News for February 4th, 1997
A few hours after the rally of coalition Zajedno in Republic Square in
Belgrade, around 7:30 pm an incident occurred when groups of hooligans
started throwing stones at policemen and maltreating citizens. According to
the report of Radio B92, some of the hooligans were arrested. The hooligans,
mostly drunk, started breaking windows of passing cars. At that moment,
there were no policemen around. The youngsters broke the windows in a car
and when the driver got out of the car, they started beating him. At that
moment, a young man drew a pistol and fired it into the air five or six
times, retreating afterwards in the direction of the shopping center.
The hooligans stopped a trolleybus passing by Republic Square, with several policemen in it, by pulling its poles off the wires. They threw several stones into the trolleybus, so the policemen too fired into the air. This very tense situation lasted for some 20 minutes, after which time the police received a reinforcement, and several hundred policemen cleared Republic Square, thus ending the incident. There are still no official reports about the casualties. According to the report of Radio B92, a man, probably hit with a stone, was lying in Republic Square.
Oppositional coalition Zajedno informs the public that groups of identically dressed youngsters, who maltreat and provoke citizens, have appeared at several spots in Belgrade this evening. Coalition Zajedno appealed to citizens not to respond to any provocations, calling upon them to continue their peaceful protest. Coalition Zajedno will, using the information and photographs it has received from citizens and reporters, identify the provokers from Belgrade streets and publicly announce the facts about them, reads the announcement of the coalition.
Three policemen burst into the building of the School of Philosophy in Belgrade just after 20:00 this evening, since, as they said, they were provoked by shouts from the windows of that building, says a member of the Student Security, who was standing at the entrance of the School of Philosophy, for Radio Index. According to the statement of this student, two policemen kicked the glass door at the entrance and broke it, although the student security had warned them that they must not enter the building without authorization. The same student, a psychology major, says that the policemen looked completely confused and frightened and without control over their own actions, and that one of them was shouting: "You want to shoot at us!" None of the present students had heard shouts from the windows, he points out. A professor who was in the building as well says he told the policemen that there was nobody except the students in the building, and that they were not shooting at anybody.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic sent a letter today to Mirko Marjanovic, president of the Serbian Government, demanding that a special law should be passed, which would declare the results of local elections, according to the conclusions of the OSCE delegation, final.
A delegation of Belgrade students and lawyers talked today with the Colonel Sreten Lukic, the Assistant Chief of the Belgrade police, demanding the release of the arrested students and citizens, as well as the names of those who ordered the break-in of the police at the School of Philosophy two days ago. More than 20000 Belgrade students have "besieged" the building of the city police today, on the 75th day of the protest, because of their brutal interventions in the past two days in which dozens of citizens and students were injured and arrested. According to the words of one of the members of the student delegation Cedomir Jovanovic, the delegations were informed that 25 persons were arrested in the night between February 2nd and 3rd, and 18 on February 3rd. "We were informed that violation charges were brought against ten persons, and a criminal against one", Jovanovic said. He pointed out that eight of the defendants were students, and that only three had attorneys. After the meeting with the Colonel Lukic, which lasted longer than an hour, the members of the student delegation told the press that the representatives of the Belgrade police had no answers to their questions and that, allegedly, they weren't familiar with the police intrusion to the School of Philosophy.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) condemned today the use of force against demonstrations on the part of the Yugoslav authorities, and called upon the government to begin a dialogue with the opposition.
Dragan Petkovic, the Public Attorney of Serbia, will, "today or tomorrow", make the decision about the suggestion of the City Electoral Committee in Belgrade to start the procedure for the protection of legality against the verdicts of the First Municipal Court in Belgrade and the Supreme Court of Serbia in the dispute concerning the winner in the local election in Belgrade, reports the "Vecernje Novosti" newspaper. The "Vecernje Novosti" points out that the Public Attorney has already rejected to start such a procedure once, during the previous "rounds" of the dispute about the election.
Mirko Marjanovic, the President of the Serbian Government announced that the proposal of the special law on the proclamation of the results of parts of the local elections will most probably be delivered to the Serbian Assembly tomorrow. In the announcement to the Radio-television of Serbia, Marjanovic confirmed that he recieved the letter of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. The President of the Serbian Government stated that he heartily supports the initiative of the President Milosevic.
Miladin Zivotic, the chairman of the Belgrade Circle, stated that the West should support coalition Zajedno so that democracy could be established in Serbia, but he also made some negative remarks about the opposition. "We do have the opposition, but we do not have the alternative for Milosevic," said Zivotic for the World Service of BBC last evening, pointing out the differences between the leaders of coalition Zajedno.
Dragan Tomic, president of Serbian Parliament, talked today with a delegation of the European socialist Democratic Party from European Parliament, announced the information service of Serbian Parliament. In the course of the meeting, Tomic confirmed that the leadership of Serbia accepted the report of Felipe Gonzales for the OSCE and said that only the legal solution of the crisis was acceptable and that efforts were made with the aim of ending that process.
