BBC
Serbia braced for more protests

Friday, 19 May, 2000


Further protests are planned in Serbia after anti-government demonstrations turned into running battles between police and protesters.
Several hundred members of the student group Otpor, or Resistance, handed out leaflets in central Belgrade on Friday, protesting against President Slobodan Milosevic's media crackdown.
About 30 uniformed and plainclothed police checked their identity documents as they gathered in a Central Belgrade square.
The curent wave of protests began after the forced closure of opposition television and radio broadcasters earlier this week.
Six Otpor members were detained overnight, adding to the hundreds arrested in the past several days.
And one of the group's most high profile activists, Ivan Marovic, was arrested and briefly detained on Friday.

'Brutal'
On Thursday, riot police fired tear gas and charged at more than 10,000 Belgrade protesters.
The demonstrators had massed in front of the opposition-run city hall to protest against the closure Studio B television.
The total number of people injured this week is now more than 150, with at least 30 seriously.
Opposition leader Goran Svilanovic said: "The police intervention was extremely brutal. They are trying to frighten the citizens into stopping the protests."
In the southern city of Nis, also controlled by the opposition, several hundred protesters attacked 14 deputies from the ruling Socialist Party as they were left a meeting, pelting them with sticks.
Two of the deputies needed hospital treatment, while the others were bruised.
A rally is planned on Friday evening in Nis.
A BBC correspondent in Belgrade says some analysts believe a split is developing within the ruling parties.
Mr Milosevic and the Socialist Party is said to favour a calming of the situation while the other parties are understood to want the crackdown to intensify.

Appeal to EU
Independent Serbian journalists have appealed to the European Union for urgent assistance to survive the current crackdown.
At a meeting in Brussels, journalists told EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten and foreign policy chief Javier Solana that it was "now or never".
"Without urgent material help we won't be able to survive," said Gordan Susa, head of the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia.
Dragan Kojadinovic, chief editor of Studio B, urged the EU to provide funds so that his journalists could start broadcasting from other locations.
Mr Patten told the meeting: "Milosevic's crackdown is a sign of weakness, not of strength.
"It shows the potential power of free speech as a force for change in Serbia."
As well as Studio B, 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.



Original article