‘Egg Revolution’ Turns More Violent, Protesters Criticize U.S.
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ On the streets of Belgrade, it’s been called the Egg Revolution. Earlier this week, tens of thousands of demonstrators who want to oust the Serbian president pelted the offices of his Socialist Party and the state-run media with eggs and tomatoes.
On Wednesday, the ninth consecutive day of protests against Slobodan Milosevic, the president’s opponents dropped their eggs and picked up rocks and bricks, smashing the windows and glass exteriors of Serbian TV and the Politika newspaper.
State TV called the attack ``vandalism in the name of democracy.″
The protests came in response to the president’s annulment of Nov. 17 local elections won by the opposition. He held a new vote on Wednesday, and preliminary results released by the government showed Milosevic’s party winning in Belgrade.
Demonstrators also vented their anger at the United States and other Western powers, accusing them of dealing with the devil by supporting Milosevic in exchange for his help in securing the peace in Bosnia.
In Belgrade’s packed Terazije Square, 100,000 demonstrators holding flags and flaming torches jeered each time speakers mentioned Milosevic’s name. They burned a U.S. flag and carried banners proclaiming ``U.S. Serves Communists″ as they marched past the U.S. Embassy.
Milosevic, a former Communist, held back, apparently expecting the demonstrations to fizzle as they have before. The biggest demonstrations occurred this week, with more than 100,000 protesters Monday, 80,000 on Tuesday and 100,000 on Wednesday.
About 30,000 students were on the streets again today after opposition leader Vuk Draskovic called on Belgrade residents to turn out for a 10th day of protests.
He said opposition parties would try to prevent a repeat of Wednesday’s rock-throwing rampage. Draskovic’s comments on independent B-92 radio were interrupted, apparently by jamming and the small radio station went off the air every time its reporters called in from the scene of demonstrations.
Milosevic’s regime also reportedly was pressuring the largest-selling independent daily, Blic, to stop reporting on the demonstrations.
The paper’s deputy editor, Cvijetin Milovojevic, resigned in protest. On Wednesday, the paper’s print run was limited by a state-run printer.
New elections went ahead Wednesday in 25 municipalities, including Belgrade. But turnout appeared low in the Serbian capital, apparently because of a boycott call by the opposition and cold, snowy weather.
Late Wednesday, state TV reported that preliminary results gave Milosevic’s party 35 new seats in Belgrade. Added to the 20 they already had won, that gave them a majority in the 110-seat city assembly.
Milosevic’s inaction only seemed to embolden the protesters.
``Bloody Communists! This has to be the end of you, or you won’t have any people to rule!″ declared Goran Jasnic, an unemployed technician who threw a rock through a first-floor window of Serb TV in central Belgrade.
At the demonstrations, each mention of Milosevic triggered prolonged whistles of derision and cries of ``Go, Slobo, Go,″ and ``Slobo Saddam.″
Police halted a group of students who tried to march toward Milosevic’s home in an exclusive region of drab Belgrade. A clash was avoided when the students backed off.
Draskovic, the opposition leader, said he wanted European countries and the United States to understand that Milosevic ``is a warmaker, not a peacemaker.″
``He is guilty of the death of thousands of people. He is guilty of ethnic cleansing. He is guilty of a million refugees,″ Draskovic said.
Milosevic bankrolled Serb rebellions in Bosnia and Croatia, but now the United States depends on him to keep far-right Bosnian Serbs from rejecting the Dayton peace accord that ended more than three years of war.
The State Department sharply criticized Milosevic on Monday, and again Wednesday. Spokesman Nicholas Burns said moves by Milosevic’s government on the elections were ``completely unacceptable.″
Opposition leaders have called for a peaceful change of power in Serbia, and are holding out the 1989 ``Velvet Revolution″ of Czechoslovaks against communism as their model.
``If only we can stand as long as the Czechs did,″ said Misko Pejanovic, a security officer for the opposition coalition Zajedno, or Together. ``But our mentality is different. I believe this time everything will go out of control in the next few days.″
Jasna Sternic, an activist of the Democratic Party, one of the coalition members, said another Eastern European revolution might be the closer model _ the bloody overthrow and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu in neighboring Romania.
``They will give up power only like the Ceausescus,″ Sternic said. ``Everybody hates him and wants him out, but he doesn’t care.″