More than 500 students of the 6th Belgrade high school joined the Student Protest around 11:00 today, which was a gesture of protest against police attacks on citizens during the past two days. The students said that their school had not gone on strike, becuse the teachers were intimidated by the headmaster's threats that they would be dismissed if they did not give lectures.
Representatives of all syndicates and boards in Serbia in the sphere of education, which are on strike, chose today the members of the team which will negotiate with representatives of the Government about the payment of salaries and the increase of the wages.
Ivan Kovacevic, spokesman for the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), said today that coalition Zajedno would continue the peaceful protests in Belgrade and 90 other cities and towns in Serbia, in spite of the police repression.
The Initiative board of the Association of Judges (still in the process of founding) appealed today to the President of Serbia, the President of the Government and the Minister of Internal Affairs to withdraw the armed forces from Belgrade streets immediately and to enter a dialogue with their people and with the opposing parties.
The Association of Serbian composers protested today against the violence committed by the police and against the burst into the building of the School of Philosophy. They demanded immediate termination of the "state terror". The composers request that all the demands of the students of Belgrade University and the University of Arts should be fulfilled.
The Federal board of the Independent syndicate of workers employed in the textile, leather and shoe industry warned today the presidents and the prime ministers of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as the President of the Federal Government, that the workers would go on general strike in order to protect their elementary rights of biological survival.
The Yugoslav cinema library announced that, because of the interruption of FEST, no films would be shown in their cinema, but other departments of the library would continue their regular activities.
Coalition Zajedno demanded today that Zoran Sokolovic, the Minister of Internal Affairs, should resign immediately because of the brutal assault of "his thugs" on Serbian citizens who were demonstrating peacefully. Coalition Zajedno announced that they would use all available means to identify those who had committed those crimes.
Aleksandar Petrovic, a member of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), died yesterday of the consequences of a heart attack he had had in the street during the brutalities he witnessed on Sunday night, announced the SPO today. Although Aleksandar Petrovic was not bashed, we have reason to consider him a victim of the police violence in the streets of Belgrade, since it was these tragical events that caused citizens' excitement and terror, and they unfortunately costed Petrovic his life, reads the announcement of the SPO.
Prof. Vladimir Paunovic PhD, president of the Serbian Association of medical doctors, stated that the Association strongly protested against the brutal police attacks on citizens.
The Council of independent syndicates of Yugoslavia expressed their concern about the brutality and arrogance towards dissatisfied workers, citizens and students, and demanded that the suggestions of the OSCE delegation should be immediately accepted, and that necessary political and economic reforms should be introduced immediately.
The lectures at the School of Philosophy in Novi Sad ceased today, which is a gesture of protest against the police violence and a sign of support for their colleagues and the citizens of Belgrade, who were brutally beaten by the police during the past two days because they participated in the peaceful demonstrations.
The Serbian Liberal Party (SLS) appealed to the citizens today to continue their determined resistance to the "Milosevic's tyrany".
The School Council (NNV) of the School of Philosophy supported today the resolution of the Assembly of the Deans to cease all working activities at this school, thus protesting the intrusion of the police on this school's building, and the beating of the students and the citizens in the past two days. Marija Bogdanovic, the Dean of the School of Philosophy, said on a meeting of the NNV that she expects other schools of the Belgrade University (BU) to make similar resolutions. The members of the NNV of the School of Philosophy demand the officials to establish the facts regarding the intrusion of the police to this school and the violation of the University autonomy, and also to find and hold responsible the culprits behind the "shameful decision" for the break-in of the police and the physical molesting of the students.
The Institute for Philosophy and the Social Theory of the University in Belgrade has, starting today, ceased operation, thus protesting the brutal beating of the students, the professors and other citizens, as well as the break-in of the police into the building of the School of Philosophy. "We decisively demand the culprits to be found and all those behind these shameful activities to be held responsible", it is stated in the Institute's announcement.
The Organizing Board of the Student Protest in Subotica announced today that "the participants in the protest are disgusted with the fact that the current regime has commenced mass beating of the citizens throughout Serbia for the bare purpose of maintaining power".
Yves Dutrio, the representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated today that the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition will, on the invitation of Herve de Charette, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, soon travel to Paris, AFP reports. De Charette issued the invitation to Zoran Djindjic, Vuk Draskovic and Vesna Pesic to Paris yesterday, in the announcement in which the latest use of force against the demonstrators in Belgrade was acridly reprimanded.
Five central city municipalities in which the opposition won in the recently held local elections, directed a bitter protest to the departments of internal affairs (MUP) located on the teritories of these municipalities, because of the attack on and the brutal beating of the citizens in the night between February 2nd and 3rd. In an open letter, signed by the Presidents of the municipalities Vracar, Stari Grad, Savski Venac, Zvezdara and Vozdovac, it is stressed that the members of the MUP are in this way "breaking the law and endangering the lives and security of the citizens and are confirming that they are not at the service of the people, but of those who are breaking the law, being contemptuous and disrespectful of the freely expressed will of the citizens".
