News for January 26th, 1997
Students facing police cordons in Belgrade's Kolarceva Street introduced a new form of protest on Sunday; the students have started to press police over a public address system to withdraw immeditately. At the top of every hour, students turn their backs on police for a 3-minutes silence in protest at the clashes with demonstrators on Saturday night. The students have also started to boycott the police cordon and friendly chats and food and drinks for the cordon have ceased. A group of journalists from Radio Television Serbia's 3rd Channel also formed their own cordon in front of the riot police. On Sunday, "intermediary" cordons were formed by former and present journalists of Studio B [radio television station, formerly independent but taken over by the Belgrade City Assembly]. Also, about a hundred retired officers of the former Yugoslav National Army and the Yugoslav Army joined students on the seventh day of their protest and formed their own cordon in Belgrade's downtown Kolarceva street, in support of the students.
Bojan Bogdanovic, the spokesman for the Student Protest, summoned all the participants in this protest to join the religious procession honoring the holiday of St. Sava tomorrow, which will leave the Belgrade cathedral at 7:00. He announced at a press conference that the procession will be lead by the Serbian Patriarch Pavle, and asked all the students to show respect to this holiday and refrain from taking banners and school flags to Kolarceva street.
Milan Panic, former Yugoslav Prime Minister and American businessman, who appeared among the students in Kolarceva street, stated that "in the long term, the socialists do not stand a chance". Panic gave a short interview for Radio Index, in which he said that he had been of the same opinion four years ago. He added that this student protest has much better organization than the one which took place four years ago.
The members of the Students' Protest Committee of the University in Nis, started a trip to Belgrade today at noon, carrying the "tree of freedom" and a consecrated lump of "the liberated earth from Nis" to the Belgrade students who have been standing in front of the police for seven days incessantly, it was announced in this committee. "We are carrying the Nis tree of freedom, so it could grow roots and remain in Belgrade", Nikola Bozinovic, the President of the Protest Committee, and added that the students of Nis will join their colleagues in the capital, and form their own cordon in front of the police.
The Initiative Board of Teachers for the 1967/68 generation invited all teachers and their professors to gather in front of the kindergarten "Majski Cvet" in Vasina street at 22:00, in order to give support to the students in Kolarceva street.
The Student Protest 96/97. has harshly condemned the last night's assault of the police forces on the procession of unarmed citizens in Makedonska street. "The police have once again shown that they are not at service to all the citizens, but exclusively to the ruling party, whose orders it executes without question", it is cited in the announcement.
The Belgrade Association of Lawyers demanded on Sunday that police withdraw immediately from the streets of Belgrade and other cities in Serbia and that Serbian Interior and Justice Ministers be replaced. The association's managing board, in its Sunday's session, supported all student demands, urging that these be met promptly. The association is also gathering information on irregularities in electoral procedure and has offered free legal assistance to all citizens who have suffered abuse, arrest and torture at the hands of police or "parapolice," as well to all members of the police who have refused to use force against citizens.
The leaders of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno", Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic accused the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic today, before approximately 20000 people at the protest against the electoral theft, that he wants to "sell Serbia out" and that he is trying to "frighten and exhaust" the protesting citizens. Zoran Djindjic accused President Slobodan Milosevic of auctioning the territories of his country, trying to turn attention from the annulment of local elections. After the speeches of the coalition's leaders the demonstrators went for their usual protest march along the pedestrian zone in the Knez Mihajlova street. The police cordon, blocking the way to Kalemegdan, wasn't absent from its usual post at the end of Knez Mihajlova.
The opposition coalition Zajedno called on all those citizens who have been gathering in Belgrade's Revolution Boulevard near the Vuk's Monument at 19:30 to form a "democratic chain" which would march along the pavements (rather than roads) towards the students in Kolarceva Street on Sunday evening.
In almost all the parts of Belgrade enormous noise was being made again tonight during the prime-time news, and tens of thousands of citizens went to their protest marches again. The police at the crossing of the streets Takovska and Bulevar revolucije tried to stop the citizens, but didn't succeed in it. There were no incidents at this crossing. An automobile ran into the end of a procession near the Tasmajdan park. Nobody was hurt in this incident, and the police managed to enable the driver to move away after the embittered demonstrators started to demolish his vehicle.
At least 20000 Belgrade citizens gathered at Terazije tonight at approximately 20:30 in order to give support to the students of Belgrade, and to, at the same time, protest the last night's beating of the citizens near the "Dom Omladine" in downtown Belgrade.
Around 21:30 this evening, the police used force to disperse a group of some 1,000 demonstrators who were blocking the street near Nikole Pasica Square. Radio B92 broadcasted the information that before the incident at Nikole Pasica Square, the police brutally bashed citizens at Terazije while they were peacefully withdrawing from the street onto the sidewalks. According to the report, six people were injured during this police intervention.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrived in Belgrade on Sunday, bearing a warning from Moscow that implementation of the OSCE recommendations was necessary for Serbia. Mr Ivanov will meet Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Zajedno leaders during his visit. He commented that, although the protests in Serbia were of an internal nature, any escalation of tension would cause complications, not only in Serbia, but also throughout the Balkans.
"'Ajmo, 'ajde, svi u napad" [Come on, Let's go, All Assault -- a cheer used in the current demonstrations in Belgrae, formerly a foot-ball cheer] and 'Pistaljke i jaja' [Whistles and Eggs] are the titles of the latest publications dealing with on-going civil and student protests in Serbia and the developments in Serbian media.
Vojislav Seselj, the President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) conversed today in the Federal Assembly with the multiparty delegation of the Lower House of the Russian Parliament (Duma), headed by this house's Vice-President Sergei Baburin. The Russian delegation arrived in Belgrade on its own initiative, in order to get acquainted with the present political situation in Serbia.
