News for December 10th, 1996

Foreign Ministers of the member countries of NATO today severely criticized the non-democratic behavior of the authorities in Serbia and their resolve to ignore municipal elections results, reports news agency FoNet. US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher called on Serbian authorities to overturn the decision by which the electoral victory was taken away from the opposition and said that if President Milosevic respects the will of the people, he will gain the recognition and support from the international community and add to the suffering of its people. Similar kind of criticism was also made by the French Foreign Minister, reports FoNet.

Yesterday, about 30.000 student protesters gathered in front of School of Philosophy, in downtown Belgrade.

In their protest today, the students of Novi Sad called on the police forces not to be just a stick in Milosevic's hand and not to behave like their colleagues in Belgrade, who recently beat and tortured the student Dejan Bulatovic.

3.000 students protested in Nis. They plastered the outer walls of the City Hall with hundreds of copies of the electoral document which shows the real results of the elections.

Lawyers of the arrested student Dejan Bulatovic visited their client in prison today. Although a demand had been made for Bulatovic's transfer to hospital, it was not accepted, said the spokesman of the Student Protest '96, Aleksandar Vasiljevic. According to Vasiljevic, the arrested student was only examined by a doctor and then returned to his prison cell.

The Managing Board of the Belgrade Chamber of Lawyers released an official statement yesterday in which they indicated that the Yugoslav legal system is in a deep crisis, especially exacerbated by the recent rulings handed down by a hundred of courts about the results of the municipal elections. The Chamber appealed to judges to stick to the law.

French officials today asked Serbian authorities to start a dialogue with the opposition because "the present stalemate is dangerous." Official France also warns that the high likelihood of "strikes in the Serbian industrial sector" would broaden the protests. The statement concluded that it would be much better if Serbian authorities initiate the dialogue with coalition Zajedno as soon as possible.

More than 80.000 citizens protested today at a rally called the coalition Zajedno. Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, thanked the West for their support but also that he is "fed up with those hypocritical hopes that this regime will not use the force."

Official spokesman of the Russian ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Demurin held a press conference today at which he refused to make any comments of the current situation in Serbia. Russian Foreign Minister, Evgeny Primakov, is already on record with the statement that the conflict in Serbia is a matter for Yugoslavs themselves to deal with. Meanwhile, the West is trying to persuade Russia to come on board and openly declare that Russia, too, wants a dialogue between Serbian authorities and the opposition.

The City Electorial Committee verified today 100 out 110 representatives' mandates in Belgrade assembly. The federal Court denied the request of the City Electorial Committee to reexamine the decisions of the Supreme Court of Serbia, and the Federal State Attorney concluded that there are no legal possibilities for submitting the request for protection of legality against the decisions of the Supreme Court.

Around 100,000 citizens of Belgrade gathered at Terazije today. From that spot, they started the walk of protest against the annulment of the results of the second round of the municipal elections. The leaders of the " Zajedno " coalition appealed to the citizens of Belgrade and other Serbian cities to persist in their protest until the full democratization of the society is effected.

Milomir Minic, a representative for the Serbian Socialist Party and former general secretary of that party, was elected today the president of the Citizen Council of the Yugoslav Parliament in the new constitution. At the new constitution session of the Citizen Council 116 were verified, out of the whole of 138 mandates in the Lower House of Yugoslav Parliament. The mandates of the oppositional " Zajedno " coalition which had not sent the list of its 20 representatives, were not verified.

The "Zajedno" coalition and "Narodna sloga" coalition parliamentary delegates did not participate in the work of the constitutive session of Yugoslav Parliament. The session started with violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, since even the mandates of the delegates who already hold public offices (like Milos Milutinovic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs) were verified, although the Constitution forbids such procedure explicitly.

Around 30,000 Belgrade students left today a few books of the Constitutional Law in front of the building of the Supreme Court, since the judges in that Court, according to the students' judgment, "have not even seen, let alone read, that book".

Dusan Vasiljevic, the spokesman of the Student Protest '96, said today that students are in favor of the dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, since it is the only solution to this situation. "Every dialogue between the authorities and the opposition is a step forward in the process of democratization," said Vasiljevic at the press conference.

Twelve journalists more of "Politika" (a daily Belgrade newspaper) dissociated themselves today from the manner in which this paper informs the public about the protests in Belgrade and Serbia, and accused the director Hadzi-Dragan Antic of "bringing about this shameful episode in the history of 'Politika'".

Around 5,000 citizens protested today in Valjevo against the annulment of the results of the municipal elections.

A few thousand citizens of Nis and students of Nis University demonstrated today in the streets of that town against the annulment of the second round of the municipal elections.

The letter from Warren Christopher, in which it is demanded that no violent measures be used, that the results of the municipal elections be recognized and that the dialogue between the authorities and the opposition be started, was delivered to Slobodan Milosevic today.

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