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Serbia: Teacher Strike Closes 600 Schools

Belgrade, 30 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Teachers in hundreds of schools in Serbia went on strike today, joining the republic-wide protests against the rule of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

More than 600 schools were closed as elementary and high school teachers called on the government to pay long overdue wages, increase salaries and give guarantees they will be regularly paid in future.

The opposition Zajedno alliance and students have been protesting daily to demand that Milosevic heed international appeals and fully restore opposition wins in municipal elections last November.

Milosevic has told a Russian envoy he wants to establish a constructive dialogue to resolve the country's problems. But the opposition insists dialogue can come only after its election victories are finally recognized.

About 15,000 students demanding democracy marched through Belgrade's streets again today without hindrance from riot police.

Meanwhile, the Belgrade Chamber of Attorneys said today it will stage daily protest marches over what it called the "disastrous state" of the Yugoslav federal judiciary and "enormous abuses of political power in influencing court decisions."

Socialist hardliners have used politically subservient courts to invalidate opposition election victories in some towns and to obstruct the handover of others to the opposition.