Serb opposition to protest in Milosevic's town

BELGRADE, May 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbia's opposition said on Thursday it would hold a protest rally in the home town of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic later this month.

The protest will be against what the opposition said was the brutal beatings of activists of the Otpor (Resistance) movement by associates of Milosevic's son Marko, in a cafe in the eastern Serbian town Pozarevac this week.

"We will hold the rally in Pozarevac to show that the opposition will not allow the beating up of young men and women from Otpor," said Goran Svilanovic, leader of the opposition Civic Alliance.

"We want to show there are no forbidden towns in this country, nor prohibited places," he said.

Police arrested three Otpor supporters on charges of attempted murder immediately after the incident.

On Thursday, Nikola Sainovic, a top official of Milosevic's Socialist Party, accused Otpor of instigating the violence.

"We will not tolerate provocations, violence and introduction of well-known fascist methods in the political life of our country and we will use all legal means to safeguard ourselves, our people and our dignity," Sainovic said.

The Yugoslav Left, led by Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic, a member of the ruling coalition together with Socialists and the Radicals, described the Otpor activists as "Hitler Youth" and said one of its members had been beaten by them.

Opposition-controlled Studio B television was fined 450,000 dinars ($10,000 at the black market rate) on Wednesday for "falsely reporting on the incident", but said it would not pay.

The Serbian government has in recent months imposed heavy fines on media outside its control. Those who do not pay risk closure.

Serbia's opposition closed ranks in January and last month organized a rally in Belgrade of over 100,000 people, to demand early elections.

The Pozarevac rally will be held under the same slogan as the one in Belgrade: "Stop terror - for a free and democratic poll."

"This will be one in a series of rallies the opposition will organize in May and June across Serbia," Svilanovic said.

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