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D. II.2.h. Serbia 1996-97 and 2000

The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended the bloody wars over the secession of Croatia and the future of Bosnia Hercegovina. In this period western powers saw Milosevic as central to achieving a settlement of the conflicts. From 1996, however, the USA and Western European states began to give increasing support to opposition groups in the form of western diplomatic and economic aid and of external training and advice about the tactics of unarmed resistance. The importance of this is one of the key issues debated about the subsequent overthrow of Milosevic in October 2000.

For a much cited source on the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and of Serbia under Milosevic, see:

For resistance to Serbia’s wars, see:

  • Women in Black, Women for Peace , 1994 , published in English, Spanish and Serbian since 1994.

After the end of fighting a range of groups inside Serbia (including students and intellectuals and extreme nationalists) began to rally against the increasingly corrupt and authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic. There were daily mass demonstrations in the winter 1996-97, especially in the capital Belgrade, over the rigging of town hall elections, and after OSCE intervention Milosevic conceded defeat in 13 cities and nine municipalities of Belgrade. The youth group Otpor was created in 1998 by students who had been active in the 1996-97 protests and played an important role in promoting an almost united opposition to Milosevic in the elections of 2000 and in the resistance to his attempt to rig the results. But the role of miners and other groups from the provinces was crucial in the final days of protest leading to the fall of Milosevic. The most detailed account of his fall, hard to obtain outside Belgrade, is:

  • Bujosevic, Dragan ; Radovanovic, Ivan , OCTOBER 5 - A 24 - Hour Coup Belgrade, Medija Centar Beograd, , 2000, pp. 315 , which is based on interviews with 60 people and includes photos and map of Belgrade.
Ilic, Vladimir, Otpor – In or Beyond Politics, Helsinki Files No. 5, Belgrade, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, 2001

Similar material is contained in: Ilic, Vladimir , Otpor - An Organization in Action , 2002, pp. 54 .

Jovanovich, Milja, Rage Against the Regime: the OTPOR Movement in Serbia, In von Tongeren, Paul ; Brenk, Malin ; Hellema, Marte ; Verhoeven, Juliette , People Building Peace II: Successful Stories of Civil Society Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, , 2005, pp. 545-551

Krnjevic-Miskovic, Damjan, Serbia’s prudent revolution, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 12, issue July, 2001, pp. 96-110

Lazić, Mladen, Protests in Belgrade: Winter of Discontent, Budapest and New York, Central European University Press, 1999, pp. 242

Based on interviews with more than 1,000 participants in the 1996-97 protests.

Lebor, Adam, Milosevic: A Biography, London, Bloomsbury, 2002, pp. 386

Chapter 24 – ‘Toppling Milosevic from Budapest’, pp. 298-312 – covers Otpor demonstrations in 2000, but focuses on role of outside powers in toppling Milosevic and ensuring TV coverage.

Nenadic, Danijela ; Belcevic, Nenad, Serbia – Nonviolent struggle for democracy: The role of Otpor, In Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), London, Pluto Press, pp. 26-35

Former Otpor activists assess its role and criticism made of the group. Accompanied by critical reflections on ‘Serbia eight years after’ by Ivana Franovic (pp. 35-38).

Smiljanic, Zorana, Plan B: Using Secondary Protests to Undermine Repression, St. Paul, MN, New Tactics in Human Rights/Centre for Victims of Torture, 2003, pp. 23

Specifically on Otpor’s demonstrations at police stations to mark the arrest of activists.

Thomas, Robert, Serbia Under Milosevic: Politics in the 1990s, London, Hurst, 1999, pp. 443

See especially pp. 263-318 on formation of united opposition and mass protests from March 1996 to February 1997. Account goes up to 1998.

Thompson, Mark R. ; Kuntz, Phillipp, Stolen elections: The Case of the Serbian October, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 15, issue 4 (October), 2003, pp. 159-172

(see also Thompson, Democratic Revolutions: Asia and Eastern Europe (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 84-97).

Analysis of Milosevic regime and reasons for the October 2000 uprising, plus brief reflections on links between stolen elections and the democratic revolutions in the Philippines 1986, Madagascar 2002 and Georgia 2003. Useful references to other literature.