News for January 25th, 1997
Belgrade students, who have been standing in front of the riot police cordon for six days, were joined at 14:00 today by teachers of the School of Technics "Petar Drapsin", members of the Independent Syndicates and professional drivers of Serbia, as well as by around 200 doctors and pharmacologists. This evening Belgrade architects, librarians, ballet dancers and artists formed cordons in front of the police. Shortly before midnight on Friday, the students' sixty-fifth day of protest was celebrated in front of the riot squad cordon with an enormous cake bearing the slogans "We Shall Not Crawl" and "Democracy."
At the beginning of the 139th hour of continual standing in front of the police cordon in Kolarceva street, Belgrade students were joined by around 50 journalists from the Forum of the "Politika" Company, who support the citizen protest and do not comply with the editing policy of that firm.
Belgrade Radio B92 invited today all the citizens whose names were Slobodan Milosevic to form a cordon in front of the police cordon in Kolarceva street at midnight.
Former Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Belgrade University appealed today to contemporary Chancellor and Student Vice-Chancellor to resign and to all authorized institutions and individuals to recognize the will of voters and remove the police from the streets. Former Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Belgrade University formed a cordon in front of the police in Kolarceva street at 15:00 today.
Several thousand protesters from the outskirts of Belgrade were walking towards the main group of protesters in Kolarceva street when they were stopped by the police cordon in front of "Dom omladine". Within minutes, policemen had started to beat those in the first lines of the crowd. At least one man was hurt. He was beaten with clubs on the head and arms. Student security immediately arrived from Kolarceva street and prevented more serious clashes from breaking out. The citizen, whose arm was covered with blood, was given medical help at the students' security HQ. Extremely strong police forces were trying to establish regular traffic. The part of Makedonska street in front of "Dom omladine" was closed for traffic.
Police intervention against demonstrators continued on Friday during the prime time news bulletin of state television at 19.30. Physical attacks on elderly people were also reported. Apart from using batons, the police were reported to have driven their vehicles into the marching citizens on several occasions.
Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pavle, will lead a procession through the Belgrade, in honour of St. Sava on January 27. The Church has requested official permission from police for their march through the city centre. The procession is also planned to walk through Kolarceva Street, where students remain blocked by police cordons.
Students of Belgrade University started a new action today, in the course of which they would issue certificates confirming the presence of particular citzens in the protest gatherings - a gesture of thankfulness for the support of their demands. Every citizen who collects ten certificates will receive a letter of thanks from the Student Protest.
The Student Protest 96/97 brought criminal charges against Mirko Marjanovic, the president of the Republic Government, and Zoran Sokolovic, the Minister of Internal Affairs, for abuse of official position and suppressing the right of citizens to move and speak freely.
The Lawyers Chamber in Belgrade demanded today an immediate withdrawal of the police from the streets of Belgrade and other towns in Serbia and the dismissal of the republic ministers of justice and police. In its today's session, the Main board of the Lawyers Chamber decided to support all the demands of students of both Belgrade universities and to request their "immediate fulfillment".
The oppositonal "Zajedno" coalition informed the citizens of Belgrade today that the evening protest walks, beside the usual gathering spots, would be organized in several other streets. "We invite all the citizens of Belgrade to walk along the sidewalks of the biggest democratic promenade in the world.
Around 20,000 citizens of Belgrade attended the 67th protest gathering against the annulment of election results today. Leaders of Zajedno addressed the citizens, accusing President Slobodan Milosevic of leading Serbia into destruction. After the speaches of Zajedno leaders, the demonstrators marched along Knez Mihajlova street, at the end of which a police cordon was posted in order to prevent the procession to enter Kalemegdan park.
The Medical School in Belgrade has supported the protest of Belgrade students, and that is the reason why the lectures are only partly held, stated the professors of this school for the Beta news agency. In the session of the School Council held on Thursday, the demands of Belgrade students got the unanimous support. The demands are the recognition of the results of the local elections and the dismissals of Dragutin Velickovic, Chancellor of Belgrade University, and Vojin Djurdjevic, Student Vice-Chancellor, because they have been ignoring the Student Protest.
France has expressed its strong disapproval of the clashes which occured between the police and the demonstrators in Kragujevac, and gave another warning to the authorities in Belgrade "who seem not to have realized the gravity of the situation in the country".
The participants of the Student Protest in Kragujevac have been informed that during last evening's conversation between the members of the Initiative Committee of the Student Protest and the officials of the police department in Kragujevac, the students were told that the police had intervened "spontaneously" the day before yesterday, when, according to the statement made by the police officials, a member of the "Zajedno" coalition hit a policemen on the face, using a chain.
Leaders of the Student Protest in Kragujevac have decided to present the video recording of the riot police bashing the citizens of Kragujevac, who blocked the road leading from the city to the Beograd - Nis Highway two days ago. The recording, which was, according to unofficial information, looked for by the police these two days, has been copied, in order that the danger of the police laying hold on it should be avoided.
