News for January 19th, 1997
Riot police cordons for the fourth time blocked Sunday's student march. Trade Union activisits, including journalists, and prominant actors joined the 59th successive student protest. The students of both Belgrade's universities attempted to make their protest walk some time before 20:00 tonight from the square in front of the School of Philosophy and reached Kolarceva street, where a police cordon stopped them. The students of Belgrade, who have been protesting for 59 days already, against disrespect of the citizens' electoral will, are reorganizing their "penetration of the police cordon" action, so they remained before the cordon that stopped them. They intend to stay there until the police withdraws from the streets. There were approximately 20 elementary and high school teachers in front of the students, who answered the call of the Independent Syndicate of the Teachers of Serbia "Nezavisnost" and a group of approximately 30 members of the Independent Journalist Association of Serbia who joined the students. Students also announced future protest actions, the first of which will be called "blessed soil." The goal of that protest will be to invite students from all over Serbia to bring soil to Belgrade where it will be blessed by priests from the Srbian Orthodox Church. A further action will be called "Bloodshed," where students will donate blood to the Belgrade Blood Transfusion Centre to infect Serbia with a 'freedom virus'.
A few thousand citizens, who started from Bulevar Revolucije street, reached Terazije some time after 20:00, with intent to support the students stopped by the police cordons in Kolarceva street, by the "Albanija" building. The police cordon stopped the citizens near the restaurant "Dusanov grad", and there is empty space between that cordon and the one preventing the students from moving.
The Steering Board of the Student Protest 96/97 has established a Hungry Student Movement branch. The Hungry Student Movement called on all Belgraders Sunday to bring food to help sustain the students participating in the action to break police cordons that night. Under the slogan "I'll Feed You Too," the Hungry Student Movement asked for food to be brought for policemen as well, so they should not 'eat' the demonstrators.
The daily 19.30 noise protest to drown out the 'din' of the main evening news bulletin on state TV, spilled over into local protest walks through various suburbs of Belgrade on Sunday. Many 'noise makers' then joined the Sunday student protest near the Faculty of Philosophy, where the students were blocked by riot police.
More than 5000 inhabitants of Belgrade suburb Banovo Brdo made more noise tonight, by walking Pozeska street during the main informative program of the state controlled Television which starts at 19:30. They were joined by the President of the Serbian Renewal Movement and his wife Danica.
A few thousand citizens of Belgrade passed through the main street Srpskih Vladara at about 21:00 tonight, making noise. They were heading towards the monument of Vuk Karadzic, where they have been assembling nightly during the prime time informative program of the state controlled television in their protest action "The noise at Vuk's".
A police cordon blocked the traffic in Kolarceva street, thus thwarting the citizens of Belgrade in their attempt to head for the Democratic Party headquarters on Terazije. A few thousand citizens of Belgrade and supporters of the "Zajedno" coalition assembled in Kolarceva street, expecting the beginning of the protest gathering of that coalition at approximately 16:00 on Republic Square. The citizens of Belgrade have been protesting the annulment of the local elections' results for 61 days. The demonstrators responded to the invitation of the "Zajedno" coalition to bring dogs, cats and other pets, because "the police can't stop them from walking". Some citizens, who do not own pets, brought dog-, coala- and bear-shaped dolls.
Leaders of the coalition Zajedno commented, at their Sunday protest meeting, that Slobodan Milosevic was ready to start war in Kosovo in order to avoid recognizing local election results from November 17. Thousands of Belgrade citizens attended Sunday's rally.
