Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Peaceful Revolution That Toppled Slobodan Milosevic -- Gotov Je (He's Finished)!

Too good to cut and too rare not to mirror, this account, written by Vladimir Sukalovic, of the events surrounding the fall of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, is precious, relevant, and virtually unknown.

Please enjoy reading this.

Then please study it.

Original documents: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

GOTOV JE (He's Finished)! Part 1

This is a first-hand account of the events leading to the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic as President of Yugoslavia. Vladimir Sukalovic, a research assistant completing a PhD in computer modelling, broke net publishing ground last year when he wrote two despatches for On Line Opinion from Belgrade, at the same time that it was being bombed by the NATO forces.

Now he returns with a street level perspective of the change of government. Future postings will bring the rest of Vladimir's story in his own words.

Sometimes I dream about life in another country. I wake up, have breakfast, go to work, come back home, kiss my wife, have lunch, read papers, go out, go to sleep ... and again, and again, same story, different day. And then I wake up, because this is Yugoslavia, and that means you'll never know what another night or day will bring.


Slobodan Milosevic ruled Yugoslavia for the past 10 years. He came to power by the will of the people and promised he would rule for the people. But he introduced a phony democracy in Yugoslavia, and became a dictator. The results of his pathetic leadership were the breaking-up of the former Yugoslavia, war in Croatia and Bosnia, and last year's NATO aggression that ended with the occupation of Kosovo.

During those years people suffered from a poor economy, almost non-existent health care, corruption at all levels of society and organized crime. Instead of democracy, we had dictatorship, instead of economic progress we had hyperinflation, and instead of peace we had war. We still remember 9 March 1991, when Slobodan Milosevic used the army to break up demonstrations in Belgrade.

In 1996 the democratic opposition formed a coalition called TOGETHER (ZAJEDNO) and won elections at the local level. But acting on the orders of Milosevic, the Supreme Court and election committee proclaimed the elections irregular, and denied victory to the democratic opposition. People all over the country protested, and that protest turned into day-by-day, night-by-night protest walks all over the country.

After three months Slobodan Milosevic gave up and granted victory to the opposition. But he remembered to punish all who challenged his power. University, news agencies, TV stations, and even individuals suffered when the Republic Assembly (in which he always had majority) voted for the new "University law", "Law about informing" and many other laws made to protect his power. The University lost its autonomy and all university deans were appointed by his order. Freedom of speech was denied and those who dared to speak against Milosevic, were fined, jailed and even killed.

In 1999, NATO forces tried to bring an end to Milosevic and his regime. They bombed and killed civilians, destroyed bridges, houses, factories. They even bombed the TV station, hospital and Chinese embassy in Belgrade. War ended with the occupation of Kosovo. But NATO forces failed because their war only strengthened Milosevic in this country.

The loss of Kosovo was the drop that filled the glass, and the democratic opposition raised its voice and demanded that Milosevic should go. But those voices were weak, and Milosevic used every possible means to shut them up. During the war, Slavko Curuvija, owner of the local newspaper, was killed because he knew too much.

Assassins attacked opposition leader Vuk Draskovic two times but failed. What started with targeting small news agencies and local TV and radio stations ended with the closing of major opposition radio station Radio station "B92" and Free Belgrade television "Studio B". Yugoslavia was left blind and mute.

But the people were waiting for the right moment and right leader to lead them to victory. For 10 years, Vuk Draskovic tried to unite opposition and win elections but he failed every time. In 1993. Milan Panic, tried to conspire with the army and police generals, and that cost him his place as Yugoslavia's Prime Minister. Zoran Djindjic was another leader who walked the streets of Belgrade asking Milosevic to step down, only to face special police anti-riot squads. Students formed the "OTPOR" resistance organization, and many of those who joined were put in jail, beaten and harassed by the police. The list of others who tried to bring Milosevic down is long, but all of them failed.

Safe in his house on the Dedinje hill in Belgrade, Milosevic ruled what was left of Serbia. He was convinced that opposition no longer existed, and decided to hold elections for the National Assembly and local level.

