All the important news
since 10 April 2000
It has been one year since the unsolved murder of Slavko Ćuruvija, the owner of the Dnevni Telegraf (Daily Telegraph) and the periodical Evropljanin (European). On April 11, several hundred people gathered at the Belgrade Media Center to mark the anniversary of this unsolved murder and to commemorate Ćuruvija. Slavko Ćuruvija was gunned down outside of his apartment in Belgrade during the third week of NATO's air campaign against the Yugoslavia. Five days earlier, a pro-government daily accused him of treason and welcoming NATO bombs. Ćuruvija's collegues and friends claim that this was a call to lynch him, and opposition leaders said that the murder aimed to spark fear in all the opponents of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević's regime. "In a country where the regime's only goal is to stay in power, the victims are guilty, and punishment is just and silence is the best response," Aleksandar Tijanić, a prominent columnist, stated during the ceremony. After the commemoration, Ćuruvija's friends, colleagues and others blocked the street in the center of Belgrade, in order to witness the unveiling of a plaque where the murder occurred. It says, "Ćuruvija died for his sharp and critical words."
Minister of Justice Dragoljub Janković stated that he is not familiar with the developments of this case, and he added that in order for the investigation to take place, they need to have suspects, and until a suspect is implicated, judicial organs are not able to act." (Blic 11 April). Political parties, as well as the International Federation of Journalists, appealed to Milošević to call for an urgent investigation into this murder.
The Serbian Parliament passed a law on Tuesday covering the election of federal deputies. According to the authorities, this move is to bring electoral procedures in line with constitutional law, while opponents see it as creating the possibility for Milošević to exclude all of his political foes in Parliament who are able to impeach him. "This law will ensure the election of a suitable delegation, which will prevent any vote of no confidence in the supreme commander, Milošević," stated Marijan Ristižević of the opposition Vojvodina Coalition. Other opposition parties say that this law, in essence, gives the ruling party control over who gets sent from where to the Federal Parliament.
Željko Simić, the Minister of Culture in the Serbian government and director of the National Theater, sued Vreme, first, privately and, afterwards, according to the "information law." According to the civil charges, Simić has sued for YUD 100,000 (aproximately DEM 5000). The civil trial is scheduled for 18 May 2000. Vreme Editor-in-Chief Dragoljub Žarković and Editor Filip Švarm said in a joint statement, "When a powerful person like that sues one according to that [information] law, there is no presumption of innocence; one is convicted in advance" (Glas, 13 April).
The trial date for independent newspaper Danas has been postponed until 10 May. Editor-in-chief Veseljko Koprivica did not appear in court on the previously appointed date, as the date on his summons was not correct. Danas was sued by the state-run news agency Tanjug and its Director, Dušan Đorđević, because the paper allegedly "abused public information." The charges were pressed because of an article published in Danas in which it was stated that Tanjug was not bombed by NATO, because it provided free service to foreigners and its director was, in return, granted free travel through EU countries. Tanjug has requested YUD one million (DEM 50,000), while Đorđević has asked for YUD 500,000 (DEM 25,000) (Glas, 13 April).
After almost three months of negotiations, the first meeting of the united opposition was held on 14 April, on the Square of the Republic in Belgrade. As was expected, the opposition leaders of the united coalition, as well as representatives from Kosmet, student movement Otpor and the Independent Journalists' Association, addressed the participants. However, Bishop Artemie could not open the meeting, as had been planned, due to another engagement. The speakers took the stand in alphabetical order. According to the French press, there were more than 70,000 people attending, and Reuters and Fonet estimated more than 100,000 people attended, while the Beta news agency claimed the number was even higher, at about 200,000 people. However, state-run media reported that only about 2000 "NATO supporters" gathered. Ten busloads of people coming from Kragujevac and Pirot to attend the demonstration were stopped before reaching Belgrade, but, after several hours, they were allowed to enter the capital. The meeting lasted about three hours and no incidents were reported.
Some Otpor activists and other opposition members from Novi Sad walked the 80 kilometers to Belgrade, under the slogan: "We are making the road."
The Union of Movie Distributors and 10,000 families of cinema workers requested that the government and TV Politika officials protect the law on intellectual property. TV Politika announced that, on Friday 14 April, it will broadcast a 12-hour marathon of hit movies. With no action being taken to protect copyright, TV Politika broadcast movies, such as American Beauty, The World is Not Enough, Instinct, You've Got Mail, and Eyes Wide Shut. Following the illegal broadcast of the movie Matrix two weeks ago and this movie marathon, distributors are considering closing down all cinemas in the country, in order to protest. This move by TV Politika was also seen as an attempt to compel people to stay at home and watch the movies - instead going to the opposition meeting that was scheduled for the same day.
Vana Suša, 14 April 2000