News for January 30th, 1997

Around 10,000 students of Belgrade University started their today's protest walk from the square in front of the central railway station. The students' procession went by the building of the state television and radio, following the route which they had usually taken before December 26th, when the police banned all marches through the city. The riot police could not be seen in the streets today, and students were moving along the right tracks of the streets.

700,000 citizens, i.e. 12% adults, participate actively in the protest rallies in Serbia, show the results of a research conducted by the Institute of Social Sciences, which were presented in Belgrade today.

The Assembly of Deans, managers of institutes and members of Educational-scientific Council of Belgrade University expressed its nonconfidence in Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic, accusing him of the crisis in University management. The session held at the School of Philosophy was attended by 20 of 30 Deans of Belgrade schools and by directors of eight existing institutes. It was called because of the grave crisis at the University and because of the duty of the Deans to protect the University, its schools and students. The Assembly decided unanimously to break off all communication with the Chancellor until a new Chancellor and a new staff in Chancellor's office have been elected. Further communication with the present Chancellor will be conducted through the eldest Vice-chancellor.

The Assembly of the Deans and managers of the institutes of Belgrade University gave credit to the students of both Belgrade Universities for their two-month protest against the violation of the electoral will of citizens. The position of a high number of professors and assistants at the University, who had stood by students and supported their demands, was estimated as positive.

The session of the Scientific-educational council of Belgrade University, called on the sudden by Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic, was not held today for lack of quorum. Only ten of thirty Deans of Belgrade University showed up for the meeting. Velickovic said at the beginning of the session that the Council did not have a quorum, but added that a working meeting could be held in which the normalization of lectures at the University would be discussed, as well as the constitutive session of the University Council, since the mandate oh the present Council terminated on January 23rd. Chancellor Velickovic said that the normalization of lectures was necessary, and that it was the major problem, and not his resignation. One of the Deans asked the chancellor to explain the purpose of the session without the quorum. Velickovic said that the session of the Educational-scientific Council could not be held, but that he would answer the questions of the reporters, upon which the Deans left the meeting.

Citizens of Belgrade made a lot of noise during the prime time news program of the RTS (State Radio-television Network) this evening. Citizens gathered in various parts of the city, in order to start for Republic Square, where the 72 protest rally was held, in organized groups.

More then 50000 citizens assembled tonight at the rally on Republic Square, after arriving from approximately twenty Belgrade's communities, some more than ten kilometers away. The citizens from almost all parts of Belgrade started to gather at Republic Square a little after 20:00, and the last procession, which was lead by Vuk Draskovic, came from Banovo Brdo at around 21:30. The demonstrators carried posters with the names of their communities, as well as party flags.

Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of coalition aZajedno, stated today in the protest rally in Belgrade that the opinion of Zoran Lilic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that the suggestions made by the OSCE should be accepted and that a democratic dialogue should be entered upon, was in no way different from the position of coalition Zajedno. The citizens of Belgrade have been protesting against the annulment of the results of local elections for 72 days now. Strong police forces blocked the center of the city today and prevented the citizens from walking through Terazije and Srpskih Vladara street after the completion of the rally, but they did not prevent the citizens from various parts of Belgrade from walking towards Republic Square.

The European Council adopted a resolution last night, in which it was pointed out that the recognition of human rights and democracy in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is essential for peace and stability on the Balkans, as well as for the realization of the Dayton peace agreement. The resolution, adopted in the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, condemns the annulment of the opposition victory in the second round of local elections in Serbia and expresses the solidarity of the Council with those who have been demonstrating peacefully, determinedly and courageously against manipulations, and for democratic reforms.

Coalition Zajedno condemned today the persecution of journalists and the repression against them, and expressed its support for journalists' struggle for basic human rights, including the right to work. Coalition Zajedno appealed to all journalists of Serbia to join the struggle for the freedom of media, as one of the main demands of the citizen protest, without which democracy would not be introduced in Serbia.

161 out of the whole of 178 Belgrade schools have gone on strike because of unpaid wages. This means that only 17 belgrade schools, the teachers of which are members of the Independent education syndicate of Serbia, are not on strike, says Jagos Bulatovic, president of the syndicate. 19 schools in Cacak, 17 in Valjevo and many other schools in Serbia have entered the strike.

Serbian Government instructed today the Ministry of Education to follow the the existing legal regulations in its conduct towards the schools which had discontinued the lectures, including the regulation which determined that they could not use the means from the budgets and funds for the period during which they had not worked. This decision will be valid until the educational institutions which have gone on strike make projects for compensating the lectures, and until the Ministry of Education confirmed those projects.

Milan Stanic, Head of Novi Sad department of the Ministry of Education, demanded today in the Assembly of Vojvodina that the headmasters of primary and secondary schools in Juznobacki county should find the teachers who do not support the general strike of teachers, so that the lectures could be resumed. He stated that the demands of the teachers' syndicate were impossible to fulfill, but suggested that further decisions should be made after the results of the negotiations between the syndicate and the Republic Government, scheduled for tomorrow, are known. Danilo Gacic, headmaster of the secondary school of civil engineering in Novi Sad, said that headmasters could not prevent the strike.

