Foreign Agencies on January 27th, 1997

Hundreds of Thousands Join March in Serbia

(07:51 01/27/97) BELGRADE (Reuter) - More than 300,000 people filed solemnly through central Belgrade on Monday in a march called by the powerful Serbian Orthodox church, which is now siding with demonstrators in their protests against election fraud.

Witnesses said the march was the biggest since half a million people turned out on Orthodox New Year's Eve two weeks ago and showed support still ran strong for the pro-democracy movement after more than two months of protests.

Earlier, police withdrew a cordon blocking student pro-democracy demonstrators who had held a non-stop rally for eight days in a test of will with the authorities.

Patriarch Pavle, who is in his 80s, led the church procession flanked by about 20 priests chanting Orthodox hymns and carrying a banner of Saint Sava, patron saint of education, on whose holy day the march was held.

The witnesses said the march, which swelled rapidly in size, began at 7:30 a.m. at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and made its way quietly through sunny, early morning streets to the Saint Sava Temple about two miles away.
Once police had withdrawn their cordon during the night some 50,000 students and supporters swept triumphantly through the city in a boisterous, whistle-blowing march.

"This is our great victory...I feel glorious and victorious," said student Djordjevic Todorovic.

There were shouts of "Let's go for a walk" and "Let's go to Dedinje" -- a reference to the Belgrade neighbourhood where President Slobodan Milosevic lives, as the students marched.

At the head of one column, marchers carried two Serbian flags, a statue of Jesus Christ and a candle.

The students later linked up with the church procession and student organisers served as orderlies for crowd control while traffic policemen looked on.
The peaceful atmosphere of both marches on Monday was in contrast to clashes that have erupted in recent days as tempers flared after 10 weeks of protests.

Religious March Backs Serb Cause
Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 27, 1997 5:48 am EST

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP)
In contrast to the noisy pro-democracy demonstrations of students and opposition parties, the procession to mark the holiday of St. Sava, the founding father of the Serbian Orthodox church, wove silently through the heart of the capital.

The only sounds were the chanting of St. Sava's liturgy by the dozens of Orthodox priests in flowing robes who headed the procession, and an occasional burst of applause for Patriarch Pavle, head of Serbia's Orthodox Church.

Pavle, who supports the pro-democracy demonstrations, called today's procession in part to see if he could pass through a police cordon that had blocked students from marching in the center of the capital.

Indeed, riot police withdrew at 4 a.m., leaving the way free for the students and, four hours later, for Pavle and the hordes who followed him.
While daily Belgrade rallies have shrunk to 15,000 to 20,000 people, tens of thousands came out to support the students, the source of much of the wit and goodwill behind the largely peaceful uprising.

The protest has spread to different social groups, including even active and retired army officers, professors, judges, doctors, athletes, models and others. Many of them joined today's procession.

(c) Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

100,000 March in Belgrade
Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 27, 1997 2:38 pm EST

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP)
Pavle, who has supported the political demonstrations, wanted to see if the procession could pass through a police cordon that has blocked students from marching in the center of the capital for a week.

Indeed, riot police withdrew at 4 a.m.

Students joined the procession and chanted "Victory, Victory."

In St. Sava Cathedral, the biggest Orthodox church in the Balkans, Pavle praised demonstrators' "democratic expression of their will."

"Today, eyes are watching us from the sky and ground and telling us to endure on the holy and righteous road," he said.

(c) Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

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