A group of mathematicians from the Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) protested today because of the unjustified use of the police force and issued a demand to give up "the policy of mace which satanizes the honorable and respected people, students and professors, and turns them into objects of police brutality". The letter, supporting all the demands of the Student Protest, was so far signed by 23 members and outside associates of the Mathematical Institute.
Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno" said today at the 77th protest against the disrespect for the local elections' results that he still hasn't seen the letter of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic made public just before the commencement of the today's protest.
Budimir Babovic, the former Chief of the Yugoslav Bureau of the Interpol and the former Vice-president of the Interpol told the Beta news agency today that the actions of the police in Belgrade in the previous days "were not only brutal and cruel, but were also opposed to the legal authorities of the police". He estimated that the demand for the resignation of Zoran Sokolovic, the Minister of the Police, is legitimate and he suggested that a committee be formed that will investigate the responsibility for the illegal actions of the police.
The citizens of Sabac protested the annulment of the second rounds of the local elections in Serbia for the 66th time. A long lasting walk through the city streets wasn't hindered by the sparse police forces, and those present at the protest rally were addressed by the director Zelimir Zilnik who made a film about the electoral theft and the demonstrations in Sabac. The citizens were also signing "A suggestion to the Serbian Assembly to raise the initiative for the revocation of the President of the Republic" at the central city square, because of his violation of the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Serbia. A surge of strikes is spreading through Sabac, so, apart from teachers, the lawyers went on strike today.
The New Democracy (ND) announced today that they expect the commencement of a political dialogue on the most significant issues of democratization, the freedom of the media, the electoral system and the necessary reforms. Commenting on the proposal of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for the Government to pass a law on the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections according to the findings of the OSCE mission, the ND reminded that it has always supported the acception of the voters' will and the Gonzales' report, it is said in the announcement of the ND.
The Protest Board of the students of the University in Nis demanded the punishment of all those who partook in the beatings of the citizens in Belgrade and the intrusion of the police on the School of Philosophy "either as commanders or immediate executioners".
Dusan Vasiljevic, the spokesman of the Student Protest 96/97 estimated today that the letter of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to the Prime-minister Mirko Marjanovic is "a step which may solve the crisis in the country".
The Belgrade Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has "strongly supported" the initiative of the Serbian President sent to the government and estimated that this initiative is "the best legal way to overcome the difficult political crisis in Serbia which appeared after the second rounds of the local elections".
Thousands of citizens of Kragujevac, supporters of the "Zajedno" coalition assembled today at the protest rally and walked the central city streets peacefully. The gathered citizens greeted Borivoj Radic, the President of the City Government, with enthusiasm when he announced that the President of the Republic, Slobodan Milosevic, recognized the results of the second rounds of the local elections.
Dragor Hiber, the President of the Legal Council of the "Zajedno" coalition stated today that this coalition will demand that the findings of the Gonzales' committee be applied in the whole.
The citizens of Belgrade did make noise in almost all parts of the city for the duration of the main information program of the state-controlled television, but the noise was a lot weaker than in the previous days.
The tonight's 79th protest rally of the "Zajedno" coalition and the citizens of Nis commenced with the reading of the President's letter to the Prime-minister Mirko Marjanovic, regarding the local elections.
Zoran Djindjic, the President of the Democratic Party estimated today at an unscheduled press conference that, by recognition of the electoral results, forerun in the letter of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia will approach the solution "of this most difficult part of the postelectoral crisis", but he declared that the protests will not cease until the liberation of the media.
The Belgrade students requested Milan Kuljaca, the General Manager of the Student Center, to receive them tomorrow at 11:00, the Information Service of the Student Protest 96/97 communicated to the press. The statement writes that the reception was requested for the purpose of inspecting the documentation connected with the operation of the center, an institution in charge of the student standard.
The Student Protest 96/97 invited all the judges of the Supreme and the Constitutional Court of Serbia today, as well as the lawyers, attorneys in the FR Yugoslavia and the professors of the Belgrade Law School to take part in the public discussion concerning the decisions of the City Electoral Committee of Belgrade and the verdicts of the courts regarding the local elections in Serbia, which will take place on Friday. The discussion will be held in the amphitheater 5 of the Law School at 17:00.
Slobodan Vucetic, the Judge of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, estimated that the latest move of the Serbian President, concerned with the recognition of the electoral results is unconstitutional. Milosevic's proposal for the government to pass a law by which the local elections' results would be recognized according the findings of the OSCE mission, would be legally possible "only if the report of the OSCE committee had the status of an international law act, in accordance with the Constitution of the FR Yugoslavia (the ratified international contract) and not the expert finding of the OSCE committee", Vucetic told the tomorrow's "Nasa Borba".
The Executive Board of the Belgrade Assembly supported the proposal of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic today that the Assembly adopt a special law by which the results of the local elections according to the findings of the OSCE will be recognized.