News for January 24th, 1997

Students from Belgrade University are still facing a cordon of riot police in an attempt to outlast them. Many prominent Serbian artists and TV personalities addressed the crowd. Several employees of the state-owned Third Channel announced their resignations. A letter of support from Savo Milosevic, the Serbian football star currently playing in England, was read aloud. Radio B92 reports that one of the police officers asked students if they could play him the rock-song "Mentally Retarded" because he wants to dedicate it to his commanders. "I don't know why they keep us here," he said.

Belgrade musicians today mounted their own "jazz protest" -- playing jazz favourites in front of the police cordon in central Belgrade. Brass and woodwind musicians joined the event, calling it "Jazzers Will Blow Away The Cordon." One of the musicians told Radio B92: "After a sound like this, any normal person would run away, but these policemen are still standing here, which means we must repeat the process." Some journalists from the state controlled media chain Politika, and theatre and TV artists will join students protesting in front of the police cordon on Saturday.

Twenty employees of the Council of the Syndicate Union of Serbia joined the Belgrade students who have been standing in front of the police cordon in Kolarceva street for five days incessantly. "We are standing before the cordon because we completely support all the requests of the students of the Belgrade University, and we especially demand the absolute and urgent accknowledgement of the undisputable citizens' will, expressed at the November 17th elections", the employees of this syndicate said.

The Lawyers Chamber of Belgrade (AKB) announced that it will be organizing daily visits of its members to Kolarceva street, starting tonight, as a symbol of its support to the demands of the Student Protest 96/97. AKB reported its evening gatherings to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the foundation of the paragraph 20 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and paragraph 40 of the Constitution of FR Yugoslavia.

The Coordinate Board of the Private Owners of Serbia supported the demands of the students today, and especially the recognition of the local elections'results. The Coordinate Board consists of the Lawyers' Chamber of Serbia and the Chambers of dentists, doctors, veterinarians, dental technicians who have private practice, the Taxi-drivers Association and the General Association of the Private Contractors of Belgrade.

The Association of the Film and Television Art Associates of Serbia supported the Student Protest and announced their participation in the action "Cordon against cordon" tonight at to 23:30. The Film and Television Art Associates will assemble tonight at 22:30 before their Association's headquarters at 26 Terazije street, and will afterwards join the students in Kolarceva street.

Just as every evening since January 2nd, the Belgrade residents have again been making noise and walking during the time the main information program of the state-controlled television is being broadcast, 19:30 to 20:00, thus protesting the edeitorial policy of the strongest medium in Serbia.

In more than a few parts of Belgrade, numerous citizens walked the city streets protesting the annulment of the results of the second electoral rounds and the way the Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS) has been transmitting information to the viewers. During the walk the citizens made continuous, loud noise, protesting the RTS information policy.

Spokesman of the Democratic Party Slobodan Vuksanovic announced today that the opposition coalition Zajedno is working on the creation of a shadow government made up of the most prominent experts in the country. At the press conference, Vuksanovic said that one of the items on the agenda of this government would be the programme for economic recovery created by an expert team of the most important economists.

On Friday, about 1 PM, police left the local media building in the city of Kragujevac. This was the outcome of an agreement reached by the General Manager of the state-owned RTS network, Dragoljub Milanovic and the newly elected manager of the local TV Kragujevac, Vidosav Stefanovic. The agreement that TV Kragujevac must stop its broadcasts until the court reaches a final decision about who controls it. The local weekly paper Svetlost will also not be published. Radio will continue its broadcasts, but without any news service.

Zoran Djindjic, Head of the Democratic Party, talking to Radio B92 said that negotiations imply the possibility of a deal. "I do not see any room for negotiation. The basic elements of the problem are the results from November 17 elections, which were inspected by the OSCE commission, and the authorities who do not want to recognize those elections. We do not have room for manoeuvering."

Head of the Law Team of the coalition Zajedno, Dragor Hiber, joked that "judicial ping-pong goes on." According to his analysis, the Municipal Court cannot reach any decision on the election results because the City's Electoral Commission demand that all judges are excluded. The same applies to the Supreme Court. "Law is wrapped in fog, in order for the decision be postponed and denied somewhere else," said Hiber.