The decision to have elections a year before the due day (he had the power to call elections any time he wants), caught the opposition in a state of chaos. Different parties tried to push their leaders into the position of candidate for the President. In the first few weeks it seemed to me that all was lost, since there was no sign that the opposition could unite, let alone choose one man who would win the support of dozens of different parties.

After long days and nights of negotiations the opposition united, apart from Vuk Draskovic's party SPO (the Serbian movement for reconstruction – it's sometimes nonsense to translate names of our parties). SPO pushed their man for the presidential run, and the rest of opposition united as DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia, not Disk Operating System) and chose Vojislav Kostunica as its candidate.

Vojislav Kostunica is a man who in the past 10 years did nothing. He was present on the political scene of Serbia, first as a member of Democratic Party but later he decided to follow his ideas and formed the Democratic Party of Serbia.

By doing so he had a chance to speak his mind, and he did so every time he had a chance. During his days in opposition he never organized any rally, demonstration or walk. He never tried to challenge Milosevic on the "street" in a way many other opposition leaders did. But most of all he never gave any promise he couldn't fulfill, and he never changed his mind once he spoke it. Kostunica was not weak by any means. He waited for the right time to win power in a lawful way, as he always said. His moment came on September 24th 2000.

Presidential campaigning in Yugoslavia was impossible. Milosevic ruled all media, and since freedom of speech was suppressed, Kostunica had to walk around Serbia and introduce himself and his ideas to the people. He traveled many miles, talked for hours, and visited every place in Serbia, including those where he was not welcomed. In doing so, his popularity rose rapidly and in a matter of weeks people started to talk about him as the right man for our new president.

Milosevic tried to stop this trend, and attacked Kostunica on TV and in the papers, calling him and DOS NATO servants, traitors of the state, and many other things. Milosevic's attacks went so far that he ordered his goons to throw rocks, paint and dead cats on Kostunica during one of his public speeches. Every night one could see a mob, going trough the town, tearing down Kostunica billboards and posters, beating people who protested against them.

The student's resistance organization OTPOR, which became people's resistance organization was quick to react, and operation "HE'S FINISHED!" (GOTOV JE!) was born. Using black spray cans, people went trough cities all over Serbia, and inscribed the words HE'S FINISHED! on the houses, streets, city squares, and other places. Billboards can be destroyed, posters can be torn down, but graffiti is almost forever.

In fear of the Milosevic special police and hired gangsters, but with great hope for a victory, people waited for 24 September.

On that day I went to vote, and waited almost half an hour before doing so. It seemed to me that everyone with the right to vote was there, and that gave me great hope that this time we would have a new president,a new government and a normal life. And I was right, as results started to come from all over the country saying only one thing – HE'S FINISHED! Kostunica won by a large majority. Serbia celebrated. Slobodan Milosevic and his men were terrified and in shock.

The first reaction of the now-defeated Milosevic was to organize another theft of the elections, by dissolving the State Election Committee responsible for counting the votes. Representatives of DOS, SPO, and other parties were thrown out of the assembly building. By doing so, Milosevic bought some time, to open "virtual" voting places, most of them in occupied Kosovo, print some extra voting papers and circle his name on them, turning Kostunica's victory into a draw. He asked for a runoff (second round of elections), but DOS went out in public with the true figures of the number of votes.

People went out in the streets of Belgrade almost every day and night, as Kostunica promised that victory was going to be defended. From 24 September to 4 October we walked the streets of Belgrade and held meetings in the city square almost every day. The same thing was happening in cities all over the country, and even in those that had supported Milosevic for a long time.

Our requests to count the votes again and publish the truth about the elections were in vain. On 2 October the State Election Committee, without representatives from opposition parties, issued a statement that there would be a runoff. DOS and Kostunica objected and appealed to the Supreme Court, who overruled their appeal to proclaim the presidential elections nullified because of the number of errors found in the work of the State Election Committee. That was on 4 October. People were angry, revolted, and determined to go to the bitter end. We had cast our votes, we knew who won the election; there was no one who possibly could steal our voices and our victory. We decided the time had come to "push" our new president Vojislav Kostunica into the assembly building.

