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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 9, 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


    Several American newspapers today have given wide coverage to the
    case of Dejan Bulatovic, the 21-year-old demonstrator who was
    severely beaten while in police custody and subsequently sentenced
    to 3 weeks in solitary confinement. Bulatovic, who suffers from
    asthma, is now isolated in a cell whose windows are deliberately
    left open to the cold winter air and is left to sleep on the
    cell's cement floor, reports FoNet correspondent for ``Nasa
    Borba'' Slobodan Pavlovic. ``The treatment of Bulatovic might well
    herald that Milosevic is about to take a hard-line stand towards
    the demonstrators,'' comments today's article in the ``Washington
    Times,'' which goes on to add that Milosevic now has three options
    to end the most severe crisis his regime has ever faced. The
    article then lists as possible options the use of police and army
    forces to forcibly quell the protests, the continuation of the
    present waiting-game policy in the hope that the people will
    finally tire of daily rallies and the brunt of winter cold they've
    been facing day after day, or, the final alternative, the ceding
    of its electoral victory to the opposition forces in the
    expectation that their attempt to deal with the economic chaos
    created by Milosevic's regime would actually backfire and turn the
    opposition supporters against coalition Zajedno.

    The announcement that the Belgrade Electoral Commission is shortly
    to submit its appeal to the Federal Court as well as to the Office
    of the District Attorney is seen in the light of the above
    analysis. American press characterizes these moves as the latest
    maneuver by which Milosevic hopes to test the endurance and the
    determination of both his internal and international critics
    before proceeding to take any steps that will actually resolve the
    present stalemate in a crisis which, according to the NPR
    (America's only public radio), has ``seriously unsettled the
    Serbian dictator, while it has left the opposition forces only a
    minuscule chance of resolving the situation without the support of
    Serbian workers.''


    Tomorrow in Brussels, diplomatic representatives of NATO will be
    reviewing the recent developments in Bosnia and neighboring
    countries, announced a high NATO official: in this context, the
    current situation in Serbia will certainly be given major
    attention (FoNet report by Mirko Klarin, correspondent for ``Nasa
    Borba''). At today's briefing in Brussels, the same NATO spokesman
    also reiterated that ``Serbia is a key player in this region and
    how the situation in Belgrade develops can have significant
    ramifications on this part of the world in general. Of course, we
    shall do everything to keep the Dayton accord in place and we will
    also insist that the obligations stipulated by the Dayton accord
    be fulfilled by all the signatories to that agreement.''

    The events in Serbia were also a topic at the press conference
    held today at the Brussels headquarters of the European
    Commission. A spokesman for the Commission issued a statement in
    which the members of EC strongly insist on the necessity for a
    democratic solution to the problems in Serbia, adding that FR
    Yugoslavia will not be granted any trade concessions until there
    is a democratic way out of the present crisis. The EC and its
    member states are maintaining steady contact with the authorities
    in Belgrade as well as with the other parties in the evolving
    situation in an effort to find a democratic solution to the crisis
    in Serbia.


    Protest rallies organized by coalition Zajedno were held today in
    Nis, Pirot, Krusevac, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Jagodina, Pancevo and
    Veliko Gradiste.

    Radio B92 has received reports from Zajedno that the about 25,000
    citizens protesting in Nis gathered at the Liberation Square, and
    then, after the customary walk-about, stopped in front of the
    city's TV station to express their disapproval of its reporting on
    the events by a salvo of firecrackers.

    In Pirot, Radio B92 has learned from Milan Ilic, member of
    coalition Zajedno, that the protest meetings are scheduled to go
    on until December 23, and possibly beyond. If the results of Nov.
    17 elections are not recognized by then, Ilic added, ``we shall
    usher in the New Year out in the streets.''

    The ruling party's manipulation of electoral results was also the
    focus of today's protests in Krusevac. Radio B92 has learned that,
    although the city's Electoral Committee has not yet ruled on the
    25 objections lodged by the opposition Zajedno, the municipality
    of Kragujevac has scheduled its official constitutive session for
    tomorrow to debate the election of some 17 representatives to the
    City Hall.


    The city's School of Medicine was the gathering point for about
    4,000 student demonstrators who came out for the ritual walk-about
    in Nis today. The students carried red balloons to the building of
    the Municipal Court, where they were burst in a sign of protest
    against the political manipulation of the courts. The students of
    Nis have also sent an open letter of protest to the Serbian
    Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, and to President
    Slobodan Milosevic in which they take the authorities to task for
    their complicity with the brutal police assault and subsequent
    treatment of Dejan Bulatovic, a student who was severely beaten
    while in police custody last Friday night. Tomorrow's walk-about
    by the students of Nis is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.


