Ivo Skoric on 22 Sep 2000 03:24:06 -0000

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<nettime> Internet the rising star of Yugoslav elections (AFP)

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Wednesday, September 20 9:47 AM SGT

Internet the rising star of Yugoslav elections

BELGRADE, Sept 20 (AFP) -

Neither the boiling speeches of political foes nor the hundreds of
billboards with slogans of candidates on Sunday's federal general and
presidential elections in Yugoslavia could win the title of the rising star
of the heated campaign.

That title definitely goes to the Internet, for thousands of Yugoslavs the
only place they can find all the necessary election data, where they can
listen to banned radio stations, check voter registers or examine
candidates' programmes and promises.

In 1997, at the time of Serbia's presidential elections, the last held in
this Yugoslav republic, only an estimated 40,000 people -- most of them in
Belgrade -- had access to the web.

Nowadays, there are at least 400,000 Internet users, but experts say that
the number of those with the access to the web could be twice as high.

The first to discover the opportunities of the web were media outlets: as
the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic has increased its pressure on
the independent radio and TV stations and with private and non-state
newspapers facing paper shortages, the Internet has become a vital source
of information.

The independent radio B292, seized by the government three times in its
11-year long history, nowadays can be heard only by those with satellite
dishes or with access to its website at www.freeb92.net.

The radio also provides daily news bulletins in Serbian and English, as
well as interviews, video footage and reports from the country and abroad.

Trying to enable access to sometimes vital information that cannot not be
heard on the state-controlled media, groups of young enthusiasts have set
up their own web pages to compete with the professionals.

At www.xs4all.nl/freeserbia and www.freebgd.net, one can find a daily
digest of press reports, electoral campaign schedules and well-stocked
archives of events leading up to the vote.

Due to many changes in the voters register in the country, which has not
had a registration since 1991, the citizens of Belgrade and several other
towns need to check whether their data is correctly noted.

Since the elections were called in late July, dozens of non-government
organisations have increased their activities in both the real and the
virtual worlds.

The site www.izlaz2000.org groups several organisations campaigning for
"democratic and fair elections," and offers analysis and pre-election
prognosis, as well as listing the "rights and duties of a real voter."

At www.vreme-je.net, an Internet user can find reports of more than twenty
rock concerts held as a part of the campaign "Come out to vote," aimed at
inspiring thousands of young people to take part in the polls.

The student-led opposition movement Otpor (Resistance) at www.otpor.com
offers reports of frequent raids of its premises and of the detention of
its members by the regime, which refuses to register the group as a
political movement, branding it instead a "fascist and terrorist" group of
"pro-NATO mercenaries."

The Center for Free and Democratic elections (CESID) provides rules and
regulations regarding the vote, and has promised the preliminary results of
Sunday's vote at its site, www.cesid.org.yu.

Most of the political parties have discovered the powers of the Internet,
but only the presidential candidate of the opposition Serbian Renewal
Movement of Vuk Draskovic has his own site at www.vojislavmihailovic.org.

All the details of the campaign of Vojislav Kostunica, Milosevic's leading
rival in the presidential polls, are to be found at www.dos.org.yu, the
site belonging to the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), a loose
association of 18 political parties which have backed his candidacy.

The DOS has also launched a site at www.izborise.co.yu, aimed at boosting
turnout at the polls.

Milosevic's Socialist Party offers its political programme and a biography
of the Yugoslav president at www.sps.org.yu, while its ally, the Yugoslav
Left of his wife Mira Markovic at www.jul.org gives basic party details and
an application form.

The official government site at www.gov.yu/izbori should also offer details
about the elections but many of its areas are still "under construction."
Shebar Windstone <shebar@idt.net>
Lavender Links http://www.lavenderlinks.com/
CHMOD http://idt.net/~shebar/
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TibetanIssues.org http://www.tibetanissues.org/

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