News for March 9th, 1997

Today, at Republic Square in Belgrade, before approximately 50.000 people, somewhat after 12:30, the rally of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno" commenced, marking the six year anniversary of the March 9th demonstrations 1991. Those assembled were first addressed by Vesna Pesic, one of the coalition's leaders. The rally was concluded at approximately 13:45, when the Belgrade citizens, directed by the leaders of the coalition, Zoran Djindjic, Vuk Draskovic and Vesna Pesic walked the well-known "media route" through downtown Belgrade. Before more than 60.000 citizens of Belgrade, the heads of the coalition preindicated that they will fight to lift the block from the media and to set fair conditions for the upcoming Republic parliamentary and Presidential elections in Serbia. They appealed to the Serbian authorities to accept their proposition - organizing a round table, where the liberation of the media would be discussed, the alterations in the electoral law, the financing of the parties and other prerequisites for honest elections, as well as the social reforms. A large procession of the citizens passed the Assembly and the Presidency of Serbia a little after 14:00, accompanied with tremendous noise and whistles. No police forces were spotted in the streets of Belgrade.

A few thousand Belgrade students assembled again tonight at the Plato before the School of Philosophy, thus continuing the Student Protest, which began 108 days ago. The students announced that they would walk "the media route", which would include all the most significant locations which marked the demonstrations from March 9th, six years ago. The student procession passed the Srpskih Vladara street a little before 20:00. A group numbering approximately 30 students at the end of the procession was carrying lit up candles. The students announced that they would place flowers at the places where two demonstrators lost their lives, and that they would pay respect to them with a moment of silence. The members of the Main and the Initiative Board of the Student Protest declared that assemblies will be held at most of the schools of the Belgrade University, and that the students will on that occasion decide on the future forms of the protest.

Jovo Todorovic, Minister of Education in the Serbian Government stated today that all the lectures that were lost at the schools of the University will be compensated during the summer, provided the classes commence on March 10th, or a few days afterwards. He said that, if the lectures at the University do not begin tomorrow, the Government will take suitable measures and that all the schools refusing to work will not be financed from the budget.

A group of Belgrade intellectuals, members of the association "Public opinion - an appeal" invited the Belgrade students today to remain "firmly united and harmonious in their struggle for the only possible and democratic mutual future". "Like never before in the last 52 years, the students made an irrepressible entrance on the scene and spoke in the purest language of democracy, resistance against force and hope for the future both theirs and ours", cites the announcement which was given to the Beta news agency by this association. The announcement further states that the present regime is "desperately trying to tear and divide the student movement, to separate the student enthusiasm and the hearty political forces from the public opinion of Belgrade and Serbia, from their educators and professors".

A few thousand students of the Belgrade University started from the plato in front of the School of Philosophy for the 108th protest walk, dedicated to the sixth anniversary of the March 9th demonstrations. The students laid flowers on the places where demonstrator Branivoje Milinovic and policeman Nedeljko Kosovic were killed on March 9, 1991. The student procession then followed the "media route" and returned to the Plato.

The Independent Journalist Association of Serbia (NUNS) expressed its deepest concern regarding the letter of the manager of the Serbian National Radio-Television (RTS) Dragoljub Milanovic in which he announced the breaking of the contract with BK Television. "If the statements that BK Television regularly fulfilled its payments towards RTS are confirmed, it will once again be confirmed that the heads of the state television are ready to use any means necessary against the media which are not under the absolute control of the government" it is stated in the announcement of NUNS. NUNS also condemned the attempt of "Milosevic's authorities to confide the visibility of BK to the territory of Belgrade.

The president of the strike board of the Independent Syndicate of the Journalists of NIN, Dragoslav Rancic said today at that the journalists of this Belgrade weekly "are not afraid of the threats of being fired by the director Tomislav Dzadzic". "We are not afraid because we have had an offer to start a new paper. We have rejected the offer because we wish for there to exist one good NIN in Serbia in stead of two average NINs." Dzadzic announced the inforcing of legal measures against the journalists of this paper who "have caused great damage to NIN and tried to destabilize it".

The entire photo-documentation of the citizens and student protest against the annulment of the results of the local elections has disappeared from the People's Paper. Representatives of the paper accuse Dragan Vujicic the former editor in chief for the theft of 600 photographs taken during the 93 days of the protests. Vujicic is also the former president of the city government and the president of the former Committee for Information and Propaganda of the Socialist Party of Serbia for Nis.

About 1,000 citizens of Nis gathered tonight after a seven-day pause and protested in the streets. According to the report of the OSCE committee the coalition Zajedno won on the local elections held on November 17. This report was not acknowledged by the city electoral committee so the Socialist Party took over the City Parliament.

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