The School Council of the School of Dental Medicine decided today that the lectures in the next semester will not commence until all the students' demands are met and until the conditions at the University and in the society are normalized, it is stated in the announcement of the School of Dental Medicine. The announcement from the today's meeting of the School Council was signed by Vlastimir Petrovic, the dean of the School of Dental Medicine.

Students in the town of Kragujevac have condemned police action in which eyewitnesses say several people were beaten. The steering Board of the Student Protest called the police behaviour "primitive." "The police once again proved their one-party allegiance. They are not a national institution, but are loyal to a dictator [President Milosevic]," a statement said.

Employees at Belgrade's National Museum have sent a message of support to the student protest. The employees are to stand in front of the police cordon with a question: "We guard the spiritual treasure of this country, what do You do?"

The leader of the French far-right National Front party, Jean Marie Le Penn, says he is "completely against the fixing of election results" in Serbia. "The mask of apparently democratic regime of Mr Milosevic has cracked," he told a news conference in Belgrade on Friday. Mr Le Penn said he had a "deep understanding" both for the tactics of Mr Seselj and of the demonstrators. However he declined to visit the student protest.

The International Press Institute (IPI) has condemned the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia for its directive that the police takes over the radio and television in Kragujevac and has expressed concern for the arrest of the two cameramen, Reuters reports.

The Czech journal "Pravo" writes today that "the words of Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of the 'Zajedno' coalition, that the behavior of the western powers, lead by the USA only spurs the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic not to fulfill any of his promises". "Milosevic obviously doesn't care one bit about the threats of Klaus Kinkel, German Minister for Foreign Affairs that the international pressure (on him) will be increased, or about other appeals for the isolation of the Serbian regime", states the Czech journal.

The French media have been giving information last night and this morning, treating it as main news on the events in Serbia, that the police were beating the protesting citizens, thus thwarting the transfer of the Radio and Television of Kragujevac into the hands of the new municipal authorities, despite the previous decision of the court that it must be done. The journal "Le Figaro" writes in its report named "Serbia, the crossing of swords in Kragujevac" that "great tension, concerning the radio and television, is present in the city, which is a former communist bastion now governed by the opposition". "Le Figaro" warns that "possibly in this old historical capital of Serbia a new, and dramatical at that, act of the crisis which has been shaking the country for three months already, could take place".

The Belgian journal "Libre Belgique" demanded today "that the international community, if there is still time, take measures against Slobodan Milosevic and those in collusion with him who are exposing the country to a civil war plague". The Brussels journal points to the fact that the police has been beating the citizens in Kragujevac abd warns that the Serbian regime will "club", "and even shoot, if necessary", only to keep watch over the television and the main means of information.

A group of seven Members of Parliament of the German Bundestag, the Provincial Parliament of the Northern Reine-Westfally and of the European Parliament, appealed to the President of Serbia today to "convey the conclusions and the recommendations of the OSCE completely and without delay". The Members of Parliament from the German city Achen demanded from Milosevic to commence a far-reaching process of democratization which will contribute to the full reintegration of the country into the international community and the European structures, it is stated in the appeal which was given to the media by the German embassy in Belgrade.

The control of the media is the central issue of the conflict between the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbian opposition, today's "The Independent" writes. Milosevic "is using the monopoly he has on the means of information to preserve the support, especially in the country interior", the BBC radio transmits the article of the British newspaper.

The Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is so unpopular in Kragujevac that, as the today's British newspaper "The Times" estimates, he didn't want to question the electoral victory of the opposition in this city.

Vojislav Seselj, the President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and Jean Marie Le Pen, the President of the French National Front (NF) announced today that they have identical opinions on the struggle against the new world order. Le Pen came to Belgrade on the summon of the SRS. "We came to the general agreement on certain issues and on the means of mutual struggle against tirany of the new world order", Le Pen said at the joint press conference at the end of his three-day visit to Belgrade.

