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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), December 23, 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.



    Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pavle, today
    appealed to the citizens and the authorities of Serbia, expressing
    ``deepest worries'' about the so called ``counter-rallies''
    announced for tomorrow by the Socialists. ``Apart from all,
    extremely harmful political, diplomatic and economic consequences,
    the greatest, as I see it, lies in the division of our society
    which can end in armed confrontation,'' says the Patriarch in his
    letter. He also addressed the ruling party, which has the command
    of the army, and begged them ``to refrain from any form of armed
    showdown and to show every tolerance for the protests against a
    whole slew of problems, electoral and other, which have led to the
    current crisis.''  He then went on to urge the authorities to
    ``seek for solutions which will guarantee democracy, peace and
    justice'' in this country.

    The Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church appealed to the opposition
    parties, and especially student protesters, to maintain their
    commitment to truth and to non-violence. Among other things,
    addressing the role of students in the two rallies tomorrow, the
    Patriarch wrote: ``Our people say that the one who gives way is
    the more intelligent party, so let it be you tomorrow. Give up
    your demonstrations tomorrow in order to avoid taking on the
    responsibility for what might happen. Continue to behave as it
    behooves you, following the example set by the students of the
    University of Belgrade, to whom I have already written and given
    my blessing for their adherence to Christian ideals: to the ideals
    of true democracy and full human rights for all.''  ``I pray to
    God to give you reason and peace, and if it comes to a
    confrontation, I will feel obliged to stand on the side of the
    people on whom the violence is perpetrated,'' concluded His
    Holiness Pavle.


    The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) today warned the public that
    the so called ``counter-rally'' of Milosevic's supporters,
    announced for tomorrow, may set off a train of events no one
    wants, especially violence. The counter-rally is scheduled to
    coincide with the usual protests of anti-Milosevic, opposition
    supporters, so it is uncertain what will happen if the two crowds
    collide. If this should happen, Milosevic bears complete
    responsibility for the situation, says the DSS in its statement


    The Steering Board of the Student Protest '96 issued an official
    statement today in which it warns the public about the seriousness
    of the situation Serbia is in now and calls for utmost civility
    during tomorrow's demonstrations. ``If we show that we can
    peacefully protest on the streets beside them, it means that we
    will be able to work together with them tomorrow, for the benefit
    of the whole country. Anything else would be a disaster. We appeal
    for maximum tolerance and reason. There are two Serbias today and
    they do not understand each other. May they let their children, at
    least, be the bridge of understanding between them. Listen to us,
    do hear us: we want to remind you that we all speak the same
    language. We are all brothers. We are all human beings,'' ends the
    statement of the Belgrade Student Protest '96.


    Leaders of the coalition Zajedno today called their supporters to
    gather tomorrow in as great numbers as possible and at the usual
    time, which will tomorrow coincide with the time of the announced
    pro-Socialist rally.

    Head of the Civil Alliance of Serbia, Mrs. Vesna Pesic, said:
    ``Don't let any incident happen. We will go for our usual protest
    walk, let them hold their counter-rally, we will not disturb

    Head of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, said that people
    will be bused in to the SPS counter-rally unwillingly, as ``to a
    concentration camp.''  ``They are not to be blames -- like us,
    they are the future of Serbia. Tomorrow, we will greet them as our
    co-citizens and brothers,'' added Djindjic. He emphasized that
    Zajedno has accepted the proposal made by the Steering Board of
    Student Protest '96 that tomorrow's rally be addressed by two
    representatives of the coalition Zajedno as well as two
    representatives of Milosevic's supporters.

    Head of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Vuk Draskovic, said that he
    feels ``nothing but pity'' for the participants of the announced
    counter-rally. ``We will do what we have been doing all these
    days. Don't be afraid, there will be no violence. If any violence
    should erupt, it will take away him and her [Milosevic and his
    wife],'' concluded Draskovic.

    Tomorrow's protest walk will be led by a group of Belgrade's most
    prominent citizens, including the city's writers, actors, singers,
    theater and film directors, clergy, lawyers and journalists,
    announced coalition Zajedno.


    According to the recent survey conducted by the agency
    ``Partner,'' every fifth citizen of Serbia supports anti-Milosevic
    protests. Almost half of the people above 56 years of age do not
    support protests of Zajedno, and 37% of those between 18 and 35
    are in favor of the protests.


    At today's protest rally in the city of Kragujevac, attended by
    more than 20,000 people, local leaders of the coalition Zajedno
    said that although the opposition had won in the municipal
    elections in Kragujevac, the local media [which include TV, Radio
    and a weekly newspaper] were taken over by the Socialist
    authorities. The local media suddenly became part of the state-run
    RTS network, which means that they remain under complete control
    of the ruling party. Leaders of Zajedno said that it was an
    illegal act and that Zajedno will try its best to change the
    current situation.


    Head of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Vuk Draskovic, addressed the
    crowd gathered at today's protest rally in the city of Nis. Among
    other things, he said: `` The election theft was so obvious that
    it could be seen from the plane. The OSCE delegation got more than
    firm evidence about it. We are sure that they will recommend to
    Milosevic that the election results must be restored. The very
    moment Milosevic restores the real election results, we will be
    ready for a dialogue with him,'' said Draskovic.


    The OSCE spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, stated today for Belgrade's
    BK Television that the former Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe
    Gonzalez, who was in Belgrade last weekend as head of the OSCE
    fact-finding mission on the electoral crisis there, is currently
    working on his report on the talks he had while in Belgrade.
    Fleming also said that Gonzalez is studying the comments submitted
    by the other delegation members, who have already given him their
    written reports. She said that the official report will be
    submitted to the Chair of the OSCE, Flavio Cotti, by the end of
    this week. The members of the OSCE delegation will no longer meet
    in ``full line-up,'' said Fleming in her statement today.


    Several hundred Serbian emigres held a rally today in downtown
    Oakland, New Zealand, as an act of support to the anti-government
    protests in Serbia. They also read out their telegram of support
    to the protesters in Serbia. It begins: ``Thank you for bringing
    back to us the hope of one day returning to our fatherland. Thank
    you, for the world has now realized there exists an other Serbia,
    worthy of admiration and respect.''  Several renowned Serbian-born
    New Zealanders addressed the rally and, to honor the events in
    Belgrade, the crowd then took a walk through the streets of
    downtown Oakland.

    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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