News for January 29th, 1997

Several thousands of Belgrade students gathered on Wednesday at central Belgrade's Slavia roundabout for an exercise called "motion of an organized column of citizens through inhabited areas" They also donated blood at the near-by Blood Transfusion Centre. The students completely blocked the traffic at the roundabout as they came from their respective schools. The exercise was organized by students from the Belgrade School of Traffic who had previously informed the city chief of traffic policemen of their intention. The aim of the "public exercise" was to train citizens to properly and safely move in oranized columns along pavements and driveways in accordance with current Traffic Safety Law. No riot police interfered with the students and there were few traffic policemen.

The Student Protest '96/97 denied Tanjug's comment of January 28 regarding the stay of the student delegation in the USA and stated among other things: "The statement made by an anonymous author of Tanjug that our delegation in Washington has been for the reinstallment of sanctions towards the Serbian people is a rough lie. Our delegation has insisted on the bringing down of the sanction wall, which our government doesn't acknowledge, but which are a reality for our people."

The Belgrade students appealed to the lawyers to support them at today's session of their association and start a general strike. "We consider that the lawyers are in the best position to raise their voices against breaches of the law," said the the students in their statement.

Belgrade lawyers decided this evening to go on strike, which shall last until the results of local elections, held on November 17, have been recognized. The Lawyers' Chamber in Belgrade announced that their protest rally would begin in front of the building of the Supreme Court at 12:00 on Friday. Belgrade lawyers decided to go on strike not only because of the annulment of the results of local elections, but because of the present situation in the judiciary as well. They demand the dismissals of Arandjel Markicevic, the Serbian Minister of Justice, and Zoran Sokolovic, the Minister of Internal Affairs, whom they hold responsible for the two-month demonstrations of citizens and students. Belgrade lawyers stated they fully approve of the demands of the Student Protest 96/97.

Professors of the School of Drama Arts and the Medical School Predrag Bajcetic and Slobodan Marinkovic-Moca said today that the students have become the "crusaders of the new Serbia" and that the fight for it will last until the student demands are met. After the student walk from Slavija to the Plato in front of the School of Philosophy, Bajcetic thanked the students for announcing him as a "walker" and a "man from the streets".

Leaders of the coalition Zajedno, Vuk Draskovic and Vesna Pesic once again appealed to the regime to acknowledge the results of the second ballot of the local elections held on November 17, to enable the democratic and economic renaissance of the country and its integration into the international community. For the first time in the 70 days of protest the rally started at 8.30 pm. Tens of thousands of people came to the center from different parts of the city in huge processions. Strong police forces were posted at Terazije, near Republic Square, this evening, and a police cordon in Kolarceva which was in the same spot as it was during the seven days of the student "Cordon vs. Cordon" action, prevented the people from going towards Terazije. A number of citizens turned their backs on the policemen, which was a gesture of protest.

Branko Todorovic, the former vice-president of the Executive Committee for Nis and one of the former heads of the Socialist Party of Serbia in this city was summoned by the court in Nis, after three sets of charges were brought against him. The same source stated that one of the charges was brought by the coalition Zajedno for the "theft of election material". The formal statement reads that Todorovic, together with his "mercenaries" broke into the ballot stations and seized records and voting boxes. Todorovic stated in an exclusive interview on January 22 that SPS had faked the elections Nis, but denied being directly involved in the inserting of phoney ballots. There were between 15 and 20 thousand fake ballots according to him.

US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and representatives of the European Union (EU) agreed in Washington that the pressure on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize the November local electoral results should be continued, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Mrs. Albright met on Tuesday with Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Van Mierlo and European Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Britain to discuss the trans-Atlantic cooperation and its effect on international politics.

There was no class in most of the elementary and high schools in Vojvodina because of the general strike of the education workers. Over 300 of the 490 elementary and high school in Vojvodina has joined the strike. The education workers demand the payment of all unpaid salaries and that their future pays will be paid on time and at the new higher rate. More than 600 schools in Serbia are on strike, stated Jagos Bulatovic president of the Independent Education Syndicate.

Ire Kern, president of the Executive Board of the County of Subotica supported the demands of the education workers and told them to endure in their strike "without the feeling of fear and guilt".

