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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 3 PM), December 25, 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.



    Dr. Rade Vasiljevic, physician at the emergency medical centre in
    Belgrade, told the newsagency FoNet the centre has so far received
    58 persons wounded in yesterday's demonstrations. Of the fifty-
    eight, five have been hospitalized and the rest have been
    discharged. Among the five, Ivica Lazovic, who suffered a gun
    wound to the head, remains in critical condition after undergoing
    surgery yesterday. Three others have suffered broken extremities
    and one person a head wound, described as ``not as critical as
    Lazovic's.''  The wounded were brougth to the centre between 12
    noon and 11 p.m., said Dr. Vasiljevic. He did not rule out the
    possibility of new casualties registering at the centre since, as
    he explained, pain tend to grow more acute as the wounds cool


    The University of Belgrade's Steering Board for Defence of
    Democracy sent an open letter to Serbian President Milosevic
    today, saying: ``Your initiative brought Belgrade to the verge of
    a civil war...  After more than a month of peaceful
    demonstrations, your decision to bring your supporters [to
    Belgrade] and stage a rally at the same place and time as the
    usual gathering of Belgraders, lead to violence and even to
    bloodshed. It was only with the maximum self-restraint of the
    citizens and much luck that a catastrophe was averted.''  The
    letter described Milosevic's public branding of his political
    opponents as ``the fifth column'' a ``call for lynching.''

    ``This sort of position towards those who think differently from
    you leads to wider divisions in our country which can have a
    tragic outcome. As the individual with the greatest authority, you
    will be held responsible should a tragedy strike,'' warned the
    letter, demanding that Milosevic ``behave as the president of all
    citizens of Serbia.''


    Yesterday's electrifying events in Belgrade made the headnews in
    today's news programs of all TV and radio stations in Europe,
    reported last night Mirko Klarin, correspondent of the daily 'Nasa
    Borba'. Instead of a spontanious gathering of supporters, European
    TV and radio stations describe pro-government demonstrators as
    hired masses, Milosevic's reluctant protesters, forced to choose
    between participating in the pro-Milosevic rally and losing their
    jobs. Some news programs called the rally the ``greatest logistics
    operation carried out in the Balkan region since the evacuation of
    the Muslims from Srebrenica'' which was carried out by General
    Mladic in July last year.

    Milosevic's timing was of special interest to the European
    analysts. They gave two answers to the question why Milosevic
    chose yesterday to confront the opposition supporters on the
    streets of Belgrade. One is that Milosevic was testing the mettle
    of Western diplomatic circles, who had sent him a series of stiff
    warnings not to use violence and whom he expected to catch napping
    on Christmas Eve. The other is that by chosing this exact time for
    street confrontation, he wanted to pre-empt and discredit
    beforehand the findings and recomendations of the OSCE mission.
    These are to be made known by the end of this week, but it is
    already clear they will not be favourable to the ruling party and
    will demand the restoration of the local electoral results of
    November 17.


    Russian Foreign Ministry expressed today its ``grave concern''
    about the clashes in Serbia, calling on the two parties to
    urgently embark on a dialogue, reports the newsagency Interfax.
    According to the AFP, this has been the first official statement
    from Russia on the political crisis in Serbia which has been going
    on for over a month now, FoNet reports. ``The present crisis can
    and must be overcome as soon as possible through a political
    dialogue of all democratic forces in the country,'' said the
    Russian foreign ministry statement, adding that ``any use of
    force, any action that might provoke clashes and confrontation''
    must be ruled out. At the same time, Moscow calls on the
    international community to ``help the Federal Republic of
    Yugoslavia to overcome the difficult consequences of the war in
    the region, i.e. sanctions and isolation,'' stressing Russia's
    ``readiness to contribute to the stability and the democratic
    development'' of the country.


    According to Reuters, official France condemned Serbian
    authorities today for the use of force in the streets of Belgrade
    during the parallel pro -- and anti-government rallies yesterday,
    calling on all sides to exert maximum restraint, FoNet reports.
    ``We note that the demonstrations were peaceful for a month and
    that the situation suddenly deteriorated during the counter-rally
    organized by the government,'' said a statement by the French
    Foreign Ministry. ``We call for an immediate cessation of street
    clashes and recommend that the Yugoslav authorities exert maximum
    restraint.''  The statement also called on the Belgrade
    authorities to try and approach the opposition for a possible


    Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini condemned today the use of
    force in the clashes between the two groups of demonstrators in
    Belgrade, calling to attention the fact that Serbian President
    Milosevic had promissed to keep his dealings with the opposition
    peaceful, FoNet reports Reuters as saying. The Italian foreign
    ministry statement also said: ``We hope that a panel will be
    organized to establish common rules so as to guarantee that the
    1997 elections will be democratic,'' stressing that dialogue
    between the government and the opposition is crucial for
    democratic changes in Yugoslavia. It called on both sides to avoid
    any actions ``which could prevent such changes.''


