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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 11 PM), December 8, 1996

    e-mail: beograd@siicom.com      URL: http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/
            odrazb92@b92.opennet.org     http://www.siicom.com/b92/
    All texts are Copyright 1996 Radio B92. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    NEWS BY 11 PM


    Veran Matic, editor-in-chief: Radio B92 has called this press
    conference to mark the visit of Kati Marton, President of the CPJ
    [Committee to Protect Journalists].  Ms. Kati Marton left for
    Belgrade as soon as she learnt that the B92 was shut down. Thanks
    to the prompt reaction and the solidarity expressed by
    international media, as well as the CPJ, Radio B92 was put back on
    the air while Ms. Marton was still on her way to Belgrade. We are
    back on the air now and I hope that this week we will sign a
    contract which will legalize our status. I hope that Radio Boom
    93, which is still banned, will start broadcasting soon. Ms.
    Marton's visit is of the utmost importance and we wish to thank
    her and all our colleagues from various organizations throughout
    the world who have helped Radio B92, Radio Index, and we hope the
    Boom 93 (any time now) to resume their broadcasting.

    Kati Marton: I did come the minute I learned about shutting down
    of B92 to send a very clear message of solidarity. I come not only
    as a journalist myself, but as the representative of the largest
    American... as the chair of the largest American organization of
    journalists. Now the situation as regards of the B92 has been
    corrected, I think, as a result of pressure from so many different
    quarters -- not only from journalists abroad. But I have to say
    that the US Government, by making its official radios, namely
    Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, immediately available to
    broadcast B92 had a very important impact and also drove on the
    point to President Slobodan Milosevic that it isn't journalists
    alone who are outraged at this blatant manipulation of the media,
    but that it's the US Government itself. In fact, in recent days,
    the US Government has been more critical of the treatment of the
    press here than it ever was about the treatment of journalists in

    I know that you're all interested in hearing about my two and a
    half hour meeting with President Milosevic. Let me just say two
    things. One, that I think it's outrageous that it takes a reporter
    from New York representing the Committee to Protect Journalists to
    gain access to the President of this country, and I encouraged him
    to make himself more available to all of you and above all to his
    countrymen. He and I had actually done some business before. I was
    present part of the time during the Dayton negotiations and had 4
    sessions with President Milosevic. During those negotiations I
    successfully helped to negotiate the freeing of our colleague
    David Rhode of the Christian Science Monitor, who had been taken
    prisoner in Bosnia. So, he and I had a prior relationship of some

    During my two and a half hours with the President I wanted to get
    a long-term commitment from him that what happened to B92 will not
    happen again. Because, after all, you and I know that he still
    controls the media here and what he did once he can do again. So,
    I had drafted a manifesto listing specific methods of media
    control, such as control of the newsprint, control of advertising,
    control of licensing of broadcast radio stations, which I wanted
    him to sign and pledge not to repeat ever again. I handed that
    document to him and told him that it will go a very long way
    toward mending his image in the West, which I told him was quite
    good a year ago, but is now about as bad as it can be. That the
    good will that had been generated by his participation in the
    Dayton Accords has now evaporated, but that he had a chance to
    reverse that by showing that Serbia was on the road to
    democratization and you can not claim to be on that road if your
    oppress, control, or suppress your media.

    So, I handed him that manifesto which he proceeded to tear up.
    What is left of that manifesto is half a page that I then
    proceeded to write in my own hand, because I didn't want to lose
    this opportunity. I wanted to come away with something concrete
    and something in writing. You may well say that one can't trust
    President Milosevic's word, which has been broken in the past. But
    I always think that it's better to have something in writing than
    not, because at least you can refer to it. So this is what I
    hurriedly wrote and which he did, in fact, sign.

    ``In our conversation today President Slobodan Milosevic and I,
    Kati Marton, chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists,
    reiterated our support of a free press in the Federal Republic of
    Yugoslavia and the right to publish and broadcast here freely.''
    So, this is the document that he signed.

    I also told President Milosevic that the time has past when
    authoritarian governments can control the flow of information in
    their countries, that we're living in the age of Internet, email,
    fax... to say nothing of cable TVs, Sky and CNN and that 45
    borders are meaningless today when we can all be in touch with
    each other within a matter of minutes. [I told him] that he is
    simply prolonging the inevitable.

    I also commended him on the restraint that he has shown thus far
    with the demonstrations and he, in turn, promised that he would
    allow those demonstrations to proceed as they are. Peacefully. And
    he even said that he had discouraged his own supporters from
    coming to Belgrade from the countryside to organize counter-

    I am here to show solidarity with the independent media who work
    under such horrendous conditions, with such [courageous tenacity
    -- inaudible] and at the same time I would like to call on those
    journalists who work for the state organs, and I'm talking about
    'Politika' and the state TV, to begin to behave like real
    journalists. And the fact that 'Politika' [prints -- inaudible] as
    the most important story in Serbian history since before the war
    in the back pages and the story of Rwandan refugees on front pages
    -- I don't call that journalism. And I call on my colleagues, and
    they are my colleagues, to start behaving like reporters, and not

    And I just want to close by saying that I think that we're seeing
    history made here in the streets of Belgrade and that I commend
    the peaceful, and even good-humored and very dignified way in
    which it is being carried out. I applaud your courage.

