Clergy join crusade against Milosevic

More than 100,000 Serbs marched through Belgrade yesterday in a religious procession designed partly to sustain the 10-week protest movement against President Slobodan Milosevic. But a court decision appeared to reverse an earlier opposition victory.

Two dozen Orthodox priests led the procession, one of the largest church- sponsored events in Belgrade for 50 years. Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox church, praised demonstrators who have staged peaceful protests in Belgrade and other towns every day since the Socialist (former Communist) authorities annulled opposition victories in local elections in November. "Today, eyes are watching us from the sky and ground and are telling us to endure on the holy and righteous road," he said.

In Belgrade, the city electoral commission which awarded victory to the Zajedno (Together) opposition alliance last week said yesterday its ruling had been quashed by the First Municipal Court.

The commission chairman, Radomir Lazarevic, was enraged by the ruling. "The decision is completely against the law," he told reporters. "Truth and justice are endangered. There is a legal right of the people to start a rebellion."

Opposition rallies have spread to about 50 Serbian towns, but in Belgrade in recent days the number of protesters has fallen from a peak of 100,000 to a hard core of 15,000 to 20,000. Yesterday's march was the largest daytime gathering in the city for more than a month, but it was at least as religious as political in nature, since it officially marked the holiday of St Sava, the 13th-century founder of the Serbian Orthodox church.

Patriarch Pavle has thrown the church's considerable authority as a symbol of the Serbian nation squarely behind the opposition. However, his motives are more complex than the desire for justice and democracy that has fuelled the protest movement.

During the early period of the 1991-95 wars in the former Yugoslavia, he was as much of a Serbian nationalist as Mr Milosevic. The rift that later opened between them owed much to his view that Mr Milosevic had betrayed ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia by standing aside as they lost their lands in a conflict inspired largely by the Serbian president.

Zajedno legislators yesterday took formal control of Nis, Serbia's second-largest city, where the Socialists conceded this month that they had lost the November elections.

Sixteen Socialist deputies boycotted the ceremony in Nis . Zoran Zivkovic, the likely new mayor, said that five decades of Communist and Socialist rule had left the city "totally ruined".

By mixing restraint with mild repression and by making concessions that seem genuine but eventually turn out to be trivial, Slobodan Milosevic appears to be calculating that he can wear out the opposition in a contest that could last months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?