FoNet reports that Moscow media have ruled out coincidence in the simultaneous visits to Belgrade of a delegation of the Russian Duma and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Television NTV has described the visits as long overdue, after two months in which no Russian representatives went to Belgrade to assess the situation there. Moscow sources are quoted as saying that the real aim of the Duma delegation is to assess where the political strength lies in Serbia, while the Deputy Foreign Minister's priority is his meeting with Milosevic.
Democratic Party Vice President Zoran Zivkovic told a protest rally in the city of Nis on Sunday that the real conflict with Serbian authorities will begin once new local authorities are established. Mr Zivkovic reminded a crowd of 10,000 that the new City Assembly, with a Zajedno majority, would be constituted on Monday. He added that Serbian authorities had already taken tax money which should have remained in Nis, and that pensions were delayed.
The "Zajedno" coalition in Nis invited the leaders of the coalition Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic to attend the tomorrow's constitutional session of the new City Assembly. The invitation of the "Zajedno" coalition was sent to Vlada Arandjelovic, the Deputy Republic Minister for Urbanization and other republic MPs from the city, regardless of which party they belong to. The representatives of the Student Protest from all the schools of the University in Nis will also attend the session, as well as a three-member delegation of the citizens who protested for the 70th time on the central square and against the annulment of the results of the local elections in Serbia. The local TV 5 will give direct broadcast of the session.
Zoran Zivkovic, the Vice President of the Democratic Party (DS) declared today before approximately 10000 of those gathered for the 70th time to protest the annulment of the local elections' results, that only after the new local authorities have been constituted, there will be "great clashes between the republic administration and the administrations of the liberated cities and municipalities in Serbia". The today's protest began with a minute of silence, honoring Nikola Koljevic, the former Vice-President of the Republic of Srpska. The rally was ended with the usual roundup of the city streets.
The United City Syndicates (UGS) "Nezavisnost" in Kragujevac invited the workers to come out tomorrow to protest the beatings of this city's residents on January 23rd, when the citizens protested the annexation of the Radio-Television Kragujevac to the state-controlled television. The proclamation of the UGS "Nezavisnost" cites that the workers demand the media freedom, regard of the citizens' electoral will, return of all the employees to work and penalties to those responsible for the beatings of the citizens.
The electoral victory of the opposition in Serbia should be acknowledged without further evasion, and in accordance with the report of the OSCE. Also, a dialogue on democratization and the autonomy of Kosovo should begin, said Klaus Kinkel, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany in an interview published today by the Athenian journal "Katimerini".
Nikola Bozinovic, the spokesman for the Student Protest in Nis stated today that the student protest in that city represents a most radical resistance to the electoral manipulations in Serbia. He said that the University in Nis is the only university in Serbia which has completely been boycotting lectures for the last two months, because no lectures, no signatures given by the professors nor exams have been taking place.
The representatives of the Bulgarian students who are presently visiting Belgrade stated today that they arrived in Serbia to support their colleagues from Belgrade and to discuss future collaboration.
Approximately 2000 citizens of Sabac gathered tonight in the center of the city at the 57th protest gathering against the annulment of the local elections' results.
Around 2,000 thousand citizens of Leskovac made the 58th protest rally against the annulment of local elections in Serbia.
The Assembly of the Municipality (SO) Stari Grad supported the justified protests of the students and citizens on the today's emergency meeting and demanded the urgent removal of the special forces cordons from the territory of this municipality located in downtown Belgrade. The representatives of the SO Stari Grad harshly protested the last night's cruel and unlawful clash of the police with the peaceful citizens before the SO building.
The Association of Drama Artists of Serbia demanded today of the state organs to cancel immediately the "undeclared state of emergency in Serbia" and announced that the theaters would be closed.
Prvoslav Brkic, the President of the Independent Syndicate of the Motor Industry Rakovica (IMR) told the BK Television today that demands were sent to the Republic officials from the meeting of the independent syndicates of 10 Belgrade's factories in the metal complex, and that the deadline for their realization is January 31st. "Due to the extremely difficult position of the workers, we came to the following conclusions: the payout of all the delayed salaries from 1996 until January 31st. If this demand is not met until the predicted deadline, the syndicates of these factories will bring their workers in front of the Republic Government building on February 3rd",Brkic explained.
Several Municipality Councils of the Serbian Socialist Party in Kragujevac rejected the report by the City Council of this party analyzing recent state and local elections and demanded explanations from the leaders of the SPS in Kragujevac for the defeat on local elections. The explanation given to the Municipality Councils by the SPS City Councils are "very unfavorable financial and political circumstances" caused by the sanctions and the "Zastava" factory workers strike.
The University Board for the citizens' initiative in Novi Sad condemned the University Society of Professors in this city for taking part in the organizing of tomorrows' St. Sava Celebration Ball in "Park" hotel. The University Board stresses that the celebration ball in Belgrade was cancelled and that the students thought of the organizing and holding of this ball is a disgrace.
A Committee for Support to the "Zajedno" coalition was founded in Paris yesterday, the President being Anka Grujic-Kulundzic. The Committee released a statement today in which it is estimated that Serbia is experiencing a "massive political movement" which cannot fade away until some "changes for the better" are made.
Annoyed by the noise made during the second edition of the News by RTS, an ex-official of the Military Department in Smederevska Palanka attacked his neighbors and inflicted heavy injuries to one of them, stated the "Zajedno" coalition in this town today. The statement informs that the ex-official Sveta Ristic, with his sons, attacked his neighbors and inflicted heavy injuries onto Sasa Gonsiorovski. The "Zajedno" coalition adds that Mr. Ristic was also under the influence of alcohol.