P.S. I'm sorry for the delay, but Yugoslavia is still in chaos. It's still unclear who is in control of the Army and Police forces, and the prices of food and fuel are going up every day. There is no government on any level, and DOS is in constant talks with left-wing parties. We experience power shortages, and water restrictions on a daily basis, and because the police are divided between those who are for Milosevic (Secret police, anti terrorist teams, etc) and those who are for Kostunica (regular street police, traffic police, etc) crime has reached terrible levels. So, please, start with this and I will write the rest of story in one of two days, if we have power. (13/10/00)

GOTOV JE (He's Finished)! Part 2

This is a first-hand account of the events leading to the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic as President of Yugoslavia. Vladimir Sukalovic, a research assistant completing a PhD in computer modelling, broke net publishing ground last year when he wrote two despatches for On Line Opinion from Belgrade, at the same time that it was being bombed by the NATO forces. Now he returns with a street-level perspective of the change of government.

From September 24 people protested almost every day. On a few occasions there were more than 100,000 people, and once 150,000 people came to the city square to protest against the election theft and the court decision not to count voting papers again. The same kind of protest was held all over the country. The message from all the towns in Yugoslavia was clear: Milosevic is history, Kostunica won, and we want Milosevic to step down and hand the presidency to Kostunica.

But Milosevic had other plans and he was buying time. In the first days after the elections he managed to steal 500,000 votes and thus make his defeat into a draw. If allowed to go to a runoff he would probably win!

DOS, knowing that Kostunica clearly won, announced that the victory of the democratic parties would be defended at all cost. We would try to remain peaceful but, if necessary, force would be used.

Workers went on strike, stores were closed, roads blocked. One of the first to go on strike were miners from the "Kolubara" coal mine, which supplies coal to power plants. Milosevic reacted swiftly and ordered power restrictions.

He also ordered the police to intervene to restore peace and order all over the country. TV and radio stations called DOS and Kostunica "Traitors", "NATO mercenaries" and "Enemies of the state". Even Milosevic himself went on air (for the third or fourth time in his 10 years as president) and pleaded for people to stop this "madness" and "chaos" and go back to work. His pathetic speech showed an old and frightened man, a shadow of the once bold and proud president. HE WAS FINISHED! But he decided to fight to the end.

DOS called a central protest meeting for October 5, which was to be held in front of the National Assembly in Belgrade and would last until the will of the people was officially accepted, with Vojislav Kostunica recognised as our new president.

On October 4, DOS published their plans. There would be three major routes to Belgrade: one from city of Nis, along the highway, another from the city of Cacak via the Ibar motorway, and a third from the province of Vojvodina across the Pancevo bridge. Police warned protesters that roads would be blocked but the people were so determined to reach Belgrade that nothing could stop them. The Mayor of Nis addressed the police and Milosevic, saying "We will come to Belgrade tomorrow, and if you want to stop us, you will have to shoot us one by one, but no road block and no police force will stop us". The Mayor of Cacak went even further, and decided to travel with a bulldozer all the way to Belgrade.

The people of Yugoslavia awoke at sunrise on Thursday, October 5 and headed to Belgrade. Smaller groups from villages joined along the way with bigger groups from towns, and soon it looked like three gigantic sand worms were crawling towards the capital city.

The column from Cacak, looked like this: a Jeep in front to warn the others of police roadblocks or other danger, the bulldozer carrier truck, then a truck loaded with rocks and stones for throwing at the police. After them came a truck full of beer and cola drinks, and the rest of the trucks, buses, and other vehicles transporting people.

Some people said the columns measured more than 30km in length and had more than 40,000 people each. The people from Cacak ran into a police squad that was determined to stop them from reaching their goal. After a brief conversation the yellow bulldozer was put to action. In few minutes the roadblock was cleared, police trucks and cars demolished and the policemen scattered across the countryside, running for their lives under a rain of rocks and empty bottles. Later, I learned that some of them received an order to shoot at will but they chose to retreat rather become murderers.

