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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 9 PM), December 24, 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.



    A large scale clash between Milosevic's and Zajedno supporters was
    avoided by a hair's breath in Belgrade today. Supporters of the
    Socialist Party of Serbia staged a pro-Milosevic rally 3 p.m.,
    while at the same time Zajedno sympathizers gathered for their
    35th march through the streets of Belgrade.

    The atmosphere grew heated around noon, when supporters bussed in
    from other parts of Serbia started arriving to the Yugoslav
    capital. Belgraders greeted them with jeers, hurling eggs and
    setting off fire-crackers. At one point, the two groups met at
    Terazije, the downtown square set aside for the pro-Milosevic
    rally; there were some 20,000 Socialist supporters and 40,000
    Zajedno sympathizers. Sporadic clashes broke out around noon.
    Fights with sticks, fruit and vegetables, and fire-crackers lasted
    almost until the beginning of the pro-Milosevic counter-rally,
    when a cordon of riot police, 10-deep, pushed the Zajedno
    supporters to the Republic Square. These fights resulted in
    several broken heads on both sides. The first serious incident
    occurred in Knez Mihajlova Street around 2 p.m., when an SPS
    supporter, acting in full view of several photo-reporters and TV
    cameras, shot a citizen in the head. The wounded, Ivica Lazovic, a
    member of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) from Boljevac, was
    taken to the Trauma Center in serious condition.

    Meanwhile, at the Socialist rally on the Terazije Square,
    President Milosevic made one of increasingly rare public
    appearances and addressed the crowd. Conspicuously edgy, he
    delivered his speech, at times haltingly, to some 70,000 of his
    supporters. This meeting ``For Serbia,'' as the Socialists have
    dubbed it, was attended by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic,
    Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic, and a number of SPS officials and
    government members. President's supporters left the square before
    5 p.m. In the meantime, over 250,000 Zajedno supporters gathered
    in the Republic Square, hemmed in by several thousand-strong
    police force. They set off on their usual protest march through
    Belgrade streets around 4 p.m., in order to take the heat out of
    the situation and let the Socialists get done with their rally.
    Around 5 p.m., the police used tear-gas against the demonstrators
    in the city center, at the moment when the Zajedno supporters
    tried to get to the Terazije Square from the Republic Square.
    Although the police used their batons and hurt a number of people,
    the situation soon cooled down. Opposition leaders called on the
    citizens to remain sensible and keep clear of the police. The
    situation finally settled around 7 p.m., when the police as well
    as the citizens of Belgrade withdrew from the city streets. A new
    protest march by Zajedno is set for tomorrow.

    Some 50,000 UofB students marched down the streets of Belgrade for
    the 31st consecutive day today. They departed from their original
    itinerary and moved down the Pariska Street in order to avoid
    contact with SPS supporters. Some of the city's traffic wardens
    did not conceal their solidarity with the students. One of them
    took a whistle out of his pocket, one of the sound gadgets used by
    the demonstrators, and blew on it along with the students. In the
    course of their march, the students came into contact with several
    small groups of SPS supporters but incidents were averted thanks
    to the student security people.


    Acting US Secretary of State Strobe Talbot issued a statement
    tonight saying the US holds Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic
    responsible for the violence that occurred today on the streets of
    Belgrade, Reuters reports. The statement went on to condemn the
    Serbian authorities for their blatant and provocative decision to
    escalate tensions by bringing thousands of people to Belgrade in
    order to counter the peaceful opposition demonstrations instead of
    showing good-will in trying to solve the political crisis
    resulting from the nullification of the opposition victory in the
    November 17 local elections. In conclusion, Talbot said that the
    US Chief of Mission Richard Miles met Yugoslav Foreign Minister
    Milan Milutinovic today and called on the Serbian Government to
    avoid further violence. A similar message was sent to the


    The US Government issued a statement today with regard to the
    escalation of conflicts in Serbia, stressing its concern over the
    clashes in Belgrade and calling on both sides for maximum
    restraint and avoidance of further confrontations, reports
    Slobodan Pavlovic, correspondent of the daily ``Nasa Borba.''  The
    US Government holds Serbian Government and President Milosevic
    responsible for the violent incidents that took place in Belgrade
    today. The statement reiterated the previous demands the US has
    made for Milosevic to acknowledge the legitimate local electoral
    results of November 17, to embark on a dialogue with the
    democratic opposition, to refrain from further actions which could
    provoke unrest, and to lift the state control of the medial. The
    US Government once again warned the authorities in Belgrade that
    any use of force against peaceful demonstrations could have
    serious consequences and lead into further isolation of Serbia.


    Fifteen casualties were taken to the Trauma Center in Belgrade
    today. All 15 had sustained injuries in the clashes between
    Milosevic's and Zajedno supporters. Two of the fifteen have been
    hospitalized. Studio B television reports that Rade Vasiljevic, a
    medical doctor at the Trauma Center, said that the 42-year-old man
    who was brought with a head injury inflicted by a fire-arm was
    kept in hospital after a successful operation. Another 44-year-old
    was detained with a broken leg. The other 13 were discharged with
    minor injuries, he added.


    Addressing over 250,000 citizens gathered in the Republic Square
    after their march through Belgrade streets, leader of the Serbian
    Renewal Movement (SPO), Vuk Draskovic said: ``Slobodan Milosevic
    had planned bloodshed and a start of a civil war in Belgrade
    today.''  He called on the citizens not to be drawn into
    ``Milosevic's bloody intention to turn Serbia into a Vukovar, a
    Sarajevo, a Krajina,'' concluding that because of his actions, the
    Serbian President must leave his office.

    Leader of the Civil Alliance of Serbia (GSS), Vesna Pesic called
    this day a historic one: ``those wretches headed by the tyrant and
    his consort have been defeated in Belgrade.''  ``If a Serbian head
    of state plans a civil war and a division of Serbia, we have no
    reason to think he belongs here. His is not a foreign but an alien
    hand. There is no nation in the world that deserves such a
    ruler,'' she concluded, calling on the members of the police and
    army forces to disobey Milosevic's orders from now on.

    Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, asked:
    ``Where are the state funds and where are the votes cast by the
    people of this country -- in Cyprus, in the UN, or in
    [Milosevic's] mouse-hole? .''  He said that the demonstrations had
    been peaceful until Milosevic appeared himself, causing violence
    and bloodshed. ``Who is causing instability here? He [Milosevic].
    Who is provoking unrest? He again,'' said Djindjic, concluding
    that it must be Zajedno's task to restore stability in Serbia.


    German Foreign Minister Claus Kinkel expressed today his concern
    over the violence in Belgrade and called on all sides to refrain
    from further confrontations, reports Reuters. He said the crisis
    in Yugoslavia can be resolved only through democratic dialogue and
    not by violence. Claus Kinkel has sent a message to Serbian
    President Milosevic that further violence would be a death blow to
    his efforts to return Serbia to Europe. He said today's
    demonstrations give cause to grave concern and that the clashes
    between Milosevic's and opposition supporters must not be allowed
    to escalate into a spiral of violence.

    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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