News for January 31st, 1997

Cedomir Jovanovic, member of the Initiative Board of the Student Protest announced at a press conference that the students will present the judges of the Supreme Court with the electoral and postelection material of the City Electoral Committee. Tanja Milovanovic, member of the Steering Board, who visited Copenhagen last week, on the invitation of the weekly "Politiken", was also present at the conference. She told that she had met with Niels Peterson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, who sent a letter of support to the Student Protest, and that she was a guest at a public, open tribunal organized by the Student Association of Denmark, at the satellite TV and morning programs.

Approximately one thousand Belgrade students assembled at noon today in front of the Supreme Court of Serbia, where they are waiting for a meeting with the state public attorney. The students, who have been protesting the disrespect of the citizens' will for 71 days already, wanted to ask the public attorney to demand the protection of the law against the court decisions by which the mandates in the City Assembly acquired by the "Zajedno" coalition at the local elections on November 17th were taken away. But the three-member delegation of the Student Protest 96/97 didn't succeed in its attempt to speak with Dragan Petkovic, the state public attorney, because they were told, after a half hour wait that he wasn't at the premises.

Thousands of Belgrade citizens gathered today in various parts of the city and then walked to Republic Square to the protest rally. The supporters of the "Zajedno" coalition, headed by Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, pushed away a police cordon in the Vojvode Stepe street tonight and started a protest march. Neither the police nor demonstrators used force. In the very center of Belgrade, on Terazije and in Kolarceva street, the police posted cordons on the streets again, with the purpose of pointing the demonstrators to the sidewalks, but the citizens kept bypassing the police and returning to the street. A few tens of thousands of Belgrade citizens assembled tonight at Republic square, at a rally which ended the 73rd day of protest against the annulment of the local elections' results.

The lawyers of Belgrade started their protest marches through the city streets today, demanding the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections' second rounds, as well as the dismissal of Arandjel Markicevic, the Minister for Justice and Zoran Sokolovic, Minister of Internal Affairs. The Belgrade lawyers entered a general strike which will last until all the demands are met. The lawyers' procession joined the procession which consisted of a few thousand students, who continued the protest march after not being accepted by the public attorney despite their half hour wait.

A delegation of Belgrade lawyers talked with the Republic Minister of Justice Arandjel Markicevic, who told them that "there is no chance" of either his resignation, which is sought by the lawyers, or the acknowledgement of the local elections' results, Radoslav Nedic, the President of the Lawyers' Chamber of Belgrade announced.

The City Electoral Committee (GIK) has annulled its previous decision on issuing certificates to the representatives in the City Assembly of Belgrade who were elected on November 17th last year, so the 57 representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), The Yugoslav Left (JUL) and The New Democracy (ND), as the today's "Dnevni Telegraf" (DT) writes, cannot constitute the new city assembly. The GIK reached a decision, as the DT discovers, immediately after the meeting with the members of the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97. (January 27th) that the certificates to the representatives in the City Assembly (who were elected after numerous complaints, the annulment of the second rounds of the local elections and the court decisions which followed after November 17th) be issued after a temporary postponement.

The students of Subotica published the first issue of a bulletin about their protest against the annulment of the citizens' electoral will, with the picture of the world's most famous walker, "Johnny Walker" on the front page.

The Independent Syndicate of Education of Serbia held a protest gathering in Belgrade today. It was told there that the teacher's strike, protesting the irregular payment of their salaries and low wages, will not be stopped until the demands are met. Slobodan Radulovic, the Vice-president of the Serbian Government accused the Independent Syndicate of Education of Serbia that it wasn't willing to converse with the government representatives. He received loud whistles from the teachers and had to leave the meeting, which took place in the House of the Syndicate.

The professors and teachers of six elementary and high schools in Kragujevac, ceased lectures, demanding the salaries which weren't paid out, and the alteration of the law about employment and collective contract. A protest rally of the teachers where all the demands of the syndicate will be read was scheduled for 10:00 tomorrow. The representatives of the newly elected city authorities will speak at the rally, which will take place "by the cross" in the city center.

