December 6, 1996
An update on the protests in Serbia and the resignation of its information minister. Gaby Rado of Independent Television News reports from the town of Novi Sad.
GABY RADO, ITN: The students of Novi Sad were unaware of the resignation of the Serbian information minister when they began their daily protests from their campus where there was, anyway, a buoyant feeling among them that the political balance was going the way of the demonstrations right across Serbia. Here, the street action has continued, despite the fact that Novi Sad is firmly under control of opposition parties. So overwhelming was their victory last month that the ruling Socialist Party didn't even bother to contest it in the courts.
FEMALE STUDENT ON STREET: The opposition won the elections on lockout elections, but we want to give support for our colleagues in Belgrade.
GABY RADO: What difference would it make that the opposition won the elections in Novi Sad?
FEMALE STUDENT ON STREET: We still don't know, but the Communists will go.
MALE STUDENT ON STREET: It's a peaceful student demonstration, and we just want to recognize the results from the election, for second term of election, for 17th of November, and also we have Slobodan Milosevic, who did stealing our vote now to resign.
GABY RADO: It was clear the students had some support, at least, among ordinary townspeople. The good-natured atmosphere has been maintained everywhere since the start of the demonstrations. The marchers jeered outside the headquarters of a daily regional newspaper viewed by the opposition as a government mouthpiece. Later, they cheered the town's small independent paper. State-run media have become the object of the protesters' fury because of the way they've ignored or downplayed what was happening on the streets. Last night's return to the airwaves of the Belgrade radio station, B-92, was seen as a significant concession by the government, which banned it two days previously. During his resignation news conference in Belgrade, the Serbian information minister Alexander Tianic, a former newspaper man, said he was going because his liberal concept of Serbian journalism clashed with the actual situation. In Novi Sad, the highest-ranking member of the ruling Serbian Socialist Party, Vice President Bosco Perosevic, claimed the opposition was giving the country a bad name.
BOSCO PEROSEVIC, Vice President, Socialist Party: What's happening right now is against the interests of our state. In this period following the removal of sanctions imposed against us we've been working hard to regain our position in the world within international institutions. What's going on now is a direct attack against this concept and is also giving a bad image to Serbia.
GABY RADO: Novi Sad was a Southern outpost for the Austro-Hungarian empire, only becoming part of Serbia after the First World War. It has a minority Hungarian population. The opposition has been successful because a mixed community has rejected the Serbian nationalism of Slobodan Milosevic.