The Organizing Board of the student protest in Nis stated that the protest action named "Noise against the Serbian Television news" has now begun in this city as well. The students of Nis formed a procession during their last night's 59th walk, lead by 20 professional drummers from the most popular Nis rock groups, who gave the rhythm to the whole procession during the broadcast of the prime-time news program. Students were greeted by a great number of citizens standing on their windows and balconies during the walk, which ended at approximately 21:00. Many joined the procession, so the number of protesters was much greater than in the past few days, it is said in the announcement of the Nis student protest Press Center.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met opposition leader Zoran Djindjic in Bonn Sunday. Mr. Kinkel told press after that meeting that the opposition in Serbia deserved the full support for its peaceful struggle for democratization. Mr. Kinkel also stressed that the Serbian Government should recognize local election results immediately, open dialogue with the opposition and, above all, respect free media. Mr. Kinkel also warned that failure to do this would provoke pressure from the international community, but did not specify what this would involve. But he was reuluctant to consider the option of re-imposing sanctions.
President of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, returned on Sunday from his visit to Germany. In a statement for Radio B92, Mr. Djindjic said that German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, had stated that he would encourage members of the European Union to take a united position on current events in Serbia. "First, the EU will refuse to give Milosevic a single dollar or mark until he implements the demands of the Gonzalez report. Second, the EU will insist on the full recognition of the second round of local elections of November 17," Mr. Djindjic said.
UN Special Envoy for Human Rights for former Yugoslavia, Elizabeth Rhen, met with students from the University of Belgrade, opposition leaders and representatives of the Serbian Government on Saturday. In a later meeting with press, Mrs. Rehn stressed that the conclusions of the Gonzalez report must be implemented, regardless of any legal difficulties that might arise. She said she had made this very clear to Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, who had reassured her that the current dispute would be reolved and the electoral system updated. Mrs. Rhen rejected allegations that Minister Milutionovic had accused the students of the UofB of being funded from abroad. She reiterated her support for the Student Protest, describing it as good work and a beautiful thing.
Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister, Gabor Bodi, stated on Sunday that Hungary once again called on Serbian authorities to recognize in full opposition wins in the second round of local elections last November.
Vojin Dimitrijevic, chairman of the Foreign Policy Board of the Civil Alliance of Serbia (GSS) is currently on a four-day visit to Prague. He is the first representative of coalition Zajedno to visit the Czech Republic. He is to meet with Aleksandar Vondro, First Assistant of the Czech Foreign Minister, Senator Vatzlav Bend, also chair of the Bureau for Investigation of Communist Crimes, Ivan Medek, chair of the Czech President's cabinet, Mihael Chantovsky, chair of the Czech Senate's foreign policy board and representatives of other state and political bodies.
Rajko Vracar, former Chancellor of the UofB, who was demoted for supporting Student Protest 1992 and criticizing the current government, in spite of being a member of the ruling party at the time, said in an interview to the daily 'Dnevni Telegraf' that the University of Belgrade was too important for the Government to let it become independent. He said that it had come of little surprise that the University Council had rejected the request to dismiss the current Chancellor as he had been appointed by the ruling Socialists in the first place. Mr. Vracar criticised the actions and professionalism of the current Chancellor and gave his unconditional support to Student Protest 96/97. He said the only progressive elements in the University were the students.
Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the French National Front (FNF) will arrive on an official visit to the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) on Tuesday, the SRS announced at a press conference Sunday. The schedule of Le Pen's visit includes a meeting with Serbian Patriarch Pavle, a tour of the Federal and Republic Parliament, visit to the Zemun City Assembly [whose Mayor is the leader of the SRS, Vojislav Seselj], and a trip to Pale to meet with Momcilo Krajisnik, representative of the Republic of Srpska on the Bosnian Presidency.
Belgrade correspondent of Russian NTV Television, reported on Sunday that "the carnival of freedom on the streets of the Serbian capital has now lasted for more than two months." State television network "Russia," reported on Zoran Djindjic's official visit to Germany, and commented that the world acknowledged the Serbian opposition as the only democratic alternative to Milosevic. Moscow weekly "Moskovske Novosti," in its latest issue, said: "It seems that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will accept two key conditions for the peaceful solution to the conflict -- he will recognize opposition victories and refrain from the use of force."
The Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic wants a way out of the one way street he has found himself in, "but within the already existing institutional boundaries of Yugoslavia", the Greek weekly "To vima" prints today parts of the report made by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the last week's visit of Teodor Pangalos, Chief of Greek Diplomacy to Belgrade. "To vima" states that the Serbian opposition has agreed that, after the Gonzales' report has been "completely and urgently accepted", it will suspend the demonstrations and commence a dialogue with the government on democratization, the media and the conditions for the upcoming elections.
Radoje Prica, Chief of the Representative Group of the Democratic Party in the former convocation of the City Assembly of Belgrade stated to the Beta news agency that the authorities did have a motive to prevent the opposition from gaining authority in the state capital. According to his words, the reason for putting off the acknowledgement of the opposition's victory is fear of the Socialist Party of Serbia that, by loss of authority in the capital, it will lose impact on the city's and even the state's vital functions as well.
The Alliance of the Liberated Municipalities and Cities of Serbia is preparing the text of the Local Autonomy Law, which will be in accordance with the European Charter on the Local Autonomy, Vesna Rakic-Vodinelic, member of the Legal Board of the "Zajedno" coalition, and professor at the Law School in Belgrade, told the Beta news agency. The Alliance of the Liberated Municipalities of Serbia was founded immediately after the second rounds of the local elections, on November 21st. It consist of all the representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition in the municipalities in which the opposition has the majority in the parliament.
All the local boards of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in Kragujevac are presently holding meetings on which dismissals and inquiries on responsibility of the party's leaders in the city are demanded due to electoral loss, the Beta news agency discovers from the sources close to this party. The convocation of the new electoral conference of the SPS of Kragujevac is also requested, in order to elect a new leadership, one that has not yet been discredited.
The "Zajedno" coalition accused the Socialist Party of Serbia today that it is misusing the accident of Radoje Popovic, the Pristina University Chancellor, in its confrontations with the opposition and the citizens who have been protesting the annulment of the local elections' results for the past two months.
The assault to Radoje Popovic, Chancellor of the Pristina University was performed by "those who are against democratic processes and the roads pursued by the students", Nikola Bozinovic, spokesman for the Student Protest in Nis stated today.
The Democratic Party of Serbia has stated today that that the yesterday's rally in Pristina, as well as the recent counter-rally in Belgrade had the purpose of provoking further divisions and conflicts among the Serbs.
A few distinguished citizens of Koceljevo, mostly intellectuals, got summoned from the magistrate, on the charges of disturbing public peace and order during the Serbian public television news, the "Zajedno" coalition in Koceljevo announced today.
Unlike the American administration, which has been exclusively occupied with the preparations for the tomorrow's inauguration of Bill Clinton this weekend, the media are still continually informing of the postelection crisis in Serbia, Slobodan Pavlovic, the correspondent of "Nasa Borba" reports for FoNet. CNN concluded in one of its today's reports from Belgrade that this crisis is obviously beginning to intensify due to the government's refusal to admit that the "Zajedno" coalition did win on the November 17th elections. At the same time, the powers of the democratic opposition were accused of the recent terrorist attack on the Pristina University Chancellor.
A group of ten former miners of the Aleksinac mines, who were crippled, and for this reason assigned to other jobs, entered the fourth day of their hunger strike barricaded in the administration building of the "Soko-Citluk" mine. They demand the resignation of the mine's General Manager Miodrag Denic, who is the Technical Manager at the same time. The former miners request written notifications about the disappearance of the coal from the mine's depot; the 1993 stimulation fees that were never paid off; "coal sale malversations"; the present sate in the personnel and housing policy. The former miners intend to visit the President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic "if their health allows them".
Approximately 10000 citizens of Nis assembled at Liberation Square, at the 63rd protest rally against the annulment of the local elections' second rounds. Today's protest gathering, like so many times before, ended with a walk through the city streets.
The protest against the annulment of the results of the local elections in Serbia, organized by the oppositional coalition "Zajedno" was continued in Kraljevo tonight. After the protest rally, the citizens of Kraljevo performed their usual walk along the city streets.