Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 10
13 March 2000

Hungarian News Round-up C E N T R A L   E U R O P E A N    N E W S:
News Round-up for Serbia
News from Serbia since 5 March 2000

Vana Suša

In the early hours of the morning of Monday 6 March, an unknown group of people in police uniforms beat one employee and one security guard at one of the biggest Serbian opposition-run television stations, Studio-B. The assailants destroyed the station's transmitters, which temporarily stopped its programming as well as the programs of radio station B2-92, which uses the same transmitters. One of the Studio-B employees who was attacked, Mirko Slavković, stated that the attack occurred around 3:00 AM, when men dressed in police uniforms marched in, tied him up with wire and covered him with a blanket while they beat him with a gun. Dragan Kojadinović, the director of Studio-B, said that the attack was conducted by five people dressed in police uniforms. Kojadinović added that it will take several days in order to reinstall equipment. (Glas, 8 March).

Opposition leaders held a meeting in defense of Studio-B, right after news of the attack became known. They stated that unless the regime stops its terror campaign against Studio-B and other independent television stations, leaders of the democratic opposition will call on Belgraders and all other Serbian citizens to defend Studio-B. The meeting was attended by Serbian Renewal Party leader Vuk Drašković, Democratic Party leader Zoran Đinđić, Vladan Batic, the coordinator for the Alliance for Change, Nebojša Čović, the leader of the Democratic Alternative Party, Vojislav Koštunica, the leader of Democratic Serbian Party, Žarko Korać, the coordinator for the Alliance of Democratic Parties, Goran Svilanović, the leader of the Civic Alliance of Serbia. Also, Belgrade Mayor Spasoje Krunić stated that the "regime of Slobodan Milošević will be held responsible" for all consequences of the terror campaign (Blic, 7 March).

Beginning Monday 6 March, more than 250 primary and secondary schools in Serbia went on strike. Teachers as well as students voted for a general strike, which was carried out in order to protest the low salaries that are determined by the government of the Republic. Salaries in the education sector are 25% smaller than the average salary in Serbia, and, as the education sector claims, there is no other country in Europe where the education system is so centralized, and in which salaries are so low in comparison to average salaries. The government offered a raise of 10% to the protestors, which is not acceptable to the teachers, who requested at least a 40% raise. One out of every eight schools in Serbia is closed, because of the protest (Glas, 6 March)

Nebojša Čović, the president of the Democratic Alternative Party, accused the government of oppressing the Serbian people. "With an increase of oppression in relation to independent media, the Serbian government has created space for oppression without a witness." Čović said that there are three kinds of oppression: oppression of the media, of the financial sector and political oppression. According to Čović, the attack on Studio-B could was expected, and he estimated that the next possible targets are electronic media. All of this, according to Čović, will ultimately lead to a confrontation between independent journalists and the government.

Nine years after the first demonstrations against Milošević's regime, a united opposition coalition gave up on marking the anniversary, as they had been planning to do since 10 January 2000. On 9 March 1991, two thousand demonstrators lead by the Serbian Renewal Party (SPO) attended a meeting requesting the resignation of the officials at the state-run Radio and Television Serbia (RTS). Clashes between demonstrators and police began early that day, when police attempted to break up the meeting. Vuk Drašković, the leader of the SPO, spoke from the terrace of the National Theater in downtown Belgrade calling for an attack on RTS, when police started to use billy clubs, guns and water canons to disperse the crowd. One police officer and one high school student died and 114 people were wounded in the melée. On 9 March 2000, nine years later, Vuk Drašković, together with SPO members, laid flowers on the Squre of the Republic, where the demonstration began, in memory of the dead.

After meeting with US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, stated that the US and Western Europe have pledged their support for Montenegro, should it have to defend itself against Serbia. "We are very concerned with the recent moves of the Yugoslav regime, which have put pressure on the media, economy, political stability and military of Montenegro," said Đukanović, who pointed to the role of the Yugoslav army as an example. "The aim of the Yugoslav Army is to disturb and slow down Montenegro's decision to open its borders with Albania," Đukanović added. Madeline Albright welcomed the reasonable and tolerent politics of the Montenegrian government, which has sought to avoid conflict provoked by the Milošević regime. "Montenegro is not ready to make any compromises. Since dissatisfaction among Montenegro's population grows daily, the people in Montenegro believe that the seccession of Montenegro is the only way out... The possibility of the Yugoslav Federation still exists, but, unless changes are made, we will be forced to continue alone," stated Đukanović.

Vana Suša, 11 March 2000


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