News for February 26th, 1997

Two students of the School of Geography were arrested today, after the attempt of approximately 100 students of this school to reach Tolstojeva street number 33, and present professor Mirjana Markovic, wife of the Serbian President with the pin "A student of geography". According to the announcement of the Student Protest, Zarko Sikman, a student of geography and member of the security and Boris Subasic, photographer of the magazine "Duga" were arrested and released soon afterwards. They were arrested on their way back from the Tolstojeva street, and released almost immediately, because, by the words of Shift Manager of the Department of Internal Affairs of Savski Venac, "there were no grounds for bringing charges against them". When asked by the students why the students were put under custody, the Shift Manager only shrugged his shoulders, the announcement states. In the today's action, about a hundred students of the School of Geography reached number 29 in Tolstojeva street on Dedinje, where they were stopped by a policeman in a patrol vehicle. The students then returned to the Plato before the School of Philosophy.

The students of the School of Mechanic Engineering and of the Law School, in their "search" for the Chancellor of the Belgrade University, whose resignation they are demanding, visited the clairvoyant Branka Simic, prophet by profession in the agency "Zvezdano oko". A few hundred students brought the Chancellor's photograph and his birth date to the clairvoyant Branka, because the Chancellor Velickovic is "a missing person, persistently pursued by the students". Only two students attended the seance, and were told by the prophet, who did a complementary card-reading for them, that the Chancellor "is very eager to help the students" and that "he wants to resign, but that some people are pressuring him forcibly not to do so". "Following the orders of these people, the Chancellor was sent to a voyage, but now he is safe and sound in Belgrade", Ivan Marovic, student of the School of Mechanic Engineering transmitted Branka's words to the press.

The students of both Belgrade Universities sent out a message today, on the 97th day of the Protest that they will not give up on their demands for the dismissal of the Chancellor of the Belgrade University Dragutin Velickovic, and of the Student Vice-chancellor Vojin Djurdjevic. "We will not give in an inch in our demands and will return to classes only after we have seen fresh seals on the letters of resignation from the Chancellor and the Student Vice-chancellor", Dusan Popovic, member of the Main Board of the Student Protest announced, before a few thousand students gathered at the Plato before the School of Philosophy. A few thousand students then went for their usual walk through the Belgrade streets, which started at 15:30.

The session of the Council consisting of Deans, managers of the institutes and members of the Scientific-educational Council of Belgrade University, which was scheduled for today, has been moved to 13:00 tomorrow. The session has been postponed because of further preparation of decisions concerning Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic.

Approximately 1000 teachers assembled today at noon at their protest before the building of the Serbian Government in Belgrade. Among those gathered, blocking the traffic at one of the busiest crossroads in the city, were the members of the Independent Syndicate and of the Belgrade Board of the Independent Syndicate of Education, who are not supporting the yesterday's decision of the Republic Board of the same syndicate regarding the cessation of the teachers' strike which has been going on since the beginning of the second term.

The Belgrade students gave out pamphlets today, on the 97th day of the Protest, in which it was claimed that the highest officials of the Socialist Party of Serbia control the majority of student institutions and organizations in Belgrade and Serbia.

Malcolm Rifkiend, Chief of British Diplomacy, talked today with the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic. "We had an extremely valuable meeting with our friends from Serbia, and are very pleased to greet them here in Great Britain", Rifkiend said after the meeting at a joint press conference. Rifkiend said that London "heartily supports the process of democratization in Serbia and we are filled with respect towards all the activities of hundreds of thousands of people in Serbia, whose peaceful and dignified protests deserved the admiration towards their efforts for starting democratic changes".

The ruling left is preparing for the republic elections at the end of the year and getting ready for the unification of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Yugoslav Left (JUL) writes the "Nedeljni Telegraf". The newspaper claims that the idea about the unification "is being considered in the summits of the two parties, and that the details are being held under a triple lock and key".

The forum of the Belgrade high schools declared today that there are still no classes in any of the Belgrade high schools, because the Serbian Government doesn't respect the Law on Employment nor its obligations stated in the special collective agreement regarding the salaries and the regularity of their payment.

The Board for the Formation of the Serbian Parliament appealed to the Chancellor and the Student Vice-chancellor of the University in Belgrade to fulfill the student demands concerning their replacements and thus contribute to the solution of the existing crisis. At the session of the Board it was estimated that the social status of the teachers in Serbia is disturbing, and that the discontent in the profession is completely justified.

Vojislav Kostunica, President of the Democratic Party of Serbia, estimated today that, after the recognition of the results of the local elections, the issue of other obligations towards the authorities in Belgrade which result from the Gonzales' report receives the greatest significance. Those are, Kostunica reminded at a press conference, commencement of a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, liberation of the media and the democratization of Serbia in general.

The Serbian Renewal Movement estimated today that, if the Serbian authorities really want to democratize the means of information, they need not wait for the new Law on the Media, because they can make the state radio-television available for the opposition immediately.

The strike of the kindergarten employees in Belgrade is continuing, although the legal obligations about retaining the minimum of the operation process are being minded, the representatives of the Syndicate of the Employees of the Pre-school education and schooling of Belgrade decided unanimously at their session today. The representatives of the City Assembly summoned the negotiation group of the Syndicate to talk with the Belgrade mayor Zoran Djindjic on Monday, March 3rd about the improvement of the material status of the pre-school workers, the announcement from the session of the Syndicate states.

The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) offers its full support to the measures of the Serbian Government and its determination to completely provide the undisturbed educational process in the elementary and high schools and at the universities, it was concluded at the today's session of the Executive Board (IO) of the SPS, presided by its General Secretary Gorica Gajevic. The announcement of the Information Service of the IO SPS, transmitted by the Belgrade media cites that the IO estimated that the Serbian Government showed maximum understanding for the social position of the teachers, since their demands were met as much as it was possible without questioning the foundations of the state economic system, considering the general economic and social situation in the society.

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