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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 3.30 PM), December 28, 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 3.30 PM


    Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez's confirmation in
    Geneva yesterday that the opposition coalition Zajedno had won in
    the local elections in 14 major cities in Serbia was the headline
    news in British electronic media news programs, reports Tamara
    Milanovic for FoNet. The news was accompanied with footage of the
    scenes from Belgrade streets where the protests have continued
    despite a massive deployment of special forces to prevent the
    protest marches. The scenes showing the police beating up
    demonstrators and foreign cameramen were broadcast on British TV
    news as clear evidence that Serbian President Milosevic obviously
    does not want the world to know what is going on in Belgrade.

    In a statement to the British Channel Four, OSCE Chairman Flavio
    Cotti underlined that Felipe Gonzalez did not go to Belgrade at
    OSCE's urging, but in response to Milosevic's invitation and that
    the organization gave this mission a mandate only after Belgrade
    had demanded it. Former peace mediator for ex-Yugoslavia Lord
    David Owen said that the OSCE's proposal gave the Serbian
    President a chance to embark on democratization of the country's
    political life and introduction of market economy in Serbia.
    Judging that this is the greatest test for Milosevic since the end
    of the war in Bosnia, Lord Owen remarked that the Serbian
    President still has absolute power in Serbia: if power corrupts,
    absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The Foreign Office condemned Serbian authorities for the use of
    force, estimating that such actions can do harm to Yugoslavia's
    already rocky relations with the international community. Official
    London demanded that Belgrade respond appropriately to all
    efforts, including those of the OSCE, to resolve the crisis


    Most of the influential Russian media judge that the official
    Belgrade had decided in advance not to accept the OSCE's position,
    reports for FoNet Branko Stosic. The Serbian opposition and the
    participants in massive anti-government protests have received
    staunch international support in the OSCE's recognition that the
    opposition was denied its victory. As far as Belgrade authorities
    are concerned, however, this will be all the satisfaction they are
    likely to get, assess the Russian media. Deployment of mass
    special police squads on the streets of Belgrade, who now
    practically rival the demonstrators in their numbers, shows that
    the authorities have embarked on a show-down with the protesters.

    While the official Moscow remains silent about the final statement
    by the OSCE, Moscow media assess that the turning point was
    Milosevic's realization that he would not have the Spanish
    socialist's support. The daily Svedovnja says this is the point
    when the Serbian authorities decided to announce that the
    resolution of the crisis belongs to Serbian internal affairs. The
    daily Izvestia said the police were given a signal to embark on an
    active show-down with the demonstrators only after Milosevic had
    taken this position. The commercial television network NTV said
    Milosevic found himself cornered once the OSCE's position was made
    public. There is no doubt that Serbian authorities will not accept
    recommendations of Gonzalez's mission to revoke the nullification
    and restore the local electoral results and Zajedno's victory,
    NTV's reporter from the Balkans said. Yugoslav Foreign Minister
    Milutinovic's statement last night was obviously meant to buy the
    regime some time. The actions by the police deployed in Belgrade
    show how this time has been used so far.


    The Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a stern protest to
    Belgrade authorities at the police beating of several journalists
    covering opposition demonstrations. AFP reports that the CPJ
    statement observed that, judging by the police brutality used
    against reporters and the confiscation of several journalists'
    cameras, video tapes and films, Serbian authorities seem to be
    carrying out a state policy of discouraging both local and foreign
    media coverage of public events. The CPJ statement mentions 7
    incidents which occurred on December 26 and 27, when reporters
    were beaten up and their equipment damaged. Some of the
    journalists had to seek medical assistance.


    The sole independent electronic medium in Montenegro, Radio
    ``Antena M'' in Podgorica, has had its frequency license revoked.
    The radio's previous two applications for the extension of their
    frequency license went unanswered. This radio was the only
    electronic medium to broadcast live interviews and statements by
    opposition representatives and, in co-operation with Radio B92, to
    daily inform about the latest events in Serbia.


    Despite extremely poor weather conditions, coalition Zajedno held
    protest rallies last night in both Zajecar and Pirot. In both
    cities the turn-out was some 1,000. The marches in the two cities
    went without any incidents and the police forces monitoring them
    were scarce.


    Belgrade NGO Information Center reports a testimony by a Belgrader
    who was beaten up by the police in downtown Belgrade after they
    had prevented another of by-now usual peaceful protest marches.
    According to Zoran Nikolic, around 17:15 on December 26, he and a
    group of citizens standing on the sidewalk near the Balkans Hotel
    were attacked by the police for shouting ``Let's go marching! .''
    The police, who had formed a cordon, turned around towards the
    group and started beating the demonstrators, both those on the
    sidewalk and those who happened to be on the road, claims Nikolic.
    He said he was hit on the back of the head and fell to the ground.
    The police then hit him with clubs and kicked him twice on the
    head, after which he started losing consciousness. One of the
    police lifted him up, pulled him to the Balkans Hotel and told him
    to take shelter there. He was later taken to the Trauma Center
    along with 2 other casualties.


    Secretary General of the Islamic Conference Hamid al Gabid said
    that better conditions now exist to influence the Federal Republic
    of Yugoslavia to grant the Sandzak Moslems their rights. These
    conditions have arisen out of FR Yugoslavia's interest in re-
    establishing relations with Islamic countries. The level and speed
    at which this process will take place will depend on Belgrade's
    attitude to Sandzak.

    Prepared by: Aleksandra Scepanovic
    Edited by: Ian Balfour

    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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