News for December 19th, 1996

The group of students from Kragujevac arrived to Belgrade around 12:00 today after the 125 kilometers long "March of Truth", which was organized in support of their colleagues' protest.

Today, MTV held a video shoot of students of Belgrade University during the 26th consecutive protest march. Protests in the streets of Belgrade will continue tomorrow. Spokesman of the Steering Board of the Student Protest '96, Dusan Vasiljevic announced that tomorrow the students will block the traffic on all three bridges leading to New Belgrade from 14:00 to 14:30. He also called on the citizens of Belgrade to follow their suit and block the streets they live on during the same half hour period.

A few thousands of students from Novi Sad University gathered this evening at the protest rally on Liberty square. Under the motto "We Are Looking for Man", the students went through the streets of Novi Sad carry lanterns, oil lamps and candles - trying to prick the conscience of their fellow-citizens. Today's student demonstrations were ended without any unwelcome incidents.

Around 250,000 citizens of Belgrade started their protest walk against the annulment of the results of the second round of local elections from Republic Square at 16:00. The 30th consecutive day of protests against the annulment of electoral results in Belgrade was at once the most massive and most festive so far. It was dedicated to St. Nikola, whose feast day, one of the most important religious holidays in the country, is being celebrated all across Serbia today. The "Zajedno" coalition called upon the citizens of Belgrade to continue their protest against the annulment of the local electoral results tomorrow at 15:00.

The American intermediate John Cornblum supported the "Zajedno" coalition and the democratic opposition in Serbia, said one of the leaders of the Civil Alliance of Serbia Vojin Dimitrijevic, a member of the delegation, of the "Zajedno" coalition, that spoke to Mr. Cornblum on 15. December in Geneva.

The American Vice-President Al Gore received today the Director-General of Radio B-92 Veran Matic at the end of his ten-day visit to the USA. Gore congratulated Matic on the restoration of the B-92 program and stressed the support of american administration to the democratic process in Serbia and the role that public media have in this process.

The info-center of the nongovernmental organizations reported today that the director of the Fund for Human Rights, Natasa Kandic, spoke to the heavily beaten and arrested participant of the demonstrations Dejan Bulatovic. He also talked to his solicitors in a separate visit. The marks of the injuries inflicted on his body are still visible.The Information Center of the nongovernmental organizations also reported that they have records, confirmed by various independent sources, of 23 demonstration participants who were arrested for upsetting law and order.

Karl Wilkens, a member of the Student Government of Frankfurt University, stated this evening that a group of students from Germany came to Belgrade in order to propose a long-term cooperation with European students' organizations to them. The representatives of German students announced that they will address Belgrade students in front of the School of Philosophy tomorrow.

The authorities in Serbia do not exclude the possibility of new local elections if the Organization for Security and Communication in Europe (OSCE) recommends it and if the institutions of the system accept the recommendation, said Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The leader of the Democratic Party (DS) Zoran Djindjic emphasized: "We are thankful to the regime for enabling us to carry out this referendum of the people-for letting us see how many of us are like-minded".

The statement of Yevgeni Primakov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, concerning the confrontation between the opposition and the government in Serbia, regarding the differences in the interpretation of the electoral results, which is an internal affair of Yugoslavia, is not his personal opinion but the official attitude of Russia, said the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tomorrow the citizens of Timisoara (a city in Romania) will organize a rally of solidarity with the citizens of Belgrade who are struggling for democracy in Serbia, report the Romanian media today.

The situation in Serbia has become the subject of international interest owing to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and not to the "Zajedno" coalition, said today Ilija Djukic, the president of the foreign affairs board of the Democratic Party (DS). The invitation sent by Milosevic to the Organization for Security and Communication in Europe (OSCE) is legal, but it is not legitimate, because Serbian President has neither used all the means within the country to end the crisis, nor accepted the proposed dialogue with the opposition, said Djukic at the joint press conference in the office of the Serbian Civil Alliance.

