News for February 16th, 1997

By gathering in the square in front of the School of Philosophy this evening, Belgrade students continued their protest, which has been lasting for 87 days now. The students demand the full respect of the citizens' will, i.e. the recognition of every delegate mandate in municipality assemblies, including Novi Beograd and Mladenovac, as well as the bringing of criminal charges against those who committed the electoral theft and conducted the police repression against citizens. They also demand the dismissals of Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic and Student Vice-Dean Vojin Djurdjevic. The representatives of the Student Protest 96/97 announced that the protest would not end until all their demands have been fulfilled.

The students of the University in Kragujevac continued their protest last night in the city center at the Square by the cross, demanding the acknowledgement of the second ballot rounds of the November 17th local elections.

Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic, two of the leaders of coalition Zajedno, stated for Radio B92 that the last evening's rally closed the protest activities of citizens which concerned the acknowledgement of the election results, but that the protest rallies would be resumed after March 9 unless the authorities agree to enter a dialogue about the freedom of media. Vuk Draskovic pointed out it had been decided that in case the election results were recognized according to the report of the OSCE delegation, the protests should be terminated and added that coalition Zajedno kept to that decision.

Many citizens of Belgrade continued their gatherings in different parts of the city tonight, expressing their discontent with the way the Radio-television of Serbia has been informing the public, by making noise and taking their protest walks. The "Zajedno" coalition decided last night to, after 88 consecutive days, to cease their protest against the annulment of the results of the November 17th local elections, but the leaders of this coalition summoned the citizens to continue their protest against the state controlled television.

Zoran Djindjic, the president of the Democratic Party (DS), has stated that he is prepared for a difficult year, since the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) shows a tendency of making the political situation strained. He added that after the election results have been recognized, only the first phase of the coalition Zajedno struggle for the fulfillment of their demands has been completed. Djindjic has announced that the leaders of coalition Zajedno will have a meeting tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, in which they should agree about the candidates for the chief positions in the City Assembly, i.e. in the Executive board and the departments, and then in time in the special services as well.

A group of doctors from the Democratic Party (DS) visited Ljiljana Djukic at the Orthopedic Clinic in Belgrade, who has been in an intensive-care unit after the operation on her arm which has been broken by the policemen in the night between February 2nd and 3rd near the Branko's bridge. "Mrs. Djukic (63) received serious bodily injuries when the police, by beating and with the aid of water cannons by the Branko's bridge attempted to prevent the citizens of Belgrade from pursuing their peaceful protests until the regime acknowledges the victory of the opposition at the local elections", the announcement of the DS cites.

Vesna Pesic, the president of the Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS), talked in Belgrade today with Elizabeth Rehn, the special UN envoy for human rights, who came to Belgrade for a short unofficial visit, about the current events in Serbia, announces the GSS. Elizabeth Rehn was especially interested in the facts about the police bashing of Belgrade citizens in the night between 2nd and 3rd February, when Vesna Pesic herself was one of the victims of the police brutality, reads the announcement of the GSS.

Freelance correspondents of RTV Politika continued today the strike they entered because of unpaid wages and their undetermined status. They demanded of Ljubomir Mihajlovic, the president of the Managing board of RTV Politika, to receive their negotiating team at 12:00 tomorrow. If they do not get an answer from Mihajlovic, they will demand that their delegation should attend the meeting of the Managing board which is supposed to be held at 18:00 tomorrow. BK Television reports today that Hadzi Dragan Antic, the general manager of Politika company, has informed the freelancers that he does not want to talk to them and that he has already made a new program scheme without their help.

The Drivers' Syndicate of the City Transportation Organization has announced that, due to the delay in the payment of the salaries, the drivers will go on a forewarning strike on Monday, February 17th, and that they will, if still not paid, cease operation completely.

The session of the Republic board of the Syndical Union for Education was held in Belgrade today. The participants discussed the results of the negotiations with the Serbian Government. Jagos Bulatovic, the president of the Republic board, stated for the BK Television that the strike in schools would be continued until the agreement between the syndical negotiating team and the Serbian Government has been finally signed.

The Serbian Government announced this evening that it had reached an agreement with the Republic board of the Syndical Union for Education, according to which the attitude of the Syndicate in determining the price of work would be decisive, and that the problems connected with the strike would be solved in the way and according to the procedure demanded by the Syndicate. Although the Government announced that it had reached the agreement with the Republic board of the Education Syndicate, the document was not signed by anyone from the negotiating team of educators, but by Tomislav Banovic and Dobrica Savic, presidents of the councils of independent syndicates for Serbia and Belgrade.

