Protesters Say They Can Hold Out 'One Day Longer' Than Serb Leader
Dec. 08, 1996
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Bundled in a thick woolen scarf, a cheap down jacket and ski cap against near-freezing temperatures, Vesna Trajkovic said Sunday she could endure protests for justice ``as long as it takes.''
How long is that?
``One day longer than he can,'' she said with a grin, referring to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
She is not alone. More than 100,000 people have joined protests that have become a nightly ritual in the Serbian capital since courts controlled by Milosevic annulled opposition victories in Nov. 17 local elections.
State-run media have played down the demonstrators as a small band of trouble-makers.
There were a few instances of stone-throwing, but for the most part the crowds have been peaceful _ blowing whistles, shaking rattles, tossing balloons and firecrackers.
``I simply can't give up coming to the rallies,'' said Trajkovic, 31 and unemployed. ``I'm fed up with Milosevic and what he made this country look like.''
Milosevic once had extraordinary grass-root support in Serbia.
As Communists were being thrown from power across the region in 1989, Milosevic transformed himself into a nationalist and vowed to stick up for Serbs.
He then instigated wars in Croatia and Bosnia, which left more than 200,000 people dead or missing. His country suffered 3 1/2 years of economic sanctions as a result. He also has shown little interest in privatizing the state-run economy, instead relying on the tenets of his Communist past.
Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said it was no longer a question of the opposition winning back its election gains.
``This is an uprising to win democracy,'' he said. ``It's no longer important whether he would revoke the decisions which robbed us of our victory.''
Students, the middle class, intellectuals and blue-collar workers all are disgruntled.
``Dissatisfaction is enormous,'' added Dusan Radojcic, a 25-year-old student. ``This is obviously dictatorship, and he is so callous that he doesn't even mind being called dictator.''