The situation in Kragujevac is calm today after the police left the building of the local television station and the agreement between the city authorities and the management of the RTS was reached yesterday.
Citizens of Kragujevac gathered today - for the 57th time - in the central city square to express their protest against the annulment of the second round of local elections. After the rally, the citizens passed by the hospital, in order to give a get well message to Zoran Simonovic, federal delegate, who had been beaten up by the police on Thursday.
The newly elected management of Radio-television Kragujevac (RTK) entered their offices this morning, after the police left the buiding yesterday. Branislav Kovacevic, deputy manager of RTK, stated for Beta news agency that the new management was trying to cooperare with all the employees, so that some solution could be found before the court reaches the final decision. Kovacevic pointed out that the people from the RTS (State Radio-television Network), who were still in the building of RTK, were behaving correctly.
Professor Rajko Vracar, a former Chancellor of Belgrade University, stated today that the present University Council was an instrument of the one party state and a voting machine. In his interview for the "Nasa Borba", professor Vracar pointed out that in the time of the one-party state and authoritarian rule, a certain amount of respect for the university existed, and that the authonomy of the university was more ample than it is now.
The television station "Channel 4" in Bajina Basta lost its frequency, with the explanation that it disturbs the signals of the Army and the police in that region, announced the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) today. The "Zajedno" coalition won the local elections in Bajina Basta, and elected a new menagement of the television. "Channel 4" had given daily reports of the citizen protests in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia.
Rade Vasilic, the deputy director of the Trauma center in Belgrade stated today that the center had not received any calls for help from citizens hurt during the protest rally in the streets of Belgrade yesterday evening.
Today's protest rally of Zajedno coalition in Zajecar almost turned into serious clashes between the demonstrators and the police. In the moment when Dragoje Lukovic, delegate of Zajedno, was addressing the citizens, around 40 policemen came from the direction of Zajecar police department and were joined by around 20 policemen from nearby streets. Immediately, they started dispersing the citizens roughly. In order to prevent serious clashes, the organizers of the rally led the citizens into the churchyard, whereas the policemen remained outside.
Around 10,000 citizens of Nis gathered today - for the 69th time - to show their protest against the annulment of local eletions. They were addressed by Tihomir Milosevic, a member of the Main committee of the Democratic Party (DS), who said that the people of Serbia would soon be in the position to reinstate democracy and the Serbian Crown. The gathering ended with the usual protest march along the streets of the town.
The 56th protest rally against the annulment of local elections was held in Sabac today. At least 3,000 citizens gathered in the central town square. They expressed their support for citizens and students in Belgrade, Kragujevac and Nis. Numerous policemen were present in the streets while the citizens marched along them.
Approximately 3,000 citizens of Leskovac gathered tonight in the centre of the town on the fifty third day of protest against the annulment of the results of local elections. After the rally, the people of Leskovac, surrounded by police cordons, organized a "prison walk".
The protest against the annulment of local elections in Serbia was continued in Jagodina today. Approximately 3,000 citizens "walked" the streets without any policemen around.
A few hundred of the followers of coalition "Zajedno" protested tonight in the centre of Majdanpek. The leading officials of coalition "Zajedno" in this town said that the followers of the opposition could not go to the protest walk because the police had threatened the citizens.
Milena Milosevic, the president of the Vracar municipality, demanded today of the Head officer of the police department in that municipality to "examine his personal moral responsibility" for last evening's bashing of the citizens on the part of the police officers.
The Committee for political relations of the European Council organizes a discussion about the situation in Serbia on Tuesday. A day later, the same subject is supposed to be discussed in the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council. The Committee invited the representatives of the Serbian autorities and of the "Zajedno" coalition to participate in the discussion.
The Board for the defence of democracy put out a draft of the charter for the authonomy of the University, by which the initiative for passing a new University Law shoud be made. The Council harshly criticised the University Law (1992), which they said represented an attempt by the ruling party to control not only political, but also academic life in Serbia.
A delegation of Russian Parliament headed by Sergei Baburin arrived in Belgrade today, in order to gather information about the current situation in Serbia. During the war in former Yugoslavia, Baburin criticized the politics of Andrei Kozirev, who was the foreign minister of Russia then, and made statements of support for the Serbs in Krajina and Bosnia.
Ratko Knezevic, Head of the Montenegrin Trade Mission to the US and Special Advisor to the Montenegrin Prime Minister, stated in an interview for Belgrade daily 'Nasa Borba' that Montenegro was at a crossroads as to whether to stay in the FR Yugoslavia or to secede.
The strongest opposition coalition in Montenegro, Narodna Sloga (National Unity) issued a statement on Saturday claiming that the "partnership of Serbian and Montenegrin Socialists, which had isolated the two Republics from the democratic world, had reached tragicomic proportions during the events of the past weeks," Montena-Fax reported on Saturday. The statement also said that: "In order to save themselves, the Montenegrin Socialists have tried to distance themselves from their Serbian twin brother."