The coalition Zajedno strongly protested another use of force by the police which happened last night during the protest walk in Smederevska Palanka, it was stated in the announcement of the coalition.

Dusan Derovic, president of the County Board of the Democratic Party (DS) in Smederevska Palanka was called by the police for an informative talk. Darovic was called following last night's protest walk and was put before a judge.

The Army Headquarters of the Yugoslav Army (VJ) denied the "allegedly confirmed information" that servicemen are in the police cordons and repeated that the VJ is neutral.

Vesna Rakic-Vodinelic, member of the Legal Council of the coalition Zajedno stated that the coalition submitted the demand to the Supreme Court of Serbia for the extraordinary examination of the decision of the First County Court in Belgrade. By this decision the decision of the City Electoral Committee was annulled, according to which the coalition Zajedno won 64 of 110 mandates in the City Parliament.

Igor Ivanov Deputy to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated today that Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia told him that proposals for the resolution of the crises will soon be formulated.

A group of permanent and temporary assistants of the Third Channel of the Serbian National Radio-Television supported the student protest today and expressed the opinion that it is "independent and of good intention". In the statement which was signed by Dragan Pesikan in the name of about fifty employees, it was stated that because of the support they expressed some of the employees of the Third Channel have suffered consequences.

Kristivoje Arandjelovic, the Chief of police in Sokobanja brought criminal charges against the two leaders of the coalition Zajedno in Sokobanja, Dragoje Lukovic and Vojislav Jankovic. The charges state that Lukovic and Jankovic "are guilty of walking the streets while whisteling, throwing firecrackers and disrupting the peace and order with their noise, without announcing the gathering with the police."

Vojislav Kostunica, president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) stated today that the Socialist Party of Serbia "cannot" constitute the City Parliament of Belgrade and estimated that this is the result of a number of internal and external pressures did indeed affect the decisions of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. Kostunica said that this "puts Belgrade at a turning point".

Zoran Djindjic, president of the Democratic Party (DS), who returned from a one-day visit to Austria, stated that all his contacts there expressed the necessity for the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections held in Serbia on November 17.

First in the series of discussions regarding the democratization of the media which was organized by the Initiative Committee for the Defence of Democracy at the University of Belgrade, will be held at the School of Philosophy today at 6.

Vladimir Ognjanovic, candidate for the Socialist Party of Serbia on the recent elections attended the rally of the coalition Zajedno in Kragujevac. Ognjanovic refused to protest against the electoral results and write objections.

Around 2,500 citizens of Subotica attended this evening the protest rally against the annulment of the results of local elections. Today's protest rally was noisier and more numerous than any of the previous ones. Students of Subotica, while they walked along the city streets, were greeted by sounds of car sirens. The police did not prevent the students and the citizens from walking.

The 72nd protest rally of coalition Zajedno was held in Jagodina this evening. There were no policemen in the streets, and the protest rally ended without any unwelcome incidents.

Around 2,000 citizens of Pirot gathered in the center of the town this evening to express their support for the citizens of Serbia who have been protesting against the annulment of the second round of local elections. The police prevented the citizens from walking around town, so the protesters walked in circles in front of the police cordon.

Branislav Jovanovic, president of the City Government in Nis, stated this evening that the newly elected authorities in that city would follow the principles of democracy, ethics and honesty.

Aleksandar Tijanic, the former Minister of Information in the Serbian government and manager of BK Television and the owner and Slavko Curuvija, the chief editor of "Dnevni Telegraf" founded a new weekly "Gradjanin" (Citizen).

Prince Aleksandar stated today that the "negative use of electronic media, when it is used for propaganda and lies, a crime against humanity." In the message to the employees of RTV Kragujevac, Karadjordjevic said that the "radio and television services of vital importance when it comes to the informing, education and entertainment of the people." Princ Aleksandar was the first polled in the poll of the local radio station regarding the media.

The Secretary of Internal Affairs in Belgrade stated today that Aleksandar Rakas (19) ran into a group of people during the protest walk on January 28, and injured two people. Adequate legal measures have been brought against Rakas.

The collegium of the Independent Student Movement (NSP) estimated that the sensation of lectures at most of the schools of the Belgrade University is the "worst repercussion of the Student Protest 96/97", because there is practically no way of continuing classes, "with which the whole student population is permanently damaged".

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