Crack DownProtests Step Up as Serbian Leaders Claim Win

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Students hit the streets of Belgrade on Thursday and tensions were on the rise as Serbia's leaders proclaimed victory in rerun local elections they were accused of stealing.


"Rage and anger are greater today than ever after their shameful proclamation of victory in Belgrade,'' opposition leader Vuk Draskovic told independent B-92 radio.


He called on Belgrade residents to turn out for a 10th day of protests, but said political parties aligned against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would try to prevent a repeat of Wednesday's rock-throwing rampage. Draskovic's comments were interrupted, apparently by jamming.


The small radio station went off the air every time its reporters called in from the scene of demonstrations.


Milosevic's regime also reportedly was pressuring the largest-selling independent daily, Blic, to stop reporting on the demonstrations.


The paper's deputy editor, Cvijetin Milovojevic, resigned in protest. On Wednesday, the paper's print run was limited by a state-run printer.


The main opposition coalition, Zajedno, or Together, said the pressure on the media was a sign that Milosevic intended to crack down and impose a dictatorship.


About 30,000 students were on the streets again Thursday, a day after the rerun elections. Officials loyal to Milosevic, who invalidated elections Nov. 17 because of alleged irregularities, claimed that this time the Serbian leader's Socialists won.


State television reported preliminary results of Wednesday's voting that gave Milosevic 35 new seats in Belgrade. Added to the 20 they already had won, that gave them a majority in the 110-seat city assembly.


The official Tanjug news agency reported that Milosevic's Socialists also won 46 of 70 city council seats in the tense city of Nis, in southern Serbia. A major rally was planned there Thursday.


A lawyer for the opposition Democratic Party said the opposition filed another appeal to Serbia's Constitutional Court to overturn the election.


"But we have more hope in the thousands of students now marching through Belgrade than in a state where there is no law,'' said the lawyer, Goran Draganic.