The Assembly of the Municipality of Stari Grad will hold an emergency session on Tuesday, January 28th, on the suggestion of the group of representatives from the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), discussing the endangered security of the citizens, especially students, and the ways of helping the Student Protest. As the announcement of the DSS precisely states, Chief of the Stari Grad police will be invited to the session, and it is expected for the Assembly to, with a severe protest, send a request to the Republic Police for the police cordons to "leave the municipal teritory".

The announced strike of the Independent Syndicate of the City Transportation Organization GSP "Beograd" has been canceled, it was announced today at the meeting of the Executive Board of the Belgrade Assembly. The Independent Syndicate of the GSP, one of the nine in this organization, has, during December of the previous, and January of this year, delivered two decisions about going on strike to the City Assembly, on January 13th and 23rd 1997, due to the wages decrease and the disrespect of the deadlines for the giveout of salaries to the employees.

The Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) harshly condemns the latest beatings and arrests of the citizens throughout Serbia, among whom are the MPs of the SPO. "SPO appeals to all the citizens not to sit at home while the police are beating people on the streets. With our tranquility, but massivity as well, we must show them that we will not sit and wait to be arrested and beaten, one by one", it is stated in the announcement.

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) has announced the possibility of stepping out of the "Zajedno" coalition in the municipalities in which it had joint candidates on this coalition's lists at the past local elections. Milorad Jovanovic, the spokesman for the DSS told the Beta news agency today that the Executive Board of this party recommended to the boards of the DSS to form independent representative groups in the municipalities, "because of the announcements of the "Zajedno" coalition that it will grow into a party".

Dragan Karlavaris, the President of the City Strike Committee of the Independent Syndicate of the Teachers of Vojvodina said that two schools in Novi Sad completely ceased classes today, while they were ceased partly in two elementary and one high school. "We expect that our strike will be joined by our members in 24 more elementary and high schools in the city during this and the following days", Karlavaris told the Beta agency.

The Main Committee of the Socialist Party of Serbia (GO SPS) estimated that the "Zajedno" coalition is denying the freely expressed will of the citizens in Serbia by "agressive pressuring", because it is "discontent with its own electoral defeat, as in all the previous elections", the Belgrade media inform today. "The purpose of their demonstrations is still the same - the violent acquirement of authority, accusations to the people for not chosing their programs and leaders and open terror against those whose political opinions differ from theirs", it is said in the announcement of the GO SPS.

The International Media Institute from Vienna sent an open letter to the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in which it condemns the yesterday's police invasion of the Radio-Television of Kragujevac building. In their letter they express concern because the police forces withheld the two cameramen of the American agency "Associated press" and confiscated the recorded material.

The members of the German Parliament delegation announced today that they arrived in Serbia in order to give support to the protests against the annulment of the local elections' second round results which have been taking place throughout the country.

The representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition in Nis announced today that the Supreme Court of Serbia turned down the complaint of the City Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in Nis and accepted the coalition's complaint, by which four representaive seats of the SPS were annuled. He said that the Supreme Court is considering the complaint of the "Zajedno" coalition regarding eight more representative mandates.

Toplica Djordjevic, the Vice-President of the Democratic Party City Board announced today that the police will be to blame for the possible radicalization of the protests in Nis. "All our previous protests, including the road obstruction, were unviolent, so the use of force by a group of policemen is inadmissible", Djordjevic said.

Jovan Zlatic, the Chief of the Nis County and Goran Nikolic, member of the Executive Board of the City Council of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) refuted the statement of Branislav Todorovic, the Vice-President of the City Government to the "Nedeljni Telegraf", which accuses them of governing the action of placing voters ballots into ballot boxes after the second rounds of the elections. Nikolic said in his written denial that Todorovic will have to prove his words incourt.

Carl Bildt, the High Representative for Bosnia announced today that he is very concerned with the situation in Serbia. After a conversation with Biljana Plavsic, the President of the Republic of Srpska (RS) in Banjaluka, Bildt said that he suggested to the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic a number of times to recognize the results of the second rounds of the local elections in Serbia and commence a constructive dialogue with the representatives of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno".

