Serb protests to continue

Thursday, 18 May, 2000

One of the leaders of the Serbian opposition alliance, Zoran Djindjic, has said resistance to the government's takeover of opposition television and radio stations will be stepped up.
He said the Alliance for Change would call daily protests from Thursday in the capital, Belgrade, and other major towns as part of a wave of civil disobedience against President Slobodan Milosevic.
Mr Djindjic was speaking after some 30,000 people marched in Belgrade to protest against the closure of Studio B television station.
The crackdown on the independent media has sparked international condemnation.
"Only a state which is terrified of the truth resorts to sending men in masks into television and radio studios," said European Union external affairs commissioner Chris Patten.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is to urge Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, to use its influence to try and rectify the situation.
Six people are reported to have been injured when clashes broke out between riot police and stone-throwing protesters.
An opposition radio station, Radio Pancevo, had one of its transmitters cut while broadcasting the rally.
The call to protest came within hours of Wednesday's dawn raid on Studio B in Belgrade.
Police also seized control of three other independent media outlets housed in the same building - radio broadcaster B2-92, Index Radio and the privately-owned daily paper, Blic.

Red Star support
Crowds gathered in the capital's main Republic Square to listen to a live open-air news broadcast prepared by the journalists of the closed TV station.
They were later joined by thousands of football fans who marched to the city centre to celebrate the victory of the local Red Star Belgrade team in the Yugoslav championship.
Riot police using batons, tear gas and stun grenades tried to prevent the two groups from meeting up, causing a stand-off that erupted into violence.
Demonstrators shouted: "Save Serbia!" and "Kill yourself, Slobodan!"
By Wednesday night, Belgrade's main shopping area was littered with debris, broken glass and upturned, smouldering rubbish bins.

Opposition protests were also reported in three other Serbian cities.
Some 15,000 people protested against the government in Kragujevac in central Serbia, while several hundred came out onto the streets in Novi Sad, and a few hundred in Mladenovac, south of Belgrade, where Studio B's local bureau was also seized by the authorities.
Studio B began broadcasting government-controlled news later on Wednesday. The associated independent radio channel, B2-92, said it was now concentrating on its internet service.
Wednesday's raid followed increasing harassment of opposition activists.
Members of the radical student movement Otpor were detained by police in several towns after the authorities denounced the group as a "terrorist" organisation.

Original article