News for December 14th, 1996

Tens of thousands of students protested to day for the 21st time on the streets of Belgrade. In the course of their traditional walk, they passed by the City Hospital, where the thousands of students were absolutely silent in order not to disturb the patience inside. The Initiative Committee of the student Protest announced today that tomorrow the student gathering will be at 6 pm and the daily itinerary will include passing by the building of the state run RTS television (scheduled for 7.30 pm to coincide with the RTS' prime time news).

At today's press conference in Belgrade, Deputy High Commissioner for Bosnia, Michael Stainer said that the demands of the Serbian opposition and the students are clear and legitimate and that they need help from the international community. He also mentioned that Radio Boom 93 (in Pozarevac) is still of the air, and that the freedom of the media is not negotiable. The authorities simply must allow a free press. Nevertheless, Steiner concluded, Serbia's reputation and its international image have improved considerably due to these non-violent, pro-democracy demonstrations.

Supporters of the coalition Zajedno protested today for the 25th day in a row in the streets of Belgrade. Leaders of the coalition sent a message to the demonstrators: "We are more numerous than ever, we are more cheerful than ever, we have, we have returned hope to each other." Over 200,000 people came out for today's protest walk.

Washington announced today that a delegation of the OSCE will come to Belgrade in week. The delegation will be headed by a still unnamed prominent international diplomat. the statement stressed that the delegation will attempt to find out the truth about the election results, and will also investigate the position of the media. The international community believes that the freedom of the media in Serbia is still severely compromised.

"A panel discussion is one thing, round table talks is another," said Milan Bozic, advisor to Vuk Draskovic, Head of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). Bozic rejected the proposal of the ruling Socialists to set up a panel on the current situation in Serbia. Instead, he proposed round table talks, where political parties would discuss the situation and be in the position to have their conclusion actually implemented.

Leaders of the European Union condemned the annulling of "certain results" of the local elections in Serbia and called upon all sides to sustain from the use of force and the improvement of the dialogue. In part of the Declaration of the EU summit in Dublin, concerning the situation in FRY and Croatia reminds of the conclusion of the European Council of December 6 in which Belgrade is appealed to fully respect human rights, the rights of minorities, and democratic principles, especially those concerning the election process.

The peace mediator from the international community, Carl Bilt stated on Saturday that the European Union was considering the conditions for sending an international observers to examine the irregularities of the recently held local elections in Serbia, and the possibilities for the elections to be repeated under international control. He said that the heads of diplomacy of the EU on the summit in Dublin last night, decided that OSCE should accept the invitation of the president of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic to come and inspect the regularity of the local elections, but under the strict condition that Milosevic fulfills the conditions for the mission.

A group of around 200 students from Novi Sad arrived in Belgrade, in sign of support of their Belgrade colleagues, on Saturday at 11 pm. It took them less than 24 hours to walk the 80 kilometers from Novi Sad. The citizens of Belgrade greeted the students from Novi Sad with ovations, which were followed by the traditional walk, in which 20,000 students participated.

More than 20,000 citizens of Nis protested today, for the 27th time on the central city square for of the annulling of the local elections.

The first municipal court in Belgrade brought criminal charges against the president of the city electoral committee, Radomir Lazarevic for fraud and forgery, stated an anonymous judge from this court. Lazarevic is suspected of forgery when it was determined that two records existed with different signatures.

The Council for Human Rights of the Center for Antiwar Action appealed for the third time on Saturday to the ministers of justice and internal affairs to stop their "practise of beating up their political opponents". The Council requested "an investigation of the cases against Feriz Blakcortija and Dejan Bulatovic and that the public be promptly informed about measures taken against the policemen- killers whose names we impatiently await."

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