demonstrating for
    almost two months now, Plavsic said, goes to show that the
    protests are not a matter of party or ideological differences.
    They are a clear indication that the people of Serbia people want
    to get rid of the yoke they've been straining against for many
    years now. She told Serb Radio that she supports the students in
    Serbia because until now student protests have taken place only at
    those times when the fundamental values of the nation and the
    state are in jeopardy, as is the case with freedom and democracy


    According to Western diplomats in Zagreb, Croatian President
    Franjo Tudjman has for some time now been absent from the public
    eye and doubts are mounting that he is critically ill with cancer
    and will have to leave office in a few months, reports Reuters.
    Croatian independent press has said that his health condition is
    far worse than has officially been claimed, and that he has just a
    few months left. In the light of the forthcoming elections in
    Croatia, analysts wonder who could take his place. There have been
    speculations that Tudjman's ruling party, whose popularity has
    gone down lately, might decide to change the constitution and
    simply skip calling the elections.

    Prepared by: Aleksandra Scepanovic
    Edited by: Vaska Andjelkovic (Tumir)

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    e-mail: beograd@siicom.com      URL: http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/
            odrazb92@b92.opennet.org     http://www.siicom.com/b92/

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