On that day I awoke early as I had to go to work. It was a sunny day, warm but a little bit windy. The city was quiet, quite the opposite of the usual crowded streets and traffic jams. Stores were closed; public transport reduced, and parts of town were without power.

I went to my office, drank coffee, read the papers, and spent some hours searching the Net for news. About 1:30PM, the director of my company called and told me to close the office and go where we all should go. He was reluctant to speak freely over the phone, as you never know when you are taped.

I decided to go straight to the meeting and see what would happen. In front of the Assembly were some 10,000 to 15,000 people; mainly those who decided to come early to get a better view. Those who came from places near Belgrade and those who travelled by night from all over the country to avoid roadblocks joined them. The crowd was getting bigger and bigger every minute as people came from all over the town.

Then I saw something that I will remember for the rest of my life: the column from Nis came over the highway and entered the Srpskih Vladara Street from the north, and the column from Cacak came in the same street from the south. Srpskih Vladara Street, one of the major streets in Belgrade, was completely filled with people.

As far as I could see were people, people, and nothing but the people. I felt like part of an unstoppable force that would make Milosevic see how wrong he was and send him to history, if not to jail. By 3:00 pm, the whole area in front of the Assembly and nearby streets was filled with people, and even modest reporters guessed that more than 500,000 people gathered there. Never before had Belgrade seen a crowd so huge and so motivated as on October 5.

Milosevic’s servants, the army and police, realized that even in their ranks, Slobists (those who vote for Slobodan Milosevic) were outnumbered by antiSlobists by 3:1 or 4:1. Milosevic was sinking and the rats started to leave the ship. First to disobey his orders were the policemen in small cities who knew they could not act upon Milosevic's orders and avoid retaliation from their neighbours. Even the hard-liners decided that the time had come to ask for forgiveness, or even defect to the other side.

But the Minister of the Interior and the Chief of the Secret Police together with special anti-terrorist forces and part of the army were determined to fight. So a fight was inevitable.

Knowing that the army would use tanks to quell the demonstrations, I walked around the Assembly building and to the nearby State TV station Radio Televizija Srbije (RTS). The RTS building was a symbol of the Milosevic regime, as TV news was one of his most notorious ways to manipulate people.

Milosevic used to send around 1000-2000 fully armed and armored police every time some kind of protest was going on, but this time, they were not there. Another strange thing I saw was three Jeeps without license plates or any marks but with camo paint. I guessed they were PUCH jeeps used by the Yugoslav Army, but the camouflage paint looked more like NATO paint than our drab olive color. I concluded that whoever was inside the RTS building was a trained professional and went on walking in a circle around the meeting place rather than stand in the crowd.

At 15:45 I was just behind the RTS building when I heard whistles and shouts, followed by the worst human stampede I have ever seen. I ran for about 400-500m, and then turned around. People were running from the meeting place and pouring into nearby streets. The wind carried a smell very familiar to me: tear gas. Later I learned that the people had confronted the police forces at the Assembly entrance and almost run them over, when the police received the command to use "every necessary mean to stop people from entering the building".

But the people pressed in and police fired so many cans of tear gas that it was impossible to breathe. The people scattered but the wind was blowing and the tear gas was carried away. People charged the Assembly building again, and this time they reached the main door. The police had used up all of their tear gas, and some of them fired their side arms into or over the crowd but killed no-one.

The crowd backed up for the last time. Nearly 200 policemen were stranded inside the building. Their commander abandoned them and they were low on tear gas.

The people continued to press on the main door, and countless stones were thrown into windows. The police forces were in a desperate situation, and they decided they had no way out but to surrender and hope they would avoid being mobbed by the crowd.

