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December 1, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 269
Stojan Cerovic's Diary

The Last Tyrannosaurus

This won't do. It will either be acknowledged that the opposition has won what it has won, or Milosevic is no longer a president of anything, but rather a notorious tyrant and usurper. I wasn't the slightest bit pleased either, but rather angry and desolate that he kept winning until now, yet I have consented to deem him as president. I knew a number of excellent reasons why he never should have been elected, which obviously a number of people in Serbia know as well now, a number large enough to secure an opposition victory, be it only on the local level in the largest cities.

At the same time the electoral legitimacy of the opposition representatives is not the same, but rather a hundred times stronger, worthier and more convincing than Milosevic or any of his men ever were. Those who have opted for the coalition Zajedno this time have accomplished a feat which would have to confuse all media theoreticians as well as image, propaganda and political marketing experts. Their research, analysis and theories are based on the tiny differences in the efficiency of the messages, on nuances in appearance, demeanor and manner of speaking in front of the cameras, but who would have thought to compare the election chances of those who are in front of the cameras at all times and those who have never been?

Opposition voters had to battle their way through the unprecedented television terror which is something that the minister of information, Aleksandar Tijanic, will have to live with. (Although an ingenious man, I wouldn't be surprised if he does not prove one day that he was the one who has consciously brought about the opposition victory by way of a grotesque over the top propaganda.) Therefore, the first step was to find out that the coalition Zajedno exists at all; and then for weeks, despite television, keep the crazy notion in mind that it isn't a group of trouble-makers, traitors and conspirators; then one had to believe that those marginal players stood a chance; after which the unfortunate voter also had to resist the sweet call of the peacemakers, international success, joy, beauty and universal continuity. Finally, the opposition voter had reason to worry whether his municipality and city shall be punished in case the SPS-JUL-ND combination does not win, since they also knew how to instill such threats quite forcefully. Those who have managed to, despite all of this, throw in a ballot for the opposition, still had to live through occasionally unsure counting and additions, since here and there ballots of the phantom supporters of the local left forces appeared. Besides that, in order to achieve the opposition victory in certain places, they were obliged to come to terms with the election committees, some of whose mandates hastily expired, in midst of the counting, and then wait for the court decisions, and, finally, see how much opposition the tyrant can stand at this moment.

It is now absolutely clear what the regime propagandists really had in mind when, prior to the elections, they said that the opposition brings risks, uncertainties and instability. What they wanted to say was that they would not hand power over to the opposition anyway under any condition, which is why it would be better for the people to vote for the regime and to keep things as they were until now, otherwise the regime shall be forced to employ other means. What they wanted to say was that it would be smarter for the people to love them, since they have to put up with them anyway. Those other means being theft, annulment of the elections and, naturally, bare, brutal violence. They are threatening to, in case no other means exist, take up arms and start annulling the people, one by one. Somehow, this just won't do.

The former president and present tyrant did manage to put pressure on and scare most of the members of the election committees as well as the judges who passed verdicts on the issues of theft and annulment of the opposition victory. He also managed to, just like every single time until now, hide and shove someone else in front with the task of explaining this screaming injustice to the people. This time that task fell upon Dragan Tomic, the former speaker of the parliament of Serbia, the current offender and executor of lawlessness and tyranny, who did not dare tell Milosevic: "Why don't you come forward and explain to the people why we have cheated them and stolen off them."

There is no doubt that, until they understand what is going on, the former president can still count on the loyalty of his personnel. However, which one of them will be able and will dare to follow him on the road towards suspending elementary legality and the minimal rules of the game which the very regime had agreed upon? After eggs, who shall dare retaliate with tanks? Naturally, that would prove to be a lot easier if a better motive was found and if the tens of thousands of people who are demonstrating every day throughout the cities of Serbia could be pushed into violence. Yet a single obviously unfortunate statement of Danica Draskovic is not enough.

Slobodan Milosevic has definitely always been a tyrant, yet since conditions for the survival of such a breed in Europe are highly unfavourable, he has, on one side, been tearing Serbia out of Europe and at the same time has tried to somehow secure electoral legitimacy for himself and to hide his true nature in front of the world. This is the first time he has failed in such an attempt, and that only on the local level, after which he immediately showed his readiness to abolish and annul all that is needed. The people shall either vote for him, or there shall be no more elections, and besides, such people are of no interest to him anymore.

If no proof existed and if we did not know all that we know about him, what he is doing now would suffice as explanation for all his previous deeds and would be reason enough to write out an indictment for the war and all the misery of the Serb and non-Serb nations. His tyrannical government exclusively used and acknowledged force. While he was stronger, he waged war, beat others, when it looked as though he could be on the receiving end, he recognized and signed all that was needed. That national leader was not in the least perturbed that, thanks to him, Serbs were expelled from Croatia, yet he became agitated when he realized that some other Serbs could take over power in the cities of Serbia.

The opposition reacted in the best possible way, refusing to take part in the repeated elections and organizing protests which kept increasing in numbers. Milosevic's headquarters have definitely sent interpretations all over the world by which the very foundations of Dayton have been attacked in Belgrade and Nis and that the stability of the entire region, based on him personally, was threatened. It seems as though this didn't go down well. The West hesitated for a moment, yet I would say that by now everyone has realized that Nis does not have many connections nor similarities with the Dayton agreement.

No one from the opposition has debated nor mentioned the Dayton agreement, while the processes in Bosnia hardly depend on Belgrade now. It would actually be a lot more favorable even for the relations amongst the peoples in Bosnia if Milosevic was to be removed, just like, with God's will, Tudjman shall possibly be removed from the scene as well. Their signatures from Dayton can not be disputed by anyone anymore, while no one has to especially thank them nor give them artificial respiration for what they had accomplished prior to that.

Therefore, I believe that Milosevic is receiving equally unpleasant news from both outside and inside. This is no longer March 9 but something that is a lot more dangerous for him. The opposition is now backed by the undisputed will of the nation which is restraining from violence, while he is the one who is demolishing constitutional order. His chances of efficiently employing violence are lessening with each hour. What he has definitely wanted to avoid - surrender of power in the cities - is by now probably the least that he has to do. That proves to be a lot more difficult and painful now compared to a week before, and if he prolongs things further, he could be late for the most important plane in his life.

In case panic does not overwhelm him, he could possibly still collect himself, and start offering deals and agreements of the Nis for Palilula type to the opposition. The opposition should not enter into such deals with him, yet there is a possibility that the tyrant could somehow manage to calm things down, find a way out and survive by wearing a presidential mask. If that happens, all should store a memory of this moment carefully when his true nature was clearly evident. Whatever else he manages to accomplish and however long he remains where he is now, we shall know that we have nothing to do with it, and we shall also know what his opinion of us and our will is, at moments when he shall speak of peace, prosperity and a better life. And when, at the end of it all, he says "Cheers", we shall all know that he is thinking "and may you rot in hell".

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