Serbs have spoken and shown that there is opposition to the present ruling regime. The majority of opposition parties expressed satisfaction with the meeting that took place on 14 April. Some estimates put the total number of demonstrators at 200,000. On the other hand, representatives of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the state-run media accused opposition leaders and protesters of being on the side of the "enemies," and that the messages they conveyed at the meeting were "worse than the NATO bombing itself." State-run media estimated that only 30,000 people attended the meeting.
Here are some highlights from the speeches given at the meeting. Vice President of the New Serbia Party Milan St Protić stated that Milošević needs to leave peacefully and democratically, because there have been plenty of force, lies and defeats in the past. Vuk Drašković told Radio B2-92 that "the people must defeat the fear. If state terrorism continues, people must overcome their fear." Zoran Đinđić said that the opposition needs to stay united, not because of "some love, but because it can only win at the coming elections if they stay united." Nenad Čanak said, "What I said at the meeting was nothing compared to what I actually think. I tried to be moderate, because of other participants... The voters saw the leaders from which they expect change, and the leaders saw that the people want to see the liars and notorious war criminals gone." (Danas, 17 April).
A Belgrade court fined independent news agency Beta and dismissed charges against the opposition newspaper Blic. The libel case was brought by Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matić. Beta said it was fined YUD (Yugoslav Dinars) 310,000 (USD 6900 at the official exchange rate, USD 25,800 at the black market rate). The case against Blic was dropped because it had only carried a Beta report on a student protest last week. Matić sued Beta and Blic for publishing a slogan used during a protest by the student movement Otpor in Sremska Mitrovica: "Goran Matić, who killed Slavko Ćuruvija?" (the editor-in-chief and owner of the daily Dnevni Telegraf and the periodical Evropljanin, who was gunned down in front of his apartment during the NATO bombing). Matić said the report damaged his honor and integrity, and he also accused Beta and Blic of falsely reporting that he owned Radio M in Sremska Mitrovica. In the final decision, it was stated that Matić is not the owner, and that this false information endangered his personal dignity. Blic's lawyer, Borivoj Pajović, said that this accusation is not legally based. "In order to start such a process, two lawful conditions need to be fulfilled. First, that the information is false, and, second, that it insults and degrades one's personal dignity. The first condition was true, however, this did not insult Matić's dignity (Blic, 19 April).
Vojislav Živković, a former senior official of the Socialist Party of Serbia, committed suicide on Sunday night in Smederevo, the independent Beta agency reported, quoting "sources close to the town's investigating authorities." Živković, who was also part of the Serbian delegation at last year's failed Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, France, was reported to have killed himself with a handgun in the town around 40 km southeast of Belgrade, Beta said. It said Živković, who had headed the party in Kosovo since the early 1990s, was sacked after the peace talks, at which the Albanian delegation accepted an international peace plan for the province, while the Serbs refused on Milošević's instructions. (Reuters)
Accused war criminals Bosnian Serbs Miroslav Tadić and Simo Zarić, who were released from the Hague to prepare their defenses, arrived in Banjaluka on 19 April. Tadić expressed that "progress has been made," but that for such an outcome, lots of effort and fighting has been put forth by his lawyers and the Premier of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik. Tadić announced that a "jail is a jail, but we were not subjected to maltreatment or beatings." Zarić sent his greetings to his "colleagues" who still remain in the Hague, and stated that he hopes this to be "the beginning of some happenings" at the Hague.
Republika Srpska Minister of Justice Čedo Vršina expressed his satisfaction with the temporary release of Zarić and Tadić, and pointed out that "the government of Republika Srpska is trying to cooperate with the Tribunal." Vršina announced that the Ministry of Justice in Republika Srpska would offer its cooperation to the Tribunal, explaining that this would "help the status of the incarcerated prisoners from Republika Srpska." According to the law, citizens of Republika Srpska should have a hearing in "our national courts," Vršina concluded (Blic, 21 April).
Vana Suša , 21 April 2000