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Serbia: Students Defy Authorities In Belgrade

Belgrade, 2 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of students defied police warnings and a snowstorm today by continuing their daily demonstration in the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Correspondents said more than 10,000 students led by girls carrying flowers had gathered in the center of the city by the afternoon. The demonstration was expected to grow towards evening, as in past days.

Yesterday, the Interior Ministry issued a warning saying demonstration organizers would have to give notice before any new rallies. Police said they would no longer allow unauthorized protests.

Demonstrators, who have marched daily through Belgrade for more than two weeks, are protesting the government's cancellation of municipal elections in which the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition had claimed victory.

International Peace Coordinator Carl Bildt today called on the Serbian government to rapidly adopt "radical political and economic reform" to "pave the way for a democratic society and a free economy." He warned that failure to do so would lead to a crisis which would "grow worse and worse."