The European commentators ascertain today that the only conclusion that can be reached from the case of Kragujevac is that compromizing with the opposition is furthest from the minds of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his political headquarters, Mirko Klarin, the correspondent for "Nasa Borba" reports to FoNet. The procedure applied in Kragujevac, in his words, "perfectly illustrates the strategy the regime is willing to use".

Neither solutions nor results of the crisis connected with the annulment of the annulment of the November elections' results are definitely clear in Serbia, the most prominent Slovakian journal "Pravda" ascertains today. "Pravda" also informs about the clashes in Kragujevac and indicates that the Socialist Party of Serbia may induce recievership in Belgrade and organize new elections in the capital "in order to purify it from its sins".

The Steering Board of the Student Protest in Kragujevac issued a request to Zoran Sokolovic, the Minister of the Internal Affairs of Serbia to recieve the student delegation tonight at 20:00, and regarding the yesterday's incidents in Kragujevac. The students of Kragujevac demand the Minister Sokolovic to notify them on the identity of the person who ordered the police to "attack and brutally beat the citizens of Kragujevac and the cameraman of the Associated Press".

Elizabeth Rehn, the Special Informant for Human Rights of the U.N. demanded Milan Milutinovic, the Chief of Yugoslav Diplomacy to provide the media in Kragujevac with complete freedom. Rehn asked the Minister of the Internal Affairs of Serbia, Zoran Sokolovic, not to apply force against peaceful demonstrators.

Zoran Zivkovic, Vice-President of the Democratic Party (DS) appealed to the citizens of Nis to "take an oath to each other" that nobody, "not even Slobodan Milosevic nor the God" will be able to hinder the costitution of "the first liberated City Assembly". It was announced at the rally that the electrotechnical school "Mija Stanimirovic" has gone on strike today, requesting their delayed salaries, but also the resignations of Mirko Marjanovic, the Serbian Prime-Minister and Dragoslav Marjanovic, the Minister of Education. The protest rally was joined by around one hundred students of the musical high school "Dr. Vojislav Vuckovic" who were exclaiming "Resignations" and "Branka is a thief", alluding at the school principal, Branislava Petrovic-Markovic, whose resignation has been requested since the beginning of the second term by 54 out of 65 professors of this school. The rally was ended with the usual walk through the streets of Nis.

Thousands of Sabac residents protested roughly at the today's 54th protest against the disrespect of the local eections results because the local television ceased the broadcast of its program. The local media announced that the reason is the repair of the TV equipment in the Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS), but it can be heard from the well infored sources near to the leadership of this house that "the Kragujevac scenario", where the RTS tried to take the local television over, is about to repeat itself.

The participants in the today's 56th rally of the "Zajedno" coalition in Kragujevac are acquainted with the agreement which has been reached at the talks of the representatives of the Radio-Television of Kragujevac (RTK) and the Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS). The information that the police evacuated the building of the RTK and of the newspaper publishing house "Svetlost" was greeted with a vigorous applause, and so was the agreement that Vidosav Stevanovic, acting Manager of the RTK and his deputy Branislav Kovacevic may enter the RTK building. During the protest an incident almost occurred when the demonstrators spotted a police vehicles and started heading towards them with poles. The automobiles left the protest site. During the rally and the protest walk, the police did not regulate the traffic and weren't located close by.

More than five thousand citizens gathered today in Jagodina at the 67th protest of the "Zajedno" coalition against the annulment of the local elections' results. The MPs of the coalition told the demonstrators that the police forces of Jagodina had not yet returned from the unblocking of Kragujevac.

Approximately 15000 supporters of the opposition protested in downtown Kraljevo today. After the rally in the town center they headed for the protest march. The number of the citizens assembled was slightly greater than in the previous days, which can be attributed to the fact that the police intervened yesterday, preventing the blockade of the Ibar Highway, aided with their clubs.

Around 4000 citizens assembled today in the center of Pirot at the 61 st protest against the annulment of the results of the local elections. After the meeting the 22nd "jail" walk was organized, since the police are still banning marches through the town streets.

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