Teachers of the First gymnasium and secondary school of technical engineering in Kragujevac went on strike today, demanding the payment of their December salaries and the advance payment for January. Dragan Karajovic, president of the district board of the teachers' syndicate, said that many schools had announced they would go on strike tomorrow.

Teachers of the secondary school of agriculture in Sabac went on strike today, demanding that they should receive their wages. It has been announced that the schools of technical engineering and medicine would join the strike on Monday, whereas the remaining 12 schools in Sabac should decide during the weekend whether to go on strike. Primary school "Stojan Novakovic" in Sabac went on strike three days ago.

The participants of the 61st protest rally of coalition Zajedno in Kragujevac were read the names of those who had taken part in bashing the citizens on the road leading for Batocina on January 23.

The City board of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) in Kragujevac sent an open letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, in which they demanded that he should start legal proceedings and punish those policemen who had committed the barbaric acts on January 23, when they bashed a number of Kragujevac citizens, one of whom was Zoran Simonovic, a federal delegate. In order to express their dissatisfaction and protest against the electoral theft, the citizens had blocked all the roads leading towards Kragujevac, and during the police intervention they had been sitting on the road, explained the SPO board in the letter.

The 75th protest rally organized by coalition Zajedno was held in the center of Prokuplje this evening. According to the report of the coalition, representatives of the Student Protest in Nis addressed the several thousands of citizens gathered in the central square.

Around 2,000 citizens of Pirot gathered today in the central square to protest against the annulment of the second round of local elections for the 67th time.

Bogoljub Pejcic, a republic delegate of the Serbian Renewal Movement, stated today in Leskovac that coalition Zajedno would not "behead" its opponents, although it would call them to account for robbing the people. In front of approximately 2,000 citizens gathered in the 58th protest rally in the center of Leskovac, Pejcic said that President Slobodan Milosevic "will lose the battle, because he no longer has any friends in the world". The protest rally was finished by the so called "prison walk" of the citizens, who walked with hands upon the backs of their heads. Another protest rally will be held at 17:00 tomorrow.

Around 1,500 citizens of Krupanj protested yesterday evening, for the 8th time, against the annulment of the results of the second round local elections in Serbia.

Vojislav Seselj, the president of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), said today that his party had evidences that the protests in Serbia are directed by special war experts from the USA and Germany. He said to a press conference that the student delegation had gone to the USA to get the directions for conducting the protest.

Zoran Milenkovic, a delegate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) in Pirot Assembly, who had been expelled from the SRS because he woted for the new president of Pirot Assembly Tomislav Panajotovic, member of coalition Zajedno, joined the Democratic Party today and entered the delegate team of coalition Zajedno. Milenkovic said that he voted for the president not because of his political affiliation, but because of his ethical and human qualities.

The municipal Executive board of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) and the delegate team of that party in the Town Assembly of Pirot condemned today the action of a delegate of the SPS, who voted for coalition Zajedno delegate Tomislav Panajotovic as president of the municipality.

Vesna Pesic, president of the Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS) stated that introducing temporary administration in Belgrade would mean introducing the state of emergency, which would only aggravate the crisis in the country. Commenting on the possible President Milosevic's suggestions for ending the crisis in Serbia, Vesna Pesic said that he would probably call new local elections.

The reconstruction of the Serbian Government, which was announced by President Slobodan Milosevic, has already been finished, and Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic will remain in his position, claim the "Vecernje Novosti' today.

The New Democracy (ND) expects the political crisis in Serbia to end in a very short time, with the full acceptance of the report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), stated Rebeka Srbinovic, the spokeswoman of that party, today.

The Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ), led by Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, expressed today its "dissatisfaction and astonishment" at the pressure put by representatives of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) on Dragan Markovic, delegate of the SSJ in Jagodina. Markovic had been elected a delegate in the Town Assembly of Jagodina in the first round, and the JUL, which had won four mandates after the fifth round, demanded of him to join them, so that they could form a delegate team, announced the SSJ.

Representatives of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) in Nis announced today that they supported the current strikes and added that they represent serious breaking of the bans imposed by the authorities which had economically destroyed the country and its people. The DSS in Nis informed a press conference that they especially supported the justified strike of primary and secondary school teachers, since the situation in the sphere of education was catastrophic.

According to the announcement of the jury of the "Nasa Borba" newspaper, the Student Protest 96/97 is the winner of this year's prize for tolerance, awarded by that newspaper. Latinka Perovic, the president of the jury, stated that the Student Protest had shown great persistence and patience in a tense situation and aroused the hope that conflicts in our society could be solved without the use of force.

County board of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) in Leskovac announced today that the protest gatherings of citizens organized by coalition Zajedno had begun in Lebane, and that a protest rally had been scheduled in Vlasotinac for February 1.

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