Milosevic's police enter coal mine to break up strike
publiziert: Mittwoch, 4. Okt 2000 / 18:25 Uhr

Lasarewac - Police poured into a major coal mine Wednesday to break up the largest of the nationwide strikes aimed at ousting President Slobodan Milosevic, but authorities backed off when huge crowds heeded the workers' cries for aid.

1 Meldung im Zusammenhang
Thousands of miners and supporters streamed into the Kolubara mine complex after security forces withdrew from their barricades and were mingling with strikers inside the compound.
Meanwhile, caravans of supporters swarmed in vehicles and on foot to the mine from every direction. One bus pushed aside a police car blocking its way, witnesses said.

Police in riot gear watched passively as the crowd swelled.
"Take off your uniforms and join the people," cried Dragan Kovacevic, an opposition leader. "The battle for Serbia was won here."
The startling turnaround was hailed by Milosevic foes as another key victory in their civil disobedience campaign to force him to accept election defeat. At first, however, it looked as if Milosevic was turning to brute force to crush dissent.
Truckloads of police and soldiers swarmed into the mine complex, which employs 7,000 workers, after the government said the five-day strike threatened electricity supplies. There were no clashes or arrests, according to striker Ranko Radasinovic.
He said about 100 policemen had taken over the head office and the main crusher plant at the strip mine near this town about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Belgrade.
Workers called for help as authorities set up cordons at the entrance. But they failed to hold back crowds flocking to the open pit mine in support of the strikers. The see-saw confrontation came one day after the Milosevic government threatened "special measures" against leaders of strikes and road blockades, which were launched this week to force the Yugoslav president to concede defeat to challenger Vojislav Kostunica in the Sept. 24 election.
On Tuesday, Belgrade's prosecutor issued arrest orders for 13 opposition leaders involved in organizing a walkout at the Kolubara mine. None of the arrests have been carried out.

In Belgrade, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic denounced the police action as a "grave abuse of the human and labor rights of workers who are protesting electoral theft."
Milosevic concedes that Kostunica outpolled him in the five-candidate race but fell short of an absolute majority. A run-off is set for Sunday, but the opposition has called for a boycott.
Earlier Wednesday , police arrested several truck drivers blocking roads in Milosevic's hometown Pozarevac, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Belgrade.
The opposition has accused Milosevic of massive fraud in the election and on Wednesday sought to prove the allegations before Yugoslavia's Constitutional Court. The tribunal met in emergency session to hear claims by the 18-party opposition coalition that Milosevic's cronies manipulated election results by using a sophisticated software program.
Opposition leaders said they had obtained a copy of the program and would use it to illustrate how the vote was rigged to favor Milosevic's candidacy. But the court is full of Milosevic loyalists and has rendered a number of controversial verdicts.
Information Minister Goran Matic claimed the opposition "committed electoral fraud" and was now trying to provoke violence by "discrediting and denying the validity of the result." With dozens of road blocks in place for the third day, police attempted to clear roads in some areas but refrained from using force, the independent Beta news agency reported. But near Pozarevac, Milosevic's home town, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Belgrade, tensions grew after police arrested several truckers whose vehicles were blocking a road. Dozens of people subsequently sat down on the pavement, strengthening the blockade. The opposition planned a rally in Belgrade for Thursday billed as a final push to drive Milosevic from power.
There were signs that Milosevic's control over the media, until now the principal propaganda pillar of his regime, was fraying. The main state-run daily in the northern province of Vojvodina declared Wednesday that its editorial policy would switch from following the government line to objectively reporting on events. Its Wednesday edition for the first time carried numerous reports on opposition activities.
In Belgrade, thousands of people joined the protests. Hundreds of stores were closed and city bus drivers and garbage collectors stayed off the job, leaving overflowing trash containers scattered in the streets. The postal service announced a warning strike for later in the day, and by noon, the city core was effectively put off limits to cars and other vehicles by thousands of pedestrians roaming the streets. In an interview published in Moscow's Komersant daily, Kostunica said he believed Milosevic was preparing to use force against the protesters and strikers. "He experiences no moral dilemma or torments of the soul about that," Kostunica said in comments published Wednesday. "However ... it is clear that he does not have enough force at present." The student-run Otpor, or Resistance, opposition movement demanded that Kostunica be declared the electoral winner, that he assume command of the armed forces and start naming ambassadors to Western countries that have recognized his victory.


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