Beatings fail to halt Belgrade protesters

Belgrade - Undaunted by police beatings, opponents of the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, took to the streets in protest again yesterday, following clashes on Christmas Eve between pro- and anti-Milosevic crowds.

Five were hospitalised, including one man who remained in a critical condition after being shot in the head during the disturbances by a supporter of Mr Milosevic's ruling Socialist party (SPS).

More than a month of street protests against Mr Milosevic had gone without violence until Tuesday, when the SPS arranged to bus supporters into Belgrade for a rally at the same time and place as the opposition.

Vuk Draskovic, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, said Tuesday's events let the genie of violence out of the bottle and marked "the beginning of civil war in Belgrade".

The harder Mr Milosevic tries to shore up the credibility of his SPS as a party ruling Serbia by popular consent, the more events conspire to prove him wrong.

Another figleaf was peeled away when Mr Milosevic's party rallied only 40,000 supporters in Belgrade under police protection on Tuesday, after boasting it would mobilise half a million.

Snow, bitter temperatures, icy streets and the memory of Tuesday's running battles yesterday did little to dampen the students' enthusiasm, although their numbers were down substantially from the 200,000 who demonstrated on the previous day. In Serbia, Christmas is celebrated on 6 January.

Blowing whistles and horns and chanting anti-Milosevic slogans, protesters snaked through the centre of the city, drawing waves and cheers of support from many onlookers in office and residential blocks along the way.

Washington and Paris warned that they held Mr Milosevic responsible for Belgrade's street violence. The German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, said any more violence would damage Serbia's efforts to reintegrate with Europe. Western governments spent much of the last year praising Mr Milosevic as a responsible world leader for his work in support of the Bosnian peace agreement.

Still firmly in control of all institutions of government, including state television, the army and police, Mr Milosevic shows no sign of surrendering power voluntarily.

Diplomats say Russia would probably block any effort by the UN Security Council to pressure Mr Milosevic by reimposing economic sanctions on Serbia, which were lifted earlier this year in the wake of the Bosnia peace deal.

His ability to use force now has been virtually vetoed by US-led Western threats of reprisals and also by hints of reluctance on the part of the security forces to get too involved.

Monitors listening to police radios during the clashes on Tuesday heard commanders ordering their men to use minimum force, even when they or SPS supporters were taking a beating from opposition activists of the Zajedno (Together) movement.

Like everyone else who works for the Serbian state, the police are paid only when the government can find the cash and therefore have less interest in preserving it. The army, which used tanks to save Mr Milosevic and quell anti-government protests that cost two lives in 1991, has stayed silently on the sidelines in 1996.

The idea that the SPS might ditch Mr Milosevic rests on the theory that the thousands of party members who hold every worthwhile job in the state apparatus and the economy have too much to lose to relinquish power.

Their wealth has been milked from the labour and looted from the bank accounts of ordinary Serbs, as Zajedno never tires of telling its supporters.

Out of power, they would be held accountable for the destruction of former Yugoslavia and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, which have reduced Serbia's people to economic ruin.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?