The syndicate of the employees in the Electrical Industry of Serbia supported the strike and the demands of the Independent Syndicate of Education of Serbia today.

The Serbian government ordered the Ministry of Education to "apply the regulations of the extant laws literally" towards the schools who have ceased work; these actions include not being able to use the means from the budgets and funds while they are not operating, the today's newspapers report. This decision will be valid until all the educational institutions which are not working, make a program of compensation of the lectures that were lost, as well as all the other responsibilities that weren't carried out, and until these programs are approved by the Ministry of Education.

Tomislav Banovic, the President of the Council of the Independent Syndicates of Serbia stated in Pirot today that this syndicate will organize a general strike, if the Government refuses to accept the demand for the change of the Law on Employment and the model of the transformation of property which is suggested by the syndicate.

The Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) protested most severely today because of the police brutality towards Aca Hajdarevic from Padinska Skela. Hajdarevic was arrested yesterday, according to the announcement of the SPO, "only because he is related to Milorad Loncar, the President of the SPO in Padinska Skela". Hajdarevic received a beating in the police station, and was threatened with dismissal from his job, the announcement also says.

The Regional Council of the European Movement for Serbia was founded in Kragujevac, with the purpose of developing cooperation and free communication with the European countries, as well as promoting the protection of human rights.

Approximately 5000 students and citizens protested on the streets of Subotica last night against the annulment of the local elections' results. The Procession of the citizens was joined by an organized group of 500 teachers, who previously held a protest meeting in the Assembly building.

The 62nd protest rally of the "Zajedno" coalition was held today in Kragujevac, with a few thousand citizens present, who repeated their demands for the recognition of the second rounds of the local elections.

The representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition, lead by Vasilije Todorovic, who was voted new mayor today joined the citizens of Jagodina tonight in the protest march. Approximately three thousand citizens protested the annulment of the local elections in the center of the city. The protest march passed without incidents, although powerful police forces were present.

The reward for tolerance of "Nasa Borba", sponsored by Daniel Tarsis, the General Secretary of the European Council was handed to the representatives of the Student Protest 96/97 today.

Aleksandar Djukic, member of the Initiative Board of the Student Protest 96/97. expressed his satisfaction today because of this year's reward for tolerance which was awarded to the Student Protest by the Belgrade newspaper "Nasa Borba". "We are pleased that this reward is for tolerance, because we showed that some things in this country can and must be solved in a peaceful way. I hope that the authorities will realize that also, and that they will accept the student requests and solve the arising problems in a nonviolent way", Djukic stated at a press conference.

The University Initiative Board for the defence of democracy fully supports the suspension of operation and other means of protest by its colleagues, professors and teachers in elementary and high schools, it is said in the statement of the Board.

The fifth extension of the constitutional session of the Assembly of the Municipality (SO) of Pirot was discontinued because they didn't have the quorum, that is, because the representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia and one representative of the Serbian Radical Party didn't appear at the meeting. The session of the SO Pirot, at which the constitution of the municipal government will by continued is scheduled for February 6th.

The "Zajedno" coalition in Jagodina constituted a new municipal government based on the electoral results from November 17th past year, according to which the coalition won 34 out of 63 representative seats. On the arrival of the 34 representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition, and the verbal duals of the representatives of the two opposing parties, the representatives of the Socialist Party and the Yugoslav Left, walked out from the session.

Miroslav Klacar, the Chief of the Representative Club of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in Kragujevac stated that the representatives of the SPS in the City Assembly will "use all legal means to overturn the unlawful decisions" on the Statute alteration, which were reached at the latest session of the Assembly.

The Center for Cultural Decontamination expressed regret today because of the decision of the Yugoslav Embassy in Paris not to issue visas to the guests of this Center: Jerome Clemont, the President of the "Art" television company, Jacques Jilliard, the editor of the "Neuelle Observateur" weekly and Fevre Darcy, the director of the theatrical festival in Avignon. The guests from France were announced as participants of the tribunal "The freedom take-off" where they supposed to discuss the freedom of speech in the media and culture.

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