Thomas Keenan on 5 Oct 2000 03:56:26 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] ICG: Yugoslavia Situation Report #1

Cross-posted from JUSTWATCH-L

International Crisis Group

Yugoslavia Situation Report
No. 1,  Wednesday, October 4, 2000
Prepared by Eric Witte, Washington DC

Second Round:

In interviews Tuesday, opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica again rejected
participation in a second round of presidential balloting scheduled by the
Milosevic regime for Sunday, citing the Central Election Commission's
(SIK) refusal to compare figures: "I cannot ignore the votes and recognize
anybody 's, even Milosevic's right to steal.  Furthermore the authorities
have lied. Who can guarantee that they will not do so in a second, fifth
or tenth round of voting?" He added that the SIK's decision to schedule a
runoff "may be regarded as an invitation to make a deal and must be
rejected."  The Greek press reports today that Athens is encouraging
Kostunica's Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) to proceed to a second


In Belgrade today, 6,000 citizens gathered in Republic Square to sign
criminal charges of election fraud against Slobodan Milosevic and members
of the SIK. Police later refused to admit the charges. Most private shops
in the city are closed today in observance of the strike, though large
state stores remain open. The opposition organization G17-Plus called on
Belgraders to gather for transport to Lazarevac, near the Kolubara mine,
site of a standoff between strikers and forces of the police and army.
Kostunica announced that he would also travel to join the miners at
Kolubara. Medical workers in Belgrade went on strike today, announcing
they would instead visit the "Serbian Gdansk" at the besieged Kolubara

Some 30,000 students marched through Belgrade today and are gathering for
a rally on the university campus this evening. DOS leaders have called on
Serbians from around the country to converge on Belgrade Thursday.
Privately, DOS worries about the potential for violence, as the regime has
planned counter-demonstrations and a heavy police presence is expected.

In Central Serbia, protesters blocked all highways and roads around
Kraljevo this morning; trains from Kraljevo have not been running for two
days. This evening over 16,000 opposition supporters rallied in the town.
Police broke road blockades near Krusevac, only for workers at a nearby
factory to declare a strike and block the roads anew. Tuesday night
protests occurred around Serbia; local media reported high turnouts:
20,000 in Pozarevac; 20,000 in the western town of Uzice; in the South:
15,000 in Leskovac, 6,000 in Vranje, and over 12,000 in Pirot; and in
Vojvodina: 15,000 in Subotica and 8,000 in Sombor.

More workers have joined the general strike: 3,000 miners and managers of
the Majdanpek copper mine walked off the job today.  The union of the
Serbian Electricity Board also announced it will strike. Today 39 of 45
workers at State television and radio (RTS) in Valjevo walked out in
protest of RTS editorial policy; when Belgrade state TV workers arrived
with police to take over the station this afternoon, the strikers refused
to leave, and DOS supporters gathered outside the station, which is now
off the air.


Police and army personnel continued their standoff with striking miners at
Kolubara today. Tension eased when police entered discussion with the
miners, but rose again when the miners received an ultimatum to leave. As
state media dubbed the strike a "crime" and compared it to the NATO
bombing campaign of last year, police attempted to halt a convoy of strike
supporters from Cacak. The protesters reportedly moved police cars in
their path with a crane. This evening, thousands of protesters followed a
bulldozer in breaking through six rings of police surrounding the central
buildings at the mine. While 15-20,000 DOS supporters celebrated, police
retreated to the mine entrance. A Kosovo Serb miners' union today denied
that their workers would replace the striking Kolubara miners, as wished
by the regime. An opposition source reported that a Belgrade judge,
despite a request from the Belgrade district prosecutor, today refused to
sentence leaders of the Kolubara strike.

At confrontations with protesters around the country today, police
refrained from using violence. Yugoslav Army (VJ) chief Nebojsa Pavkovic
warned DOS today that it should not prejudge the election results and
should refrain from criticizing the army. Pavkovic wrote that the victor
in a second round of balloting would be the commander of the VJ. The
Ministry of Information today warned media that it would use "all legal
authorities" to "restrain the spreading of untrue information."  Eighteen
editors from the RTS cultural and entertainment division have called on
the Serbian parliament to sack RTS director Dragoljub Milanovic along with
all other editors behind regime propaganda. RTS Nis has stopped
broadcasting; protesters surrounding its offices had demanded that it
adopt a policy of objective reporting. Security guards at Novi Sad TV
yesterday ordered journalists working on programming in Hungarian,
Romanian, Slovak and Ruthenian languages to leave the building, as their
programs had been cancelled. Following Milosevic's televised address
yesterday, in which he highlighted the threat of separatism among Sandzak
Muslims, Sandzak Muslim leader Sulejman Ugljanin today claimed that ever
since election day there had been a notably suspicious increase in
pro-secessionist graffiti in Novi Pazar.

Citing irregularities in the vote count, a member of the Krusevac election
commission today resigned. The Socialist People's Party (SNP) of
Montenegro announced today that it would remain loyal to the regime, again
nominating Momir Bulatovic as FRY prime minister.

International Reaction:

UN human rights envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Jiri Dienstbier, today
called for the international community to waive Slobodan Milosevic's
indictment for war crimes in exchange for his agreement to step down.
Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla Del Ponte strongly rejected that idea, pointing
out that she is the only one authorised to withdraw an indictment. FRY
ambassador to Belarus Milorad Radevic claimed that Milosevic would not be
interested in escape to that country or any other. Dmitriy Rogozin,
influential chair of the Russian State Duma Committee on International
Affairs stated that Moscow would not hand Milosevic over to the ICTY
should he come to Russia for negotiations. He warned the West that if it
tried "to foil Milosevic's arrival in Moscow and detain him on his way to
Russia, Russia will view this as a hostile move. Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov said today that neither Milosevic nor Kostunica had responded
to President Putin's offer to mediate a solution to the FRY crisis.  US
Vice President Al Gore said in Tuesday night's presidential debate that
Moscow was not a constructive partner in encouraging Milosevic to
surrender power.


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