Who started the fire in the Assembly basement, and whether it was planted on purpose or just an accident, will always remain a mystery, but in a few moments the whole basement was on fire and thick black smoke poured out of the broken windows. Facing the mob on the outside and fire in the building, the police surrendered and the people stormed the National Assembly. Some people said the police gave up when they received the order to fire at the crowd, but I personally think that the order was misinterpreted as "use arms only in self defence, and try to retreat under fire if in grave danger".

By that time I was facing police forces who exited the RTS building and tried to help their friends who were trapped in the Assembly building. They had also run out of tear gas and the people were determined that no police or army force would drive them away from the meeting. The police tried one last desperate plan to reinforce forces in the RTS building and Assembly building with forces from a nearby police station but the people raised barricades and blocked the streets.

I was careful to maintain distance, so I could run away if things became too bad but still throw rocks at them. On a few occasions the police charged down the street, but only to scare those who were throwing rocks. At other times the police were standing still. We used that time to build some barricades, using trash cans, cars, and other things we found. In that way we blocked a few streets so no car, van of bus could pass through to the RTS building and reinforce the police. But the people were encouraged by the easy fall of the Assembly building and surrender of the police forces guarding it, and decided to continue their charge to enter the RTS building.

The yellow bulldozer was put into action one more time, as it smashed the front door of the RTS building and left a hole so big no police car could block it. People encircled the RTS building and the police retreated deeper into the basement and cellar. Rocks destroyed almost every window in the building, and someone set a fire to force the police to surrender or be burned alive. At that moment I was still one street down from the RTS building when I saw an Armored Troop Carrier, going through the barricades at full speed. It was followed by two more ATCs, and four humvees (I'm not sure about the name, but I recognize a NATO or US army jeep, when I see one).

They breached the barricades and fired so many tear gas shells on us that I was almost blind from crying. There was no way to endure that concentration of gas, so I backed up few street away and entered a residential building to ask for some water to rinse my eyes and mouth. I was afraid that the ATC's were the army’s and that the army was overtaking the town, but then something strange and terrifying came to my mind.

The ATC wasn't ours and we don't have humvees in our army but, most of all, our soldiers don't have black gas masks, and don't wear black leather gloves without fingers. What I saw was more like delta force than anything else. In the days before demonstrations, there was a word on the street that Milosevic would use one part of his forces dressed as NATO soldiers to provoke incident and proclaim a state of emergency. To me, it looks like exactly like that. I rinsed my eyes and face, and went back to the street expecting the worst.

P.S. This is part two... Expect part three in a few days.. situation is getting better. (16/10/00)

Gotov Je (He's Finished)! Part 3: the final part ... so far

Vladimir Sukalovic continues his first-hand account of the overthrow of Slobodan Milsevic. Part 1 told of the campaign leading up to the election and Part 2 described the turmoil as the people of Yugoslavia protested against Milosevic's attempts to challenge the election result.

The air was full of tear gas as I got back to the street. I was wearing a wet scarf around my nose and mouth, as protection from the gas. I saw people running back and forth in all directions, some shouting "It's over! We won!" some of them gasping for fresh air and some of them crying because of the tear gas. Then another armoured troop carrier went by, turned around the corner, and stopped at the crossroad with the street leading to the RTS building. A machine gun was clearly visible on top. It was loaded and soldier was aiming it. It looked like he was going to fire but he changed his mind and got back into the carrier, closing the top hatch. In the next moment people charged the short distance to the Carrier and got on the top, blocking peeking holes and visors.

One of them waved the DOS flag and shouted "Get out! Join us, we are the same people". In a few minutes a huge crowd formed around the carrier, and eventually the top hatch was opened and the soldier got out. He was greeted with applause, cheers, and shouting, and some of people on the carrier hugged him and shook hands.

He asked us to let him pass as he had orders to reach the RTS building. People made a passage, and the carrier slowly moved on.

