News for December 12th, 1996

Press observers in Washington, have noted an unusual degree of consensus among the Congress democrats and republicans on the question on the question of the US response to the current situation in Serbia. Today, the Congressional Human Rights Watch Committee held a meeting in Washington with some opposition representatives from Belgrade. The guests from Belgrade, received the committee's full support for the calls by the opposition in Belgrade that the US drop its initiative for a reimposing of economic sanctions on Yugoslavia. The congressional committee promised instead to apply, in so-operation with their European partners, "targeted sanctions" towards Milosevic, his family and a group of his closest aides. These selective sanctions would freeze all their property abroad and deny them entry to other countries until a full investigation of their personal business dealings abroad is carried out and until Milosevic and his political partners fulfill the demands of the demonstrators throughout Serbia.

Some 100,000 demonstrators tusned out today to protest the annulment of the electoral results. Today's rally was marked by renewed, non-violent defiance of the regime: its symbol of protest was, once again, a life-size effigy of Slobodan Milosevic dressed in prison garb, the effigy for which one of the demonstrators was severely beaten by the police several days ago and is now serving a prison sentence in exceptionally harsh conditions.

Yugoslav authorities have not granted a visa to Daniel Con-Benedict, member of the EU parliament, who was supposed to visit Belgrade as part of his work on a report about cooperation in the region, said a statement by the EU parliament today. "Denial of entry to an MP of the European Union is a blatant insult to our institution," commented Con-Benedict, who is also the leader of Germany's Green Party and former leader of the 1968 student demonstrations in France. He pointed out that he is not the only prominent European who has been turned away by Yugoslav authorities. Con-Benedict named a number of French intellectuals, including two former ministers of state, who have also had their visa requests turned down by Belgrade.

Montenegrin authorities urged Serbian President Milosevic to take immediate steps to solve the political crisis which has arisen from the annulment of electoral results, reported AFP. An unnamed spokesman of the Montenegrin President said Montenegro was gravely concerned about the fact that Serbia is risking "unpredictable consequences" on its territory.

Some 15,000 protesters gathered both in Nis and in Valjevo today demanding acknowledgement of the electoral results and freedom of the press. In Kragujevac, union members joined the protest in support of the Belgrade demonstrations. Protests were also staged in Kraljevo, Pancevo, Lazarevac and Smederevska Palanka, where the two thousand assembled celebrated the Supreme Court ruling which overturned a decision by the municipal court and thus returned the electoral victory in this town to coalition Zajedno.

Russian media estimated today that Serbia is facing even greater isolation than that of the economic sanctions brought against it for its participations in the recent conflicts in the Balkans. If its president disregarded the warnings and the pressure by the international community Serbia could be worse off than in his last five years.

In the past week, several major European and American cities have been hosts to solidarity rallies organized in support of the democratization demands made by the protesters and coalition Zajedno in Serbia. The non-government organization HOST (Movement for Civil Solidarity and Tolerance) help a protest meeting in Prague at which a public petition demanding that the authorities in FR Yugoslavia "practice restraint and forebear from any use of force in their search for the solution to the present situation in Serbia." Similar protests were held earlier this week in London, New York and other cities around the world.

Lamberto Dini, Head of Italian diplomacy, met today Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia, and, after that, the leaders of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition. At the press conference held after those meetings, Dini stated that the recognition of the original results of the municipal elections in Serbia can hardly be expected.

Around 40,000 Belgrade students, who have been protesting for 19 days against the nonrecognition of the electoral will of the citizens, did not carry out the planned action for the first time today, because the police prevented them from going to Dedinje (the part of the city in which the residence of President Slobodan Milosevic is). In order to avoid any ugly incidents, the students returned to the plateau in front of the School of Philosophy.

The 25th protest gathering of the citizens of Nis, who protest against the annulment of the results of the municipal elections in serbia, ended with the walk of more than 15,000 people through the center of the town. Dusan Ciric, professor at the School of Philosophy in Nis, said at he protest rally that this School supports the protest of students and citizens provoked by "trampling upon the basic human right - the right to vote".

The 23rd protest gathering of the citizens of Kraljevo, who demonstrate against the annulment of the second round of the municipal elections, was held today at the central town square.

Around 15,000 citizens protested in Valjevo today against the annulment of the second round of the municipal elections.

A few thousand students protested today in the streets of novi Sad and ended their protest walk in front of the building of "Dnevnik" (a daily newspaper), demanding of the reporters to write truthfully. A protest "march towards Belgrade" has been announced for tomorrow; more than 200 students from Novi Sad will participate in the march.

The members of the independent syndicate of "Zastava-transport" i "Zastava-automobiles" participated in the rally of coalition Zajedno.

"Nova Demokratja" (the third party in the leftist coalition with SPS and JUL) supported the students protest and the demonstrations of the citizens of Serbia "until violence is used or revolutionary change of the government is attempted" stated Rebeka Srbinovic, spokesman for this party at a press conference.

Dobrica Cosic, writer, academician and formal President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, stated that President Slobodan Milosevic "is making more and more serious mistakes" and that it is beginning of his "moral and political end". "His fate is sealed", stated Dobrica Cosic for "Lee Figaro".

RTS (Serbian National Radio-Television Network) and Radio B-92 concluded a new contract of business cooperation, which regulates the broadcasting of the program of Radio B-92 through the Zvezdara transmitter, which belongs to the RTS. The contract is valid for 10 years.

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