Organisers of the weekly “1 of the 5 million” protests in Serbia announced a commemoration walk on the anniversary of the murder of Serbia’s former liberal prime minister Zoran Djindjic on Tuesday – while some of the former PM’s close associates said the people protesting today were defending Djindjic’s ideas.
Djindjic was one of the founders of the centrist and pro-Western Democratic Party, which spearheaded a revolt against the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000.
He became prime minister in 2001 and played a pivotal role in the arrest and extradition of Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to face war crimes charges. He was assassinated on March 12, 2003 in Belgrade.
Jailed for killing PM
Milorad Ulemek, alias ‘Legija’, the former commander of the interior ministry’s Special Operations Unit, was found guilty of organising the group that conspired to kill Djindjic.
Zvezdan Jovanovic, who was in active service in the unit at the time of the assassination, was found guilty of firing the shots that killed him.
Both men are currently serving 40-year prison sentences.
Members of the ministry’s Special Operations Unit were found to have conspired to commit the murder with the help of the Zemun Clan, an organised crime gang, but the political background to the case has remained unclear.
Zoran Zivkovic, who was Djindjic’s successor as prime minister and is now head of the opposition New Party, told BIRN that the current protest movement was right to remember Djindjic.
“For 14 weeks people have been protesting in Belgrade and other cities against the regime [of the ruling Progressive Party] and for a normal Serbia as part of the EU and for the hope for better Serbia. It is right for them to mark the anniversary of Djindjic’s murder,” he said.
Zivkovic added that he and his party colleagues would be joining the commemorative walk on Tuesday because it was part of “a fight for the 2000s ideas of Zoran Djindjic”.
The organisers of the “1 of 5 million” events on Monday said that the memorial walk for Djindjic would take place under the slogan: “If we do not succeed today, the only reason is we ourselves” – which is one of Djindjic’s own quotes.
“On March 12, we will remember everything we lost and everything we could have in a normal democratic society,” the organisers said, calling on people to leave their usual protest whistles at home and bring a flower or a candle instead.
The event will start on Students’ Square in the centre of Belgrade at 6pm, where all the protests since the first on December 8 have started every Saturday. The event will end in front of the government building.
One of Djindjic’s close associates, the sociologist Vesna Pesic, agreed with Zivkovic that it is a good idea for people who are protesting against the government now to commemorate Djindjic.
“I don’t see any questions there,” Pesic told BIRN.
The parties informally behind the protests, gathered in the Alliance for Serbia – including the Democratic Party – have called on people to attend the event.
However, the Liberal Democratic Party, LDP, which was one of the organisers of Djindjic commemorations in previous years, has stuck to its old tradition.
It has called people to start the walk from the party’s own HQ at 11am. The LDP is one of the few opposition parties that do not support the “1 of 5 million” protests.
This is mainly because the LDP condemns the involvement of pro-Russian and far-right parties in the demonstrations.