    Romanian President Emil Constantinescu today condemned yesterday's
    violence on the streets of Belgrade, calling for the crisis to be
    solved in a democratic way, FoNet reports AFP as saying.
    Contantinescu stressed that the standoff ``preventing the
    establishment of democratic institutions in a neighbouring country
    does as much damage to Yugoslavia as it does to its friends in the
    region.''  ``We call on the Serbian authorities to avoid using
    force for no solution based on force can be a lasting one,'' said


    Speaking at a press conference today, President of the Democratic
    Party of Serbia Vojislav Kostunica described President Milosevic's
    attempt to stage a rally in Belgrade as a complete fiasco. ``He
    tried to demonstrate his power, but he showed his impotence. The
    rally was attended by those who were made to come. It is a
    uncertain how many members Milosevic's party has. The rally in
    Belgrade, according to objective estimates, was attended by
    between 40 and 50 thousand people,'' said Kostunica. Kostunica
    believes that the aim of the pro-Milosevic rally was to whitewash
    the ``electoral theft'' while waiting for the recommendations by
    the OSCE.  He speculated that Milosevic might accept an OSCE
    recommendation and restore the true results of November 17,
    claiming he did that through legal institutions; or he might use
    repressive measures, such as instituting a ban on protests and
    proclaiming a state of emergency. ``In any case, he will lose,''
    Kostunica concluded.


    Dozens of thousands of students, lecturers and citizens of
    Belgrade gathered today in front of the School of Philosophy to
    protest once again the nullification of November 17 electoral
    results. After speeches by a number of prominent Belgraders, the
    students heard messages of support from the National Association
    of Students of France, a group of lecturers and students from
    Alzace, New York's New School for Social Research, and the rock
    groups R.E.M. and Nirvana. The students then set out on their
    march through Belgrade, whose aim today is the ``decontamination
    of the place where the rally 'For Serbia' was staged.''  They used
    brooms and various cleaning aids to ``decontaminate'' the place
    Milosevic and his clique stood on.


    A delegation of the Student Protest '96 had talks in Podgorica
    today with Speaker of Montenegrin Parliament Svetozar Marovic,
    reads a statement by the Information Service of the Student
    Protest. The statement said that the students met with unexpected
    understanding and coincidence of views from the other side. Both
    parties concluded that the Serbian authorities' disregard for the
    electoral will of the voters can hamper the reintegration of
    Yugoslavia into the international community for a long time, as
    well as jeopardize the Federation itself.


    ``If there is no efficient reaction from Serbian government bodies
    and co-operation to promptly re-integrate into the interantional
    community, I shall exert the authority given to me by the
    Constitution and protect the interests of Montenegro,'' said last
    night Montenegtin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic in his closing
    speech to the Montenegrin Parliament. ``The outer wall of
    sanctions is not a Montenegrin problem, but a problem of the other
    federal unit, influencing, of course, our own condition. We shall,
    together with Serbia, try and solve this so as to free the Federal
    Republic of Yugoslavia of this burden... The foreign policy is
    divided among the federal and republic states, who have autonomous
    rights and authority in matters of foreign policy.  [They] also
    [have] the right to make international contracts. This is the
    constitutional capacity I am counting on, in case Serbia fails to
    produce an efficient response and co-operation to realize the
    crucial state priority, which is full reintegration into the
    international community. It is only natural that I will use
    another route, relying on my constitutionally guaranteed
    authority, to protect Montenegrin interests,'' said Djukanovic.


    Felipe Gonzalez, as head of the OSCE commisson which visited
    Yugoslavia last week, will make his report on the local election
    proceedings in Serbia public on December 27, the independent daily
    ``Nasa Borba'' learned from Belgrade diplomatic circles today. The
    report will confirm the present OSCE and European Union position,
    highly critical of Milosevic's government, and demand that the
    Serbian authorities annul the re-talilored electoral results and
    embark on a more extensive democratization, ``Nasa Borba'' has
    learned from a high-ranking Western diplomat accredited in


    Albanian Students from Kosovo called on Ibrahim Rugova to step up
    resistance to Serbian President Milosevic's rule, FoNet reports
    AFP as saying. Some 600 Albanian students signed a petition
    demanding an urgent session of the self-proclaimed Albanian
    parliament in Kosovo. The petition also calls on the new leader of
    the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo Adem Demaci to join the talks.
    The students demand that the Serbian authorities revoke censorship
    on the Albanian press in Kosovo. They also call on Rugova to order
    all education institutions in the province to be granted autonomy
    from state interference. Milosevic and Rugova signed an agreement
    on the return of Kosovo Albanian students to schools in September,
    but that has remained a dead letter so far, since no agreement has
    been reached on how to effect this.

    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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