Foreign Agencies on February 10th, 1997


BELGRADE,10 FEB 97 - Thousands of Belgrade university students march through the center of the Yugoslav capital during a protest February 10. Serbia's political opposition said on the eve of a triumph over President Slobodan Milosevic's ruling socialists that the main battles for democratic reform were still to come.

ev/Photo by Petar Kujundzic REUTERS

Students Mass in Belgrade Streets Ahead of Vote

(16:14 02/10/97) BELGRADE (Reuter) - One day ahead of action by parliament to reinstate opposition election gains, 20,000 Belgrade students Monday continued to pressure Serbia's authoritarian President Slobodan Milosevic.

The official news agency Tanjug reported that a parliamentary legislative committee had approved a draft law recognising the disputed poll results ahead of Tuesday's vote.

Hours before thousands gathered in central Belgrade for 83rd opposition demonstrations, witnesses said at least 20,000 students took part in an eight-km (five-mile) march, blewing whistles and horns, beating drums and waving flags.

They vowed to keep up their daily rallies, now in their 12th week, until all demands for political reform were met.

"If tomorrow the protests were to stop they would not have been protests of tolerance, but of weakness," said Cedomir Jovanovic, a student organiser.

In yet another of their daily imaginative actions against the authorities, hundreds of deans and professors blocked the central administration office of the University of Belgrade.

They inundiated the secretariat by each submitting an individual official demand that the socialist-appointed diehard rector resign.

In more evidence of Western displeasure with Milosevic, British Ambassador to Yugoslavia Ivor Roberts visited the student leadership and handed them two personal computers.
Roberts' show of support for the students was another blow to the beleaguered Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic who once basked in international support after the Dayton peace accord he helped engineer ended the war in Bosnia in December 1995.

(c) 1997 Reuters Limited.

Protests continue in Belgrade
February 10, 1997
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT)

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (Reuter)
In another demonstration, at least 20,000 students took part in a five-mile march, blowing whistles and horns, beating drums and waving flags. They vowed to keep up their daily rallies until all demands for political reform were met.

In a third demonstration, hundreds of deans and professors blocked the central administration office of the University of Belgrade demanding that the socialist-appointed rector resign.

Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.
(c) 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.

Miami Herald
Published Monday, February 10, 1997, in the Miami Herald
Niceties return in Belgrade after decade of surliness
Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia
"Until now, I felt that the city had been dead for years," said Ljubica Simovic, a 42-year-old art historian who now works in a store. "But now our lives have been changed. This great spirit we used to have is back, and the students are really full of humor."
Dusan Trifunovic, a 43-year-old engineer, hardly ever misses a protest. "The atmosphere is great. For the first time in many years people are smiling here," he said. "I see friends that I haven't seen since school days. We march together and are rediscovering our sense of humor."

The protesters are united in their contempt for Milosevic's Socialists, former Communists, but satire and mockery have supplanted anger as one of the opposition's main weapons in this capital of 1.5 million people.

The humor is reminiscent of Belgrade's cosmopolitan past, when sharp-witted artists found ways to poke fun at their Communist rulers.

Pro-democracy supporters carry signs reading: "I think, therefore I walk," referring to their daily protests as "walks" to circumvent an official, but not strictly imposed, ban on demonstrations.

One sign proclaimed: "Johnny Walker is the only walker this regime likes," referring to the drinking habits of many government officials.

Students in particular have won admiration for their wit, which has created a small industry churning out badges and posters.

Facing cordons of riot police, students played volleyball while wearing water polo caps. They placed mirrors in front of police. They tried to hypnotize them. They brought brass bands. They played chess.

Historian Latinka Perovic said the attitude of the young people provides hope for the future: "In the shadow of war and general degradation, cut off from the world, a generation has grown up . . . that has mocked the hypocrisy and lies and refused to take them as a principle on which society and its institutions function."

Copyright (c) 1997 The Miami Herald

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