Mirko Marjanovic, President of the Serbian Government, greeted the agreement between the Government and the Independent Syndicates of Serbia and Belgrade on the demands of the teachers, which should enable the elementary and high schools to start working tomorrow. "The agreement is righteous, because the position of education has thus been equalized with that of the other activities", Marjanovic said, and added that the most important thing is that a way of increasing the coefficient of the salary payments from the existing sources has been found, the Radio-television of Serbia reports.

Jagos Bulatovic, President of the Alliance of the Education Syndicates of Serbia stated tonight that he is "shocked" with the agreement signed by the representatives of the Republic Government and the Council of the Independent Syndicates of Serbia and Belgrade on the demands of the teachers, who have been on strike for over three weeks. Bulatovic confirmed that the protest of the employees in the field of education will be continued.

Jelena Hristodulo, President of the Teachers' Syndicate "Nezavisnost" stated to the Beta news agency today that this Syndicate remains on strike, despite the agreement between the Serbian Government, Tomislav Banovic, President of the Council of Independent Syndicates of Serbia and Dobrica Savic, President of the Council of Independent Syndicates of Belgrade. She announced the protest of the teachers in front of the Serbian Government building tomorrow from 10:00 to 12:00.

Milan Komnenic, the vice-president of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), stated this evening, in front of several hundred citizens of Nis, that coalition Zajedno had temporarily ended the protests in order to make space for the dialogue with the authorities, concerning the unresolved problems. Komnenic said that, till March 9, the authorities should decide whether they were ready to enter a dialogue concerning the ways to free the state media, financing political parties, election conditions and international observers for the forthcoming republic elections.

The Municipal Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) of Smederevo replaced its President Dragan Glisic, according to the writing of the today's "Vecernje Novosti". As the newspaper unofficially discovers, this function was temporarily entrusted to the graduated attorney Mile Simic. "Vecernje Novosti" also learn that all the members of the Executive Board of the SPS in Smederevo have resigned from their functions.

The Democratic Party of Serbia made an announcement today concerning the expelling of some of its officials that these measures were necessary in order for the party to remain "on the chosen road" and that those expelled "manifested their discontent through disloyal and demolishing actions".

Vladan Batic, Vice-president of the Democratic Party of Serbia, who was denied party membership by the Executive Board in the extended makeup, rejected the estimates that he was inactive, thus breaking the regulations of its bylaws. In his public statement, Batic stressed that he found out about the decision on his exclusion from the party through the means of information, and that he wasn't previously notified about who and why "accused" him, nor did he know that he was "on trial", and that, because of this, he was refused the opportunity to defend himself.

Vojislav Kostunica, President of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) stated today that the latest assaults on the DSS, both from the inside and the outside, have been coming at a time when "the panserbian orientation of this party has been gaining wider support from the citizens and the public". He pointed out that "all such pressures on the DSS will not, however, influence the party to alter its program, which is not aimed at the interest of the party itself, but rather expresses the interest of the whole nation".

The representatives of approximately fifty Municipal Boards of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) from the whole Republic decided in Belgrade tonight to dispute the resolutions of the party organs which were brought in the last 40 days, and to hold an extraordinary assembly of the DSS on March 15th. At the meeting, which was attended by "part of the leadership of the DSS" also, it was estimated that "the Executive Board has harshly violated the statute by making decisions on excluding certain distinguished members and officials of the party".

The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) will still be behaving as an oppositional party, and pointing out to all the mistakes, manipulations, machinations and criminal affairs of the ruling oligarchies at all levels, Vojislav Seselj, leader of the SRS stated today, while speaking about the relations of the Serbian Radicals with the new authorities in Belgrade and Belgrade municipalities governed by the "Zajedno" coalition.

The Information service of the Democratic Party (DS) announces today that Aleksandra Joksimovic, who, as a candidate of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), had been elected a delegate in the Assembly of Stari Grad municipality in Belgrade on November 17, joined the Democratic Party on February 14. According to the DS report, the delegate team of that party in the Belgrade Assembly now has 69 members.

The last, 80th protest gathering of the citizens, organized by the "Zajedno" coalition against the disrespect of the citizens' electoral will, was held in Pirot tonight. Less than a thousand citizens were present at the tonight's rally and their protest walk wasn't hindered in any way. The citizens were invited to assemble on Thursday, February 20th, after the session of the City Assembly, when the new local government organs are to be constituted.

The final, 90th protest gathering of the "Zajedno" coalition in Jagodina was held tonight. It was announced that a festive walk through the town will be performed on the day of the constitution of the government in this municipality where the "Zajedno" coalition has acquired the majority in the parliament. The protests in Jagodina will be pursued if the authorities attempt to usurp the local media, the officials of the local "Zajedno" coalition maintain.

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