On the next crossroad we encountered 4 hummers (US military jeeps) full of soldiers. They were piled inside the back of the Jeeps with gas masks on their faces and weapons in their hands. We also saw thick black smoke coming from the RTS building and people who were surrounding the jeeps, but we kept a good distance from them. At that moment I was scared. The situation was very uneasy. It seemed to me that the soldiers were waiting for a rock, bottle or stick to be thrown at them, and then they would open fire and kill every one in sight. They looked terrible, as they were wearing full NATO (or US) battle uniforms, with those easy-to-recognize deep-cut helmets and harnesses loaded with ammunition clips and grenades.

Some of them were armed with 40mm grenade launchers that were full of tear gas clips, but what really frightened me was a rifle that I had only seen twice in my life – once in the papers and the second time while I was in the army. That was an Ilarco Americana 180 (I'm not sure about this, I think that's the name) submachine gun, capable of firing 20 rounds per second. One can easily recognize this model by the clip mounted on top of the weapon, holding 3 500 bullets. All of the soldiers were wearing black gas masks (NATO model, as the Yugoslav Army has green ones) and no marks on their uniforms or vehicles.

For a moment everyone was quiet, but our arrival with the carrier, decorated with opposition flags and full of people, broke the silence. People started to shout "Take off the masks! Get out of the jeeps! Join us!" but the soldiers were quiet. I saw two friends of mine and tried to find out what was going on, who those soldiers were, which side they were on and what were they doing there, but my friends knew nothing. One of them approached the hummer to ask them, but got no reply. People surrounded the jeeps, and more were coming every minute.

In the end the crowd blocked the street from all sides. Fear was still in the air, and continuous shouts to "take off your masks and got out of vehicles" were still unanswered. I was curious about who they are, as they were dressed more like Delta Force than our army, but most of them were armed with AK-47Ks, a rifle used by our troops. And then it happened almost in a flash. A small man dressed in something that looked more like a jump suit than a uniform, got out of the hummer and ordered soldiers to take off masks and dismount the vehicles. I recognized his suit as belonging to SAJ (Special Antiterrorist Unit), responsible only to president of the state, something like SAS in United Kingdom. People ran to the vehicles to greet the soldiers, and hugs were exchanged.

Some of the soldiers were happy and flashed three fingers in the air, but most of them were afraid, much as we were, and showed little emotion on their faces. But for me, that moment was the moment of truth. The elite force of the army were on our side. Something must have snapped inside the commander, as he disobeyed a direct order to protect the RTS building at all cost.

The police still in the burning building surrendered shortly after that, knowing that all was lost. Most of them gave their helmets, shields and sticks to the people, and went from the building to the nearby parking lot, followed by the crowd. I came closer to see them. Without their formidable equipment, they all looked tired, depressed and lost. Never before had I dared to stand in front of them within range of their sticks, but this time they were harmless. People quickly mixed with the police to celebrate, ask for a photo or just to chat. I overheard some fragments of conversation in which young policeman explained to an elder man: "Our commander left us. We were desperate, and didn't know what to do. I didn't hit any one." In about 15 minutes, some buses came and took the police to a central police station.

The army withdrew to their city HQ. We were triumphant. I rushed to the RTS building. People were trashing everything they had found inside. Some of them were demolishing the building, breaking windows, and throwing things out, but some of them decided it was better to take some still-working equipment out of the burning building and take it home. In the end it was burned to the ground. The RTS programs went off the air.

What NATO failed to do by bombing, people did barehanded. The main symbol of Milosevic's regime, the pillar of his power, was taken down. Never again will RTS spread its lies and half-truths. I passed by the RTS building, there was nothing to be done there, and continued to the Assembly building, which was still in flames. The firemen couldn't get near it because of the crowd. Across the park standing in front of the Assembly was the local JUL (Yugoslavian leftwing party – notorious party of Mira Markovic, Slobodan's wife) office.

People broke in, smashed everything they found and even tore the furniture apart piece by piece. After the demolition of the office, some boys wrote graffiti on the now bare walls – the last JUL in Belgrade!

Even greater damage was done to the cosmetics shop, "Scandal", that belonged to Slobodan's son, Marko. People not only broke everything inside, they even took paint from the walls, and then sprayed more graffiti on the walls – "Go now to your daddy and cry!". The same fate befell almost every office of the SPS and JUL parties in Belgrade.