    President of the Democratic Party Zoran Djindjic stated in the
    interview he gave to Radio B92 today that coalition Zajedno will
    not accept an eventual new round of local elections. ``It makes
    absolutely no sense to hold yet another round of elections under
    the same conditions we have had to deal with until now. We have no
    guarantee whatsoever that those who committed fraud the last time
    round would not steal our ballots once again.''  Djindjic also
    announced that Zajedno will boycott the Federal Assembly, which is
    due to hold its first session in its new constitution tomorrow.
    The leader of DS feels that the situation has now reached its
    boiling point and that the crisis cannot be solved before the
    opposition has clearly spelled out the conditions under which it
    would agree to participate in any elections as well as those under
    which it will boycott them in the future. ``We have gained in
    strength and we are at a point where we can tell the world: we
    shall boycott the next elections, and this will remove all
    legitimacy from them,'' said Djindjic.

    According to the statements he made during the course of the
    interview, the opposition will participate in any new elections
    only under these conditions: that there is complete objectivity of
    reporting by the state-owned media and full independence of the
    media in general well ahead of the elections; there is a common
    and binding consensus on the law governing the elections; and,
    there are both international and other prior guarantees that the
    results of the elections will be fully respected. Djindjic is also
    confident that the sustained, non-violent course of public
    protests is already exerting considerable pressure on the
    authorities and that it is the one ``method [the opposition has]
    to which they don't know how to respond. If we can keep this going
    for some time longer, I believe that we will get some serious
    democratic processes on a roll in Serbia. There isn't a single
    remaining institution that belongs to the present system of
    government which has come out clean in the events of the past few
    weeks: not the state-controlled media, nor the courts, not even
    the parliaments of this country. The head of the Assembly, the
    head of state, all of them have failed the test,'' concluded the
    leader of the Democratic Party.


    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic spent most of the day in
    meetings with numerous heads of state industries in talks about
    the projected construction of a trans-Yugoslav high-way, a project
    expected to give a considerable boost to Serbia's badly ailing
    economy. While the state-controlled media gave ample coverage of
    Mr. Milosevic's speech about the scope and the expected economic
    benefits of this project, Serbia's First Lady was also breaking
    her silence with the accusations she hurled at opposition Zajedno
    in a speech she gave in Zagubica today.

    Mira Markovic, wife of President Milosevic and herself leader of
    coalition JUL [the United Left of Yugoslavia], commented on the
    3-week-long opposition protests thus: ``At this moment, in
    Belgrade and in some other large urban centers in Serbia,
    supporters of that part of the opposition which is disgruntled
    with the results of the recent elections have taken recourse to
    the kind of protest and the kind of violence which they have
    already used in the past.''  Mira Markovic then reminded her
    audience of the events of March 9 and the Vidovdan celebration [a
    traditional Serbian holiday], which she characterized as the days
    ``the first victims fell.''  According to her, ``the capital city
    was practically destroyed'' on those two occasions in the past 6
    years and today ``Belgrade is facing the danger of even more
    extensive material damage and even more brutal trauma than it has
    seen in the last 50 years.''  The leader of JUL concluded her
    speech by saying that the Yugoslav left stand for peace and
    against all forms of violence.


    The Belgrade board of JUL [the United Left of Yugoslavia]
    condemned opposition coalition Zajedno of using street
    demonstrations ``to inflict violence and terrorism on the
    citizens'' of Belgrade.



    None of the three proposals for a reform of the electoral system
    in Slovenia has won a majority of votes in yesterday's referendum,
    reports SFP.  The first unofficial results announced in Ljubljana
    indicate that the present proportional system of voting will
    indeed remain in force.


    The 13-day strike of Croatia's railway workers has for all intents
    and purposes come to an end, reports FoNet correspondent Zarko
    Modric. This morning the workers agreed to let a part of the
    freight service resume its work; almost all passenger services
    were fully operational at the end of last week as the railway
    workers' union felt that it did not wish to inflict hardship on
    the poorer segments of Croatian society, who are particularly
    dependent on the railways.


    AFP reports that the European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs,
    Hans Van der Broek has expressed astonishment at the decision made
    by the Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to give an order of merit
    to Tihomir Blaskic, former Croatian general, who has been accused
    of war crimes and is currently awaiting trial at the Hague
    Tribunal. President Tudjman's decision, according to Mr. Van den
    Broek's press representative, ``does not accord with the spirit of
    the Dayton agreement.''

    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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