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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 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.



    Despite poor weather conditions -- freezing temperatures, strong
    wind and snow -- dozens of thousands of demonstrators took to the
    streets today to protest the nullification of the local electoral
    results. In the course of their march, they hurled snowballs at
    the building of the state television, breaking lower floor window-
    panes. At the 36th gathering on the Republic Square, Zajedno
    leaders congratulated Belgraders on having defended their city
    from the participants in the pro-Milosevic rally. Leader of the
    Democratic Party Zoran Djindjic called the state-owned media's
    reports on yesterday's events criminal, pointing out that some of
    the journalists should be sued for libel and malicious
    misinformation. Leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement Vuk
    Draskovic said that Belgraders yesterday averted the likelihood of
    a civil war and pre-empted future attempts at instigating one. He
    characterized Milosevic's speech as alarming, for it revealed
    there are ``many more sinister intentions on his mind.''
    Milosevic announced war to the Western world in his speech, said
    Draskovic. Zajedno leaders called on their supporters to continue
    with the peaceful protests up until the electoral results are


    While most European newspapers are skipping their Dec. 25 issue in
    honor of Christmas, front pages of the leading French dailies
    carried news today of yesterday's dramatic events in Belgrade,
    reports for FoNet Mirko Klarin, correspondent of the daily ``Nasa
    Borba.'' ``Liberation,'' one of the most respected European
    dailies, founded by Albert Camus, said that two Serbias met face
    to face on Belgrade streets yesterday: one young and urban in a
    quest for change; the other worn-our and peasant, defending the
    status-quo. ``Liberation'' said it is thanks to the opposition
    leaders ``who did everything to avert incidents,'' and also to the
    supporters of the democratic movement themselves, that the worst
    was avoided by a hair's breadth, leaving the authorities without
    any pretext to ban the protests. Foreign reporters were surprised
    at the unexpectedly low turn-out of Milosevic's supporters.
    According to Reuters, there were 40,000 of them; AP reports 50,000
    and the most generous French press estimates ``fewer than
    100,000,'' noting that there were about three times as many
    Zajedno supporters who took to the streets yesterday. European
    media all noted that the local state-owned television did not
    hesitate to report half a million Milosevic's supporters.


    All leading US dailies carried today front page reports on
    yesterday's events in Belgrade, reports for FoNet Slobodan
    Pavlovic, correspondent of ``Nasa Borba.''  John Pomfret, writing
    for the ``Washington Post,'' described yesterday as ``a day eerily
    reminiscent of those leading up to the overthrow of Romanian
    Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his execution on
    Christmas Day 1989, [as] one opposition supporter was shot in the
    head by a man standing in a crowd of Milosevic loyalists, who had
    been bused into Belgrade by his Socialist Party of Serbia and
    supplied with sticks and metal rods.'' Rudolf Perina, Assistant
    Secretary of State and one of the main architects of the US policy
    towards Yugoslavia, told the CBS that Milosevic's was a true
    recipe for catastrophe, confirming US worries that the Serbian
    authorities had no intention of resolving the crisis issuing from
    the nullification of the electoral victories of November 17 in a
    peaceful manner. There were rumors in Washington yesterday of a
    possible cessation of diplomatic relations with Belgrade, which
    have in fact been reduced to a minimum for years now, in addition
    to unilateral economic sanctions the US have imposed on


    Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement today in reaction to
    yesterday's events in Belgrade, reports FoNet's correspondent
    Branko Stosic. The statement, made public on Russian state
    television by Head of the Russian Department for Press and
    Information, Andrej Tarasov, said that the present crisis in
    Serbia must be overcome through political dialogue of all
    democratic forces in the country and urged avoidance of violence.
    Official Moscow stressed that any foreign interference into
    Serbia's internal affairs is unacceptable. Russia also reiterated
    its readiness to help strengthen stability in former Yugoslavia.
    Moscow again emphasized its belief that -- in the interest of
    peace in the Balkans and the whole of Europe -- the international
    community should help the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia out of
    the difficult consequences of the recent wars in the region, the
    sanctions imposed on FR Yugoslavia and its isolation by the
    international community.


    ``The magnificent rally of Serbian citizens [yesterday] confirmed
    that Serbia is based on the ideals of peace, freedom and
    independence and that it opposes terrorism,'' said a statement by
    the Managing Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) today.
    ``Serbia gave its full support to President Slobodan Milosevic and
    sent a clear message that a foreign hand shall never rule it...
    Zajedno leaders, ordering the squads of their aggressive terrorist
    groups, showed Serbian citizens and the whole world that their
    policy is a scramble for power regardless of the price they have
    to pay. Their method is violence and terror...  The SPS harshly
    condemns attempts by the Zajedno leaders and their followers to
    provoke bloodshed and large-scale conflicts. The SPS thanks all
    citizens, its members and sympathizers who, by their participation
    and dignified manner, proved to the world that Serbia is
    relentless in the defense of its policy of peace, freedom,
    independence and dignity of its people,'' went the statement.


    The Steering Board of the Student Protest '96 sent a letter to
    President Milosevic blaming him for yesterday's violence in the
    streets of Belgrade. They held him responsible manipulating his
    ill-informed supporters and police forces in an attempt to provoke
    a situation which would give him a pretext to bring tanks into the
    streets of Belgrade as he did in 1991. They called on him to
    fulfill his promise to them to sort out the crisis while staying
    strictly within his legal and constitutional powers.


    At its session today, the Nis Electoral Commission ratified
    mandates of 8 more Socialist representatives in the City Assembly.
    The vice-president of the Democratic Party's Nis City Board told
    Radio B92 the commission announced that the presidents of
    electoral boards will confirm the changes that have been made in
    the electoral minutes by signing them. Thus the claim by the
    president of the Nis Electoral Commission that the results have
    been retailored in the polling stations and not during sessions
    held by the commission will be ratified by a criminal act.


    Since opposition representatives have refused to join the
    discussion on organizing the Parliamentary panel proposed at a
    recent session of the Serbian Parliament, the decisions concerning
    such a panel were unanimously made by two representatives of the
    Socialists and the New Democracy Party, notoriously close to the
    governing circles. The two of them agreed that the decisions of
    the panel should be made by consensus, that representatives should
    rotate in chairing the discussions, and that the sessions should
    be broadcast live by the state-owned television. The two gave the
    opposition parties till Friday to hand in their proposals on how
    the panel should operate and what issues it ought to consider.
    Asked whether he thought a two-member panel made any sense, the
    New Democracy representative said: ``We should be patient and wait
    for the other parties to reply.''

    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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