Foreign Agencies on January 14th, 1997

Protests Sweep Through Europe
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 1997 5:26 pm EST

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- First it was Serbia, where students and opposition supporters have protested nearly every day for the past eight weeks against the authoritarian government of President Slobodan Milosevic.

Inspired by their Serb neighbors, Bulgaria's opposition leaders launched street protests last week, demanding that the Socialist government call early elections.
Although students and opposition supporters across Serbia have confronted heavily armed riot police, the protests have been largely peaceful. One demonstrator died in Belgrade after being beaten by Milosevic supporters.

"Those Yugoslavs, they are great," Boris Malkus, a 77-year-old Moscow engineer, said after weeks of daily protest coverage on Russian television.

Serbia's protesters were the talk of Bulgaria for weeks, until people's outrage over new price hikes and general poverty drove them into the streets, too.
Students in Belgrade have lent many engaging touches to the Serbian protests. They wear costumes and masks of despised leaders. They walk in circles like chained prisoners. And, like students of the 1968 Prague Spring demonstrations, they give flowers to police.

Students in Bulgaria borrowed many of these touches when they joined protests on Sunday.

(c) Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

Holiday Means Work for Protesters
Biggest Turnout Yet in Belgrade Keeps Pressure on Milosevic
By Jonathan C. Randal
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, January 14 1997; Page A11
The Washington Post

Throngs of students and a coalition of opposition political parties, known as Together, have shown great ingenuity in maintaining public support by keeping the demonstrations going -- some days dwindling to a hard core of only several thousand protesters but always providing an unpleasant surprise for a government that appears to be trying to wait them out.

The daily demonstrations, staged in defiance of an official ban, have settled into a chaotic cocktail of taunting humor and high-decibel noise. Ear-splitting techno music competes with wild, thumping Serbian tunes, firecrackers, horns, whistles, drums and other noisemaking devices to keep up the demonstrators' spirits in what some observers have nicknamed "the revolution of derision."
Students are credited with dreaming up the more imaginative schemes to bedevil dour riot police, who are kept on constant duty trying to bottle up the demonstrators in pedestrian streets and prevent them from stopping traffic.

Twice in the past week, students have outsmarted the police and roamed the streets, first in the early hours of Friday morning after the police had withdrawn for the night, then starting early on Saturday evening. On the latter occasion, police chased the students down narrow streets but eventually became winded and went home.

Taking a different approach, some female students have all but cuddled the helmeted and shield-carrying riot police in a good-natured fraternization effort.

The students are not alone in their ingenuity. At one point last week, dozens of motorists succeeded in blocking traffic on Belgrade's main thoroughfares by pretending that their cars had broken down simultaneously.

(c) Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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