News for January 27th, 1997

The St. Sava church procession, lead by the Serbian Patriarch Pavle, of several hundreds of thousands of citizens, passed through Srpskih Vladara street on its way to St. Sava's Church. The procession departed in front of the Orthodox Cathedral at precisely 07:30 this morning and accepted in Terazije street 5,000 students, who successfully finished their fourth "cordon vs. cordon" action, since the police forces withdrew from their positions in Kolarceva street around 04:00 this morning. The Liturgy was held in St. Sava's Church starting at 09:00 by the Patriarch Pavle.

After the holy liturgy in Sveti Sava Church on Vracar, His Grace the Serbian Patriarch expressed his best wishes for the students of Belgrade University, and pointed out that "the students have been struggling for truth, justice and democracy in a dignified manner".

The protest rally of the citizens of Belgrade and the supporters of coalition Zajedno began at 15:30 today in Republic Square, near which strong riot police forces were posted.

The riot police cordon, which had been posted in Kolarceva street in the center of Belgrade today, was not withdrawn after the protest rally of Belgrade citizens and oppositional coalition Zajedno. Several thousand people gathered around the police cordon at 15:00, and soon after that the cordon was reinforced.

Oppositional coalition Zajedno announced today that, starting with tomorrow, the protest rallies against the annulment of local elections would be held at 20:30 in Belgrade. The gathering spot would be Republic Square. Protest walks have been carried out in almost all parts of Belgrade between 19:30 and 20:00 every evening, during the prime time news program of the RTS.

The First Municipal Court in Belgrade annulled the decision of the City Electoral Commission, according to which coalition Zajedno won 60 out of 110 mandates in the City Assembly of Belgrade.

The City Assembly in Nis was constituted today. For the first time, the the delegates of the opposition are in the majority. Based upon decisions made by the City Electoral Committee, the "Zajedno" coalition has 41, the Serbian Socialist Party 28 and the Serbian Radical Party 1 delegate. The Supreme Court of Serbia and Municipal Court of Nis are processing the appeals made by the "Zajedno" coalition concerning 12 delegate seats in the City Assembly.

The delegates of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) in the City Assembly of Nis informed the citizens today that they had not attended the constitutive session of the City Assembly in order to avoid possible political and personal conflicts and unwelcome incidents. They added that they would attend the sessions of the City Assembly in future, and participate in its work according to the knowledge, experience and program of the SPS.

The Union of independent syndicates of Belgrade elementary and high schools announced the work stoppage for tomorrow, since the Government had not kept its promise to give the teachers the wages earned by January 1, nor has it raised the price of labor.

The Municipal Court in Jagodina rejected the decisions of the Supreme Court of Serbia concerning the local elections in that town, confirming instead its former decision to the disadvantage of coalition Zajedno. As it was said in the 70th protest rally organized by coalition Zajedno, the delegates of the Serbian Socialist Party had scheduled the constitutive session of the Town Assembly for January 31.

Students of Subotica have announced a protest walk for 19:30 this evening, the time when the prime time news of the RTS (State Television) begin.

Melissa Fleming, the spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), stated today that Milan Milutinovic, the head of Yugoslav diplomacy, had suggested that the authorities in Serbia are ready to start the negotiations with the opposition.

The USA made a protest to the Yugoslav Government this weekend against the violence used by the police against citizens demonstrating peacefully, announced the State Department. Nicholas Burns, the spokesman for the State Department, said that the protest was registered with foreign minister Milan Milutinovic by American charge d'affaires Richard Miles.

Igor Ivanov, the Head of Russian diplomacy, stated this evening, after the conversation with the representatives of coalition Zajedno, that the Russian attitude towards the situation in Serbia was that the realization of the suggestions made by the OSCE would be the first step towards solving the current problems.

Spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated today that france hoped Russia would help the solving of the crisis in Serbia and manage to talk Belgrade authorities into acknowledging the victory of the opposition in 14 cities in Serbia.

Vesna Pesic, President of the Serbian Civil Alliance and one of the "Zajedno" coalition leaders stated for todays "Demokratija" that it would be a disgrace if the "Zajedno" coalition should fall apart.

The Serbian Socialist Party and the "Zajedno" coalition scheduled two separate organizing conferences for the Municipal Assembly of Smederevska Palanka, informs the Beta agency today.

A Delegation of the Russian Duma held talks with Ilija Djukic, President of the Foreign Office of the Democratic Party, about the post-electoral crisis in Serbia, stated the Information Service of this party. Mr. Djukic informed the Duma delegation of the causes for the crisis, the motives for the two-month demonstrations by the citizens of Serbia, the attitudes of the Democratic Party and the "Zajedno" coalition towards the Student Protest, it is said in the statement.

The French daily paper "Liberation" warns today that "Milosevic, perhaps, is actually looking for a way to ignite a suicidal whirlpool of violence" in his country.

Erve de Charet, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, requested from Denmark, which is the head of the OSCE, to put more pressure onto the authorities in Serbia for the benefit of recognition of the local election held in November, informs AFP.

Zoran Tomic, Professor of Administrative Law at the Law School in Belgrade and Mirjana Rasic, solicitor, demanded from the Public Prosecutor to request from the Supreme Court of Serbia for the protection of law in relation to the 43. verdict by the First Municipal Court in Belgrade made on December the 3. Through these verdicts, the First Municipal Court cancelled 33 delegate mandates, which were won by the "Zajedno" coalition on the local elections for the City Assembly of Belgrade.

The 58th coalition Zajedno protest rally against the annulment of the results of local elections was held in Kragujevac today. Several hundred members of the United Branch Syndicate "Nezavisnost" joined the rally.

More than 5,000 citizens of Sabac celebrated St. Sava Day by attending the protest rally in the center of the town.

The 69th protest rally was held in the center of Kraljevo this evening. Several thousands of citizens participated.

The "Zajedno" coalition stated today that the Yugoslav Left candidate for Belgrade, Milorad Mandic Manda, who made a career through television programs for children, drove into a procession of citizens yesterday "with an intention to run over them".

The "Zajedno" coalition stated today that they have all the information on car owners who threatened the citizens during their protest marches last evening.

Zoran Djindjic, the president of the Democratic Party, left for Vienna today, on the invitation of the European Democratic Union, announces the Information Service of that party. He will remain in Vienna until January 29.

Boris Vukobrat, the president of the Foundation for Peace and Solving of Crises, stated today that owing to the protests in Serbia, the world public had finally realized that regarding Serbia and Yugoslavia as identical with their regime was a mistake.

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