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Serbia: More Demonstrations Today In Belgrade


Belgrade, 3 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - There were more street demonstrations in Belgrade today against Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

About 20,000 student protesters marched through the city in the latest protest against the government's cancellation of municipal elections which the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition had claimed victory.

As demonstrators passed in front of Serbia's parliament, some put on gas masks and sprayed the building with messages such as "Red Bandits" and "Thieves." AP says that at one point the column of marchers came across a busload of police and gave the traditional Serb three-finger salute. Police are said to have responded in the same way, apparently in sympathy with the protesters.

Although the Interior Ministry is pressing with the mobilization of the police force, police today continued to take no action against the demonstrations in Belgrade. But police have reported the arrest of 32 people over the past several days. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic protested the arrests and asked for the immediate release of all detained.

Today five Supreme Court judges added their weight to the protests. In an open letter to the "Nasa Borba" newspaper they criticized the annulling of the election results as a "criminal act."

Meanwhile Carl Bildt, the international mediator for ex-Yugoslavia, said today in Lisbon he was "particularly concerned" by indications that Milosevic might use force to crush the demonstrations. Bildt, who attended the OSCE summit, said the only way out for Milosevic would be to agree to an internationally monitored re-run of the elections.

Also today, Serbian authorities appear to have shut down Radio B-92, Belgrade's only independent radio station, as street protests against the government continued. Reuter reported that Radio B-92 went off the air at 15:00 (3 p.m.) local time today.

Earlier, Reuter quoted Veran Matic, an editor at Radio B-92, who said the station had received a letter from the Ministry of Transport and Communication saying the radio was operating illegally and had to close.

Unlike Serbia's state media, Radio B-92 has reported in detail on massive street demonstrations which have shaken Belgrade and other Serbian cities over the past three weeks.
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