KATARINA KRATOVACPolice raid headquarters of Serbian student group
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (September 4, 2000) - Police raided the headquarters of a Serbian student group Monday known for its opposition to President Slobodan Milosevic. Officers ransacked drawers, confiscated campaign material and barred students from leaving during the raid, one of the group's leaders said.
About a dozen officers barged into the offices of Otpor, or "Resistance," in Serbian, said student leader Vukasin Petrovic, quoting witnesses.
While two police officers blocked the entrance to the Otpor offices, a dozen officers - mostly in plainclothes - raided the site, which is in the capital's main pedestrian area.
About 15 students were inside at the time, said Igor Djapic, an Otpor activist who was present at the raid.
"They demanded our ID cards, ransacked all our drawers and broke into the locked cupboards, confiscating virtually every scrap of campaign material they could find," Djapic said.
Police carried away computers, as well as posters and flags with the group's clenched-fist resistance symbol, Djapic said.
None of the activists were arrested, but no one was allowed to leave during the raid, and Petrovic and others were denied entrance.
Reporters and media who arrived on the scene were told by police to disperse and turn off their cameras.
The opposition Serbian Civic Alliance condemned the raid.
"The regime has nothing else to offer the voters but repression and daily violence," the party's statement said.
The students said the raid would not stop their actions and rallies throughout Serbia.
Otpor students support key opposition parties in Serbia, the larger Yugoslav republic which is also Milosevic's power base. These parties have joined forces in the upcoming general elections, seen as a referendum on Milosevic's rule.
Otpor's slogan "He is Finished" - referring to Milosevic's possible loss in the Sept. 24 ballot - has become the most popular among opposition supporters.
The group's popularity has soared in recent months, and the regime retaliated by detaining thousands of student activists since the beginning of this year.