Melissa Flemming, spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), officially confirmed today that Felipe Gonzalez will act as the special OSCE representative to Belgrade. He will be accompanied by a delegation made up of representatives of several countries including Russia, the US, and EU member states as well. Constitutional law experts will also join the international team. Flemming announced that if everything goes according to schedule, the OSCE delegation should arrive in Belgrade tomorrow night and stay until Sunday. "I think our team will not need much time to reach its conclusions," said Flemming. Since the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's membership in the OSCE was suspended in 1992, all the OSCE delegation can do is propose solutions. If the Serbian authorities decide to call for new elections, the OSCE will offer help in monitoring the voting, Flemming said the OSCE will back any decisions by the authorities as long as it is based on its recommendations.

Felipe Gonzalez, former Prime Minister of Spain, should arrive to Belgrade tomorrow afternoon, after the meeting with the members of the OSCE delegation which should enquire into the regularity of the local elections in Serbia of 17th November, and of which he is the president. The Spanish Embassy in Belgrade announced that Gonzalez should remain in Belgrade for 24 hours, although certain changes are possible because of the circumstances. Gonzalez will meet the representatives of the authorities and the opposition, but the exact schedule of his stay in Belgrade is not known at the moment.

The authorities in Serbia are obliged to enable the delegation of the Organization for Security and Communication in Europe (OSCE) to examine all the relevant documents concerning the local elections, said today Vojin Dimitrijevic, the president of the Foreign Affairs Board of the Civil Alliance, at the press conference.

Representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition in Nis stated today at the protest rally that they will attend the session of the City Electoral Committee (CEC) tomorrow and that they will not leave the session even if the members of CEC start falsifying the results again. More than 10,000 citizens of Nis gathered today at the 32nd protest rally against the annulment of the second round of local elections.

The protest gathering of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition against the annulment of the electoral results in Serbia was held in Kragujevac today. The participants of the gathering expressed their readiness to persist in their protest until the victory of the oppositional parties in Serbian cities has been admitted. The protest walk preceded the gathering. The continuation of the protest is scheduled for tomorrow.

Around 50 citizens of Lazarevac, supporters of the "Zajedno" coalition, will start for Belgrade on foot tomorrow, which is a gesture of protest against the annulment of the second round of local elections.

A delegation of students from Subotica will start for Belgrade on bicycles at 13:00 tomorrow. The students from Subotica will stop in Novi Sad, where they will spend the night at their friends'. They will continue their trip to Belgrade on Saturday morning.

The United Branch Syndicates "Nezavisnost" announced today that a group of their members will start for Belgrade from Pancevo on foot on saturday, 21st December, at 12:00.

Around 1,000 citizens of Pirot gathered this evening at the protest rally of the "Zajedno" coalition against the annulment of the second round of local elections. Another protest gathering is scheduled for 19:00 tomorrow.

The 19th protest gathering of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition was held in Sabac today. The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) attempted to organize a meeting in support of President Milosevic in Sabac today, as they did in Gornji Milanovac and Krusevac. The ruling party had buses lined up to bring in its sympathizers from other cities. Citizens of Sabac, who noticed the arrival of buses bearing registration plates of other cities, spontaneously gathered at the place designated for the SPS meeting. They demanded to know what what this meeting was about, for they had been informed of "some visitors" arriving from other cities. The organizers, dumbfounded by the response of the Sabac people and the numbers in which they came out, gave up their meeting after 15 minutes and withdrew to their places of residence, reports "Zajedno" Electoral Headquarters.

A few hundreds of the citizens of Backa Palanka expressed today their support to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in connection with the mass protests of the opposition in Belgrade and other cities of Serbia.

The state-owned RTS television reported tonight that meetings in support of President Slobodan Milosevic were held today on what were described as the crowded squares of Backa Palanka, Sabac, Pec and Krusevac. The state television showed banners saying "Down With the Traitors", "Serbia Decides for Itself", "Stop the Misuse of Children", "We Won't Sell Out on Serbia". The harshest message was sent out by Mihalj Kertes, one of Milosevic's closest associates, and organizer of the so-called "people's awakening" in the late 1980's and Milosevic's famous "yogurt revolution". He called the leaders of Zajedno traitors and said that Milosevic's supporters knew how to marathon-walk as well, promising to organize their arrival in Belgrade if the leaders and supporters of Zajedno do not stop their street demonstrations and return to their "proper place".

In light of the counter-meetings, initiated today in support of President of Serbia, Draskovic said: "I'm glad about the counter-meetings. Ceaucescu, too, initiated counter-meetings nine days before his end".

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