Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Neo-Nazis Arrested in Protest Against Kosovo Independence

Neo-Nazis Arrested in Protest Against Kosovo Independence

Associated Press 
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A14

BELGRADE, Serbia, Oct. 8 -- Serbian police said Monday they had detained 56 neo-Nazis who defied a ban and demonstrated to demand that the contested province of Kosovo remain part of Serbia. The arrests came after clashes broke out Sunday between members of the neo-Nazi group, called the National Guard, and anti-fascists holding a counter-demonstration.

The neo-Nazis had pressed ahead with their protest despite a ban following an outcry by Jewish groups and others. Several people were injured as the neo-Nazis threw stones at the anti-fascists.

The organizers of the counter-demonstration accused police of failing to protect them, and the opposition criticized the government for being too soft on extremists. They demanded an explanation from Interior Minister Dragan Jocic as to why the neo-Nazis were allowed to gather in the city of Novi Sad, about 30 miles north of Belgrade.

Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of the population of 2 million, remains formally part of Serbia. But it has been administered by the United Nations and NATO since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended a Serbian military crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in the southern province.

Kosovo Albanian leaders have repeatedly said they are seeking nothing but complete independence. But Serbia insists the province must technically remain part of Serbia.

In the Serbian parliament, Liberal Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic demanded the resignation of nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and blasted government leaders for failing to show up at the anti-fascist rally. "It was their duty to send a message" against fascism, Jovanovic said.

There was no immediate reaction from Kostunica, but Milos Aligrudic, a lawmaker from the prime minister's Democratic Party of Serbia, called for the banning of the groups that organized the antifascist demonstration. He said they were as "equally extreme" as the neo-Nazis.

No comments: