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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service

    Odraz B92 vesti (by 10 PM), January 23, 1997

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

    NEWS BY 10 PM


    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
    offered on Thursday to mediate between the Serbian Government and
    opposition so as to help solve the dispute over the voided local
    election results. Reuters reported on Thursday that Danish Foreign
    Minister Nils and chair of the OSCE Helveg Petersen stated that
    this was decided in a meeting they had held with the Swiss and
    Pole Foreign Ministers, the former and the future chairs of the
    OSCE. He also said that any dialogue with representatives from the
    Serbian Government and the opposition would begin in Vienna, where
    the OSCE's headquarters are. Mr Petersen stressed that the OSCE
    would insist that the Serbian Government respects the November
    local election results. He also said that the OSCE would consult
    both the government and opposition representatives to determine
    how it could help the democratic process in Serbia, FoNet


    The first clash between the police and citizens of Kragujevac
    occurred onThursday at 16:30 hours. Zajedno supporters from
    Kragujevac blocked the entrance to the Belgrade-Nis motorway. They
    refused to let a bus carrying Kragujevac policemen returning from
    Belgrade pass. The policemen got off the bus and started beating
    the citizens. Four casualties were reported. Negotiations between
    the representatives of Kragujevac council and the Serbian Ministry
    of Information over the issue of the management of the local radio
    television were concluded on Thursday at 18:00 hours Kragujevac
    council offered the Serbian Government a compromise, saying that
    if the new management of the local radio television were allowed
    to enter their offices and the police left the building they had
    occupied on Wednesday, the city government guaranteed that the
    civil protests in front of the building would cease. The council
    also offered to wait for the Economic Court in Belgrade to resolve
    the dispute when its decision is published on February 3.


    Instead of the expected reply from the Serbian Government,
    Kragujevac council received a telex from Dragoljub Milanovic,
    General Manager of [state] Radio Television Serbia (RTS) on
    Thursday. The telex invited the newly appointed General Manager of
    Radio Television Kragujevac (RTK), Vidosav Stevanovic and Mayor of
    Kragujevac, Veroljub Stevanovic to come to Belgrade for talks on
    Friday. Mr Milanovic claimed that the Serbian Ministry of
    Information, whose representatives came for negotiations in
    Kragujevac on Thursday, had nothing to do with it. He stressed
    that this was an issue exclusively between the RTS, Kragujevac
    council and RTK's General Manager. The General Manager of RTK
    stated on Thursday that he would accept the invitation to avoid
    breaking off the negotiations and dialogue.


    Students of the UofB expressed their support for the citizensof
    Kragujevac on Thursday, protesting at the take-over of local radio
    and television by the ``united forces of police and the RTS.'' The
    student statement ofsupport said they hoped that citizens of
    Kragujevac would persevere in fighting for the independence of
    their radio and television station. The statement urged that the
    protestors resist any provocation from the Serbian Government and
    keep their protest peaceful.


    Zajedno supporters in Nis blocked the Belgrade-Nis motorway at the
    pay-toll near their city for an hour on Thursday. Although the
    riot police on the spot far out-numbered the Zajedno supporters,
    no incidents occurred. The traffic was also blocked within the
    city for a longer period.


    Police maltreated and arrested a cameraman and a sound technician
    from the Televsion Associated Press in Kragujevac on Thursday. The
    two were trying to film the riot police assaulting the

    Federal MP for the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, Zoran
    Simovic was taken to the neurosurgery department of the Hospital
    in Kragujevac after being beaten by the police in Thursday's
    clashes in Kragujevac, according to Beta news agency.

    Radio B92 learned on Thursday that there had been some 16
    casualties with minor injuries in Kragujevac. Beta news agency
    reports a statement from the Democratic Party (DS) on Thursday
    claiming that during the road-blocking police had beaten Serbian
    Renewal Movement(SPO) MP for Kraljevo, Marko Petrovic and arrested
    Dragan Nikolic Feman, the DS party chairman in Jagodina According
    to information sent to Radio B92 from Kragujevac through the
    Internet, some 50 riot police and a bulldozer were used to
    ``clear'' theentrance to the motor-way during the road-block
    action on Thursday. A 10-metre police cordon swept the road,
    beating everybody in its path.

    Chancellor of Belgrade's University of Arts, Darinka Matic
    Marovic, together with the Deans of the University's four arts
    departments urged Serbian Interior Minister Zoran Sokolovic to
    order the immediate withdrawal of the riot police cordon in front
    of the students and to end the meaningless blockade of Belgrade,
    newsagency Beta reported on Thursday.

    The Supreme Court of Serbia on Thursday rejected an application by
    the First Municipal Court in Belgrade for another court to be
    appointed to hear the Socialist and Radical appeals against the
    decision by the BelgradeElectoral Commission.


    The leaders of the opposition coalition Zajedno called on all
    citizens onThursday to express their solidarity with the students
    who have been facing police cordons for days. ``All our words and
    speeches cannot come close to the three days and three nights of
    the student stand in front of the police,'' Vuk Draskovic, one of
    theZajedno leaders, told the tens of thousands of Zajedno
    supporters gathered in Belgrade's Repbulic Square on Thursday. He
    urged the citizens to overcome fear, for ``they [Serbian
    Goverment] have neither as many policemen nor as many prison cells
    as there are of us.'' Zoran Djindjic, another Zajedno leader, said
    that there would be no bargaining with the regime, and that the
    Serbian Government will have to face the consequences if it fails
    to recognize the November election results. He stressed it was
    essential that the ``democratic rebellion'' took place in all
    places and in all forms of resistance, adding that the government
    would be toppled by work, persistence, patience and intelligence.
    Thursday's protest meeting was opened by an address from the
    members of a delegation from the German Parliament and closed by a
    ``march'' through the pedestrian Knez Mihajlova Street.


    Your Excellency,

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express
    its deep distress about today's beating of an Associated Press
    Television crew member. CPJ is also greatly concerned about other
    police violence in Kragujevac where opposition supporters in the
    city are protesting police resistance to the transfer of
    Kragujevac's radio and television stations to its newly-elected
    city officials. Reporters at the Associated Press Television
    bureau in Belgrade told CPJ that Srdjan Nedeljkovic, a soundman
    from AP TV and Dejan Mladenovic, an AP TV cameraman were stationed
    by barricades outside of the city where police were blocking
    entrance to the city's center. The crew were recording scenes of
    demonstrators when officers yelled at them to stop filming. When
    they did not comply, police struck Nedeljkovic in the stomach with
    a baton and threatened Mladenovic by waving a baton in his face.
    The officers then confiscated the journalists' video tape and
    drove them to the local Kragujevac police station where they were
    detained for 45 minutes. They were subsequently released unharmed,
    but without their video. Meanwhile, police remained barricaded
    inside the city's media offices to prevent demonstrators from
    entering. Tonight journalists and other demonstrators plan to
    stand against police barricades in front of the media buildings
    from midnight until dawn to protest the police cordon Kati Marton,
    chair of CPJ, wrote to you on January 15, 1997, about the
    importance of developing an independent public television channel
    in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The Committee
    believes this step is essential to ensure the complete editorial
    independence of radio and television news coverage. In addition to
    a state-wide independent public channel, today's events
    demonstrate the need to authorize local municipalities to grant
    broadcasting licenses. As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to
    defending the rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ
    condemns the beating and censorship of the AP reporters in
    Kragujevac. Further, CPJ respectfully urges you to find a rapid,
    peaceful, and legal remedy to the issue of public radio and
    television broadcasting in the municipalities of FRY.Yugoslav
    taxpayers support broadcasting through mandatory television
    subscriptions in their electric bills and they have the right to
    demand greater independence and diversity in news programming.
    Furthermore, the current state monopoly over television
    broadcasting runs counter to the notion of a free media-which you
    have pledged to support. Thank you for your attention. We welcome
    your comments

    Sincerely, William A. Orme, Jr
    Executive Director


    MPs from the Serbian Radical Party demanded on Thursday that the
    Speaker of the Serbian Parliament, Dragan Tomic starts the
    procedure for dismissing Dragoljub Jankovic, Chair of the First
    Municipal Court in Belgrade, and all the other judges who decided
    the appeals against the November decision of the Belgrade
    Electoral Commission. The Radicals based their demand on the fact
    that the First Municipal Court had granted the Socialist appeals
    on the grounds of minor irregularities in the electoral procedure
    which are hard to prove and thus normally rejected. The second
    argument of the Radicals is that the First Municipal Court was
    guilty of procedural irregularities during the January Socialist
    and Radical appeals, which once again proved it was assuming a
    political role.


    Chair of the Belgrade Electoral Commission Radomir Lazarevic said
    on Belgrade's BK Television on Thursday that the courts cannot
    annul the people's electoral will. He said that the First
    Municipal Court of Belgrade had assumed the role of the electoral
    commission when it annuled electoral results in 45 polling
    stations. He stated that the electoral commission, as a managing
    body, was obliged to obey court decisions even those it considered
    to be illegal. He said, however, that the court was only
    authorized to annul an electoral commission's decision and return
    it to the commission for further procedure. The court had no right
    to annul the results and call new elections.


    A group of Yugoslav economic experts drawn from the Schools of
    Economics in Belgrade and Podgorica, the World Bank and the
    International Monetary Fund have completed a document on measures
    for fast economic recovery of FRYugoslavia to be presented to the
    general public next week. The introduction to the document states
    that the reform badly needed by the Yugoslav economy is not
    feasible without overall democratization, respect for human
    rights, a stable currency and freedom of the press -- all factors
    which cannot exist under the current government. The introduction
    presents evidence that the ruling party has unscrupulously
    destroyed the state economy in order to fill their own pockets. It
    has also corrupted all the key mechanisms for a market economy,
    used the recent wars in former Yugoslavia and the international
    sanctions against FR Yugoslavia to provoke monetary chaos in order
    to draw money from people's savings, drowned private businesses in
    exorbitant taxes and is now hindering the return of FR Yugoslavia
    to the international monetary institutions. ``The intensive
    destruction of the economy at the hands of the ruling clique in
    Serbia has completely destroyed our society. People are robbed
    both materially and spiritually. They have been denied the right
    to normal living. Healthy economic motivation has been killed and
    overall criminalization of society established,'' the introductory
    letter says. The authors will offer their work to any political
    forces in Yugoslavia ready to embark immediately and
    uncompromisingly on radical economic and social reforms aimed at
    the recovery of Yugoslav society, which they believe is still
    possible. ``These [political] forces certainly do not include the
    leadership of the ruling party in Serbia and its political
    satellites,'' the introductory letter said.

    Prepared by: Marija Milosavljevic
    Edited by: Mary Anne Wood

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

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