“There was a directive coming from Djilas’ party, SZS (Savez za Srbiju – Alliance for Serbia), to assume the organization of street protests #1in5 million. The truck and the sound system were initially paid for by them, and later SZS demanded from the protest organizers that they should assume the leadership of the protests,” said one of Jelena Anasonovic, one of the initial organizers of #1in5 million protests.
The leader of the Alliance for Serbia (SZS) party, Dragan Djilas, was financing the protests and constantly trying to take control of them, Jelena Anasonovic says, thus revealing Djilas’ true role in the organization and the behind-the-scenes actions that he carried out to expel the original organizers of the protest from the entire endeavour.
Anasonovic has revealed a number of details about how the opposition parties and their leaders have been pressuring her and other organizers, with Djilas and his party exerting the biggest pressure.
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“I explained to Djilas that the protests had to be simple – only citizens and no insignia of any political party. He accepted that in the beginning, but soon the opposition started to usurp the protests during their media appearances, giving themselves the credit for them,” Anasovic explains. Before the second protest, she learned there was a directive coming from the SZS to take over the protests, but when she asked Stefan Pavlovic, who worked for Djilas, to investigate that, he said it was not true. “Shortly after, before the second protest, he informed me that Borko Stefanovic would speak to people after he was attacked. I said he couldn’t. I called Borko and told him, and he started shouting at me, saying that politicians aren’t ‘leprous’ and that he was the reason why the protests started in the first place,” Anasonovic said in her statement for the Blic daily.
Anasonovic also admitted that initially the truck and sound system used during the protests were funded by the SZS party, although the organizers were able to handle many other logistical issues themselves. Djilas’ party would later ask the organizers to meet certain conditions if they wanted funding for the protests. He also did not allow them to manage the protest’s financial matters on their own.
Branislav Trifunovic withdrew from the protests altogether when members of the People’s Party (Narodna Stranka) and the Dveri Movement verbally attacked him for wanting Dubravka Stojanovic (historian and university professor) to speak during the protests.
Political expert Jelena Vukoicic says that people quickly understood the background story of the protests. “All protests in Serbia were initiated by free citizens, but quickly turned into a political affair. It all started to crumble when people realized that they had been manipulated by political groups,” Vukoicic claims.
Anasonovic eventually withdrew from the protests. The 1in5 Million Association issued a statement the day before yesterday stating that her accusations were all wrong.
Anasonovic also claimed that journalist Tatjana Vojtehovski was involved in the protests and creating protest slogans in the first week, but then began to put pressure on the organizers on behalf of certain political parties, manipulating and humiliating the organizers for the benefit of those same parties. As she described, Vojtehovski was closely associated with the SZS and tried.
“One of her ideas was to burn a Christmas tree in front of the building of the Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS). You know, that Christmas tree that cost €83,000. We said that that was too radical a move. Janko Veselinovic and Vojtehovski then said that we should throw eggs at the RTS building, as a homage to the protesters from the 1990s who did the same,” Anasonovic adds.
Anasonovic concluded that the idea of blocking the University of Belgrade’s Rectorate building came from Djilas’ SZS party: “The idea of blocking the Rectorate building did not come from the students themselves, even though we spoke about false diplomas and PhDs as early as March. It came from Stefan Pavlovic, and I can only imagine who suggested it to him,” Jelena Anasonovic concludes.
This post is also available in: Italiano