Anti-terrorism law unveiled, sparks fear
A details of the draft of the much anticipated - and equally feared - federal anti-terrorism law was released this week, prompting opposition critics to claim the measure would "plunge the country into darkness and fear."
Already, Montenegro's President, Milo Đukanović, and Minister of Justice have said the measure will not be applicable in Montenegro.
The draft, which the Yugoslav parliament was slated to consider at press time, provides for jail terms of five years for "acts that threaten the constitutional order," allows suspects to be held without charges for up to 30 days (compared with the present three day limit), makes terrorism trials closed to the public and allows for 30 day incarceration of "uncooperative witnesses."
According to the state-run Tanjug news agency, the measure will also provide for "certain limitations in the work of the lawyers."
In addition to kidnapping and arson, the law proscribes a broad category of acts defined only as "generally dangerous activities ... that create a feeling of insecurity and fear among citizens."
Leading opposition figures said the measure was clearly targeting their groups as well as the independence minded Republic of Montenegro.
"Repression will become systematic from now on," said Civic Alliance leader Goran Svilanović
"With this law, the regime is preparing terrain for future, possibly widespread, unrest."
The Serbian Renewal Movement's (SPO) Milan Bozić said the proposed law is politically motivated in targeting the opposition and would bring the regime one step closer to "becoming a real dictatorship."
Meanwhile, Civic Alliance spokesman Gašo Knežević said the legislation would export instability to Montenegro by authorising federal prosecutors to conduct investigations in Montenegro using federal police, adding that the law would also be used to stage high-profile show trials to intimidate the opposition into self-censorship.
Some Serbian media outlets speculated that the measure could push Montenegro into a referendum on independence late this summer in advance of possible federal elections.
Anti-Otpor campaign widening
In a week that saw at least 22 Otpor members arrested throughout Serbia, Belgrade authorities stepped up their rhetorical campaign against the student-run opposition movement in a move local observers said were aimed to undercut the group's membership in advance of possible federal elections.
Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs Vlajko Stojiljković, who is also a member of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) leadership, said the state was "ready and able to uproot terrorism" through a proposed anti-terrorist act. Speaking at a local party meeting in Veliko Gradiste, Stojiljković called Otpor a "terrorist and fascist organization," adding that it was also a branch office of "Western intelligence agencies."
In an analysis piece for the regime-run daily Politika, Serbian "security lawyer" Dragoljub Tatomirović claimed to have evidence that a large number of Yugoslav and Serbian NGOs were working as "special services" for American and other foreign intelligence agencies.
Tatomirović singled out Otpor as one such organization, but also named the Yugoslav Helsinki Committee, the Humanitarian Law Centre and the Open Society Foundation as fronts for Western intelligence agencies.
The article characterized the Helsinki Committee as being opposed to the very existence of Serbia and said the Humanitarian Law Centre uses "classical police methods" in collecting intelligence for the west.
Tatomirović proposed that all such organizations should be placed under the "permanent control of the State Security Service," prompting fears of local opposition figures of an "active measures" campaign to take control of NGOs, similar to the recent state shut-down of the opposition Studio B radio and television facilities.
Opposition leaders lack voter appeal
According to a survey by the Belgrade daily Blic, Serbia's most outspoken opposition leaders have little credibility among voters.
Voters without political affiliations say that, with the exception of outspoken former National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramović, they have no confidence in opposition leaders. Of these, 69 percent say they would not vote for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević.
SPO leader Vuk Drašković and Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Šešelj enjoy even lower support, showing disdain for political leaders on both sides of the political spectrum.
Among voters who say they support the opposition, 81 percent say they would vote for Avramović, while only 53 percent would cast their ballots for Alliance for Change leaders Zoran Đinđić and Vladan Batić.
Opposition leaders sue regime press
Alliance for Change leaders Zoran Đindić and Vladan Batić filed a lawsuit this week against Tanjug news agency Editor-in-Chief Dušan Đorđević and H Dragan Antić, editor in chief of the regime-run daily Politika, claiming they had breeched the Public Information Act.
The allegations refer to a 25 June Tanjug report carried in Politika alleging that SPO leader Vuk Drašković and the Alliance for Change's Đinđić and Batić had ordered the recent assassination of Socialist Party of Serbia (SDS) official Bosko Perošević and then fallen out as a result of disagreements over how the hit should be carried out.
The allegations, denounced by the Alliance for Change as "expert slander," also held that Đinđić and Batić had first obtained US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's approval of the plan, which Politika also claimed involved "the NATO youth movement known as Otpor."
VJ delegation in Moscow
A delegation from the Yugoslav Army (VJ) headed by Col Gen Spasoje Smiljanić was slated to arrive in Moscow this week for a five-day visit to discuss technical cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Defence.
The agenda was also said to include a visit to air force and anti-aircraft units in the Moscow region, where the two sides were reported to be planning talks on countermeasures targeting American stealth aircraft technology.
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