    None of us are naive enough to expect miracles and a magical
    transformation here. But I think that what we're talking about is
    exerting continuous and daily pressure. And I think that all of us
    who believe in the rights of free press and democracy have a role
    to play here. All of us.

    Q: The latest ruling of the Supreme Court...

    Marton: It's not what we hoped, is it?  It's discouraging and I
    think an opportunity has been missed quite frankly. And, just like
    the rest of you, I pray that it can still be reversed. This is not
    by any means over. This is an ongoing situation and I just hope
    that people on both sides don't run out of patience.

    I certainly promise you that when I return to New York and
    Washington, I will certainly give a very vivid description of what
    is going on here, and hopefully I will be heard. And hopefully we
    can continue to work together to step back from a collision.

    I know that many of you feel that he [Slobodan Milosevic] is
    unaware of what's going on because he hasn't been seen in such a
    long time, he's basically been under ground. But I assure you that
    he's very isolated -- that's true and I don't think it's by chance
    that he's now living in Tito's former villa rather than closer to
    town. I think he's very isolated, but that he's fully aware and
    fully briefed on what is going on in the street every day by his
    people. And even though you don't see many uniformed people, which
    I think is very wise of President Milosevic, I think he is
    absolutely aware. And my impression is that, this caught him by
    surprise -- the extent of the demonstrations and the length, the
    duration, the dailiness of it I think has caught him by surprise.
    Otherwise he would have been more prepared for it.

    That he [Milosevic] said to me that he could bring his supporters
    here, on very short notice, from the countryside clearly shows
    that he feels that he may have lost the support of Belgrade which
    I think is a terrible blow -- it must be. He feels that he still
    has the support of the countryside. I don't think that he's in a
    mood to give up by any means. Not at all, I think he's thinking of
    running again, as a matter of fact.

    I'm here to defend all independent media, i.e. media that practice
    journalism with honor, dignity and following the basic precepts of
    free press, which is objectivity and careful reporting.


    Today, protesters laid a funeral wreath in front of the building
    of the Presidency Of Serbia with an inscription on it saying:
    ``Justice died here.''  More than a hundred thousand people took
    part in today's protest. There was no Milosevic's dummy today
    because the man who made and operated it was arrested and beaten
    by the police last night. The citizens who took part in today's
    rally were addressed by the leaders of Zajedno and by a French
    member of the European Parliament.


    The President of the Democratic Party Of Serbia, Vojislav
    Kostunica said that the possible resignation of Slobodan Milosevic
    is a matter of his own ``political judgment.''  Although Milosevic
    has never made any concessions -- much lesser in scope that the
    demand for his resignation -- said Kostunica, it does not mean
    that he is not prepared to do it now, faced with circumstances
    which he could not have predicted. Kostunica also said that the
    nature of Serbian authorities pushes them to endlessly postpone
    vital decisions and therefore prolong tensions in the country.


    The ruling of the Supreme Court Of Serbia to ratify the annulment
    of the municipal election results and overrule the complaints of
    the Opposition surprised Western diplomats and analysts. European
    diplomatic circles in Brussels continue to believe that Milosevic
    is still for an ``honorable way out'' and that it still remains is
    to be seen how he will do it. Many European diplomats now fear
    that the Serbian regime might use force to stop the
    demonstrations, even by provoking violence themselves, although
    there has been no violence so far.

    European Foreign Ministers announced a change in their strategy
    towards the Serbian opposition, saying that Zajedno and other
    opposition organizations will get much stronger support in the
    future. The present situation in Serbia will also be on the agenda
    at the impending summit in Dublin on December 13 and 14.


    The Belgrade Electoral Commission does not agree with today's
    rulings of the Supreme Court of Serbia. President of the
    Commission, Radomir Lazarevic said tonight that three legal
    campaigns will be immediately launched against the ruling of the
    Supreme Court that ratified the annulment of the second round
    elections for the Belgrade City Hall. The Belgrade Electoral
    Commission will submit a request to the Federal Court to review
    the decisions reached by the Supreme Court of Serbia today, while
    both the Serbian and Federal DAs will be sent requests to initiate
    legal proceedings for the protection of the legality of Serbian

    Radiomir Lazarevic added that the Federal Court, Serbian and
    Federal DAs will have 48 hours to make their stand known.



    Dejan Bulatovic, the student who carried an effigy of Slobodan
    Milosevic during yesterday's demonstrations in Belgrade, was
    sentenced today to 25 days in prison. Bulatovic was denied his
    right to contact his lawyer, and according to his mother was
    physically and psychologically abused. Bulatovic was stripped
    naked, a gun was put in his mouth, he had a baton forcibly stuck
    up his rectum, he was called names, beaten and left in a cell with
    its windows wide open, even though he suffers from asthma.
    Bulatovic's mother said that she found her son totally naked,
    lying on the floor of his cell, and in a very poor health

    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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