After the demolition, the liberation of the free media began.

In "Beogradjanka" tower, where Studio B Television and Radio Index station transmitted their programs, 15 policemen surrendered to my friend, who tricked them into believing that 100,000 people were in front of the tower, trying to get in. Studio B Television was completely controlled by the government. It was the first TV station to broadcast live from the streets of Belgrade, since RTS Television stopped broadcasting programs for many hours.

After a while, the first news came in, and it was good news: Belgrade's police HQ had surrendered and dismissed the whole police force. The army announced their neutrality in the clashes, as they had to protect the county, not the politicians. We were truly triumphant.

As Television Studio B started to broadcast their news, people spontaneously gathered in the center of the city to celebrate. That was another scene that touched my heart. After ten long years, people were smiling again.

All through the night people walked through the streets of Belgrade, looking for the last remnants of the old regime. After the Assembly building and the RTS building, people marched to the "Politika" building, the biggest news agency in the country, and "liberated" it also. Needless to say, the management of "Politika" left their offices and ran in panic at the sight of the people coming their way. In the morning, "Politika" printed "People of Serbia chose Kostunica for President", and a lot of people bought the papers to have a souvenir of the historic day.

I spent the rest of the night in the street. Too nervous to sleep, I was walking around, looking for friends, listening to stories and telling how I spent those few hours of what I called "revolution". I was sad to learn that the demonstrations had a death toll, as two people died during the day. One girl fell from the truck roof, under it's wheels, and died on the way to hospital, and another older man, suffered a heart attack, when he heard that Milosevic was gone. He was Milosevic's last victim.

Among the 300 wounded people, no one was in a critical condition, but a lot of them were shot either in police action, or later by accident during the celebration of the victory. I was uneasy because I heard that Milosevic was planning to use his personal guard and still-loyal forces to storm the town in the morning and retake control of the Assembly and the media he had lost, but that was only a rumour. Another rumour was that he had already left Serbia, on his way to Russia. But the very next day Milosevic appeared on TV and congratulated Kostunica on his victory. "From now on I will be in the opposition," he said.

In the days that followed, we saw numerous "liberations". Almost every media (TV, Radio or Press) was liberated, and their editors, directors and other key persons who were servants of the Milosevic regime were expelled, or better yet, they quit. Others who were known criminals or Milosevic's trusted men who were trying to get out of the country, or just to save what they had snatched in the past 10 years.

The TV station "Kosava", property of Milosevic's daughter Marija, was turned off on the night of 5th October and some days later sold to an unknown person for a small fraction of its real value. Others, who served Milosevic but didn't identify themselves in public quickly changed sides, and pledged loyalty to Vojislav Kostunica. Some of them praised Kostunica as their saviour as they had been forced to do as Milosevic wanted.

There were a few attempts to take money (or gold) from the country and run but they were stopped, except Milosevic's son Marko, who left the country in an airplane, with a passport in the name of Marko Jovanovic. There were some rumors that he tried to enter China but was turned away.

Those who occupied top positions in Milosevic's party, SPS, and Mirjana's JUL resigned, and most of them went into hiding. Those who decided to stand their ground until the end were forced to resign and sometimes even thrown out of their offices. After the resignation of Vlajko Stojiljkovic, Minister of Police and the Interior, everyone felt much safer, as the police forces were transferred to the control of DOS. Slobodan Milosevic faded away and the people of democratic Serbia celebrated for many days and nights.

PS. Even now there is so much to write about, especially about common people, workers, teachers, doctors who cleaned their factories, schools and hospitals of left-wing elements and Milosevic's servants.

But, we still have severe power shortages, almost every day, and in the face of coming winter I am afraid that this one will be much harder to survive than last one.

Vladimir Sukalovic lives in Belgrade and works as a Research Assistant while completing a PhD project on "Computer Aided Modelling of Dopamine Receptor Ligands". He was born in 1971.