Overthrow of Slobodan Milošević
|Overthrow of Slobodan Milošević
|2 (nonviolence) fatalities|
A series of events occurred in 2000 in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, following the presidential elections and culminating in the downfall of Slobodan Milošević's government on 5 October 2000. It is sometimes referred to as the '5 October Overthrow' and sometimes colloquially called the 'Bager revolucija', translated into English as Bulldozer Revolution, after one of the most memorable episodes from the day long protest in which an engineering vehicle operator Ljubisav Đokić fired up his engine (which was actually neither bulldozer nor "bager" (excavator), but a wheel loader), and used it to charge the RTS building, which was a symbol of regime propaganda of Slobodan Milosevic and his ruling party, who controlled and censured outflow of information for the public.
Events preceding the elections 
Milošević's overthrow was reported as a spontaneous revolution. However, there had been a year-long battle involving thousands of Serbs in a strategy to strip the leader of his legitimacy, turn his security forces against him, and force him to call for elections, the result of which he would now acknowledge.
In 1998, a dozen students met to form Otpor (Serbian for "resistance"). Analysing the mistakes of 1996–1997 protests, they realised they needed a more effective organisation (strategy, planning, recruiting) and all else necessary for a sustained fight. Galvanised by outrage over new laws that imposed political control of their universities and harassment of independent media, the Otpor students called for the removal of Milošević and the establishment of democracy and the rule of law.
Prior to this, Milošević was cracking down on opposition, non-government organisations and independent media. From 1991 onwards there were campaigns of civil resistance against his administration that were to culminate in the largely non-violent revolution of October 2000. As the end of his first term in office of the president of Yugoslavia approached (he had previously been elected president of Serbia in two terms, from 1990 to 1997), on 6 July 2000, the rules of the election of the president were changed. Whilst the president of Yugoslavia had previously been chosen for one term only by the legislature, in the Yugoslav parliament, it was now to be directly elected via the two-round voting system of presidential elections with a maximum of two terms. Many onlookers believed that Milošević's intentions for supporting such reforms had more to do with holding power than with improving democracy. On 27 July 2000, the authorities announced that the early elections were to be held 24 September 2000, although Milošević's term wouldn't expire until June 2001. The elections for the upper house of the federal parliament, Council of Citizens (Veće građana), as well as the local elections were also scheduled to be held on the same date.
Soon after the announcement, the anti-government youth movement Otpor led the campaign to topple the administration and introduce a transparent democracy. To unify opposition, eighteen parties in Serbia formed the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, with Vojislav Koštunica as the candidate to confront Milošević. Apart from this, two major opposition parties, Serbian Radical Party and Serbian Renewal Movement also had candidates (Tomislav Nikolić and Vojislav Mihailović, respectively), but the main battle of the elections was the one between Milošević and Koštunica. The election campaign lasted for about two months and was extremely tense, with numerous incidents, accusations of treason, independent media shutdowns and even murders. On 25 August 2000, one month before elections, Ivan Stambolić, former president of the Presidency of Serbia, and Milošević associate turned DOS supporter, was kidnapped and murdered by Special Operations Unit officers. In 2005, the court found that the order for Stambolić's assassination came from Milošević.
The vote took place on 24 September 2000. The DOS coalition reported that Vojislav Koštunica won over half of the votes. The government-controlled Federal Electoral Committee claimed that no candidate won over 50% of the votes and that a second round between Koštunica and Milošević would take place. The vote was largely boycotted in Montenegro and by Kosovo Albanians. Yet, Milošević officially won by large margin in these parts of the country. These unexpected results provoked stronger accusations of election fraud and led DOS to call for peaceful protest to topple the government.
Some obvious irregularities could be found in the Federal Electoral Committee official results. For example, the sum of the numbers of valid and invalid votes was not equal to the number of voters; the sum of the numbers of the voters voting at the polling stations and the voters voting at home exceeded the total number of voters; the sum of the numbers of the used and the unused ballot papers was short by 117,244 in comparison to the number of eligible voters, the number of eligible voters was different from the one announced before the elections and has differed in the presidential, federal and local elections results, etc. All of these discrepancies provoked massive outrage. The results were declared false immediately after Milošević was removed and the new official results were declared shortly afterwards. The new results were practically the same, except for the number of total votes and the votes for Milošević, both of which were lower by 125,000–130,000 votes, thus making Koštunica an absolute first-round election winner.
|Official results (28 September 2000)||Official results (10 October 2000)|
|Vojislav Koštunica||Democratic Opposition of Serbia||2,474,392||48.96||2,470,304||50.24|
|Slobodan Milošević||Socialist Party of Serbia||1,951,761||38.62||1,826,799||37.15|
|Tomislav Nikolić||Serbian Radical Party||292,759||5.79||289,013||5.88|
|Vojislav Mihailović||Serbian Renewal Movement||146,585||2.90||145,019||2.95|
|Miodrag Vidojković||Affirmative Party||46,421||0.92||45,964||0.93|
|Total valid votes (Percentage of total votes)||4,911,918||97.20||4,778,929||97.19|
|Invalid votes (Percentage of total votes)||135,371||2.68||137,991||2.81|
|Total votes (Turnout)||5,053,428||69.70||4,916,920||71.55|
Protests and the overthrow 
The protest initially started with strikers at the Kolubara mines, which produce most of Serbia's electricity needs. The protest reached its height on 5 October 2000. Several hundred thousand protesters from all over Serbia arrived in Belgrade to protest, chanting "He's finished! He's finished!" Unlike previous protests, there was no large scale police crackdown. The parliament was partially burned during the protests.
The protest is frequently named the "Bulldozer Revolution" after one of the most memorable episodes from the day long protest in which an engineering vehicle operator Ljubisav Đokić nicknamed Joe fired up his engine (actually neither an excavator nor bulldozer but a wheel loader, the event name is inaccurate out of convenience) and used it to charge the RTS building. Its tenant, Serbian state television RTS, had for a decade been a symbol and bastion of Milošević's rule. When the RTS studios were taken over, the station was quickly renamed "Novi RTS" ("New RTS") as a sign that the regime had lost power.
Although the protest was mostly peaceful, without a larger escalation of violence, two people died. Jasmina Jovanović fell under a wheel loader or, according to other sources, a truck, and Momčilo Stakić succumbed to a fatal heart attack. 65 persons were injured in the riots.
In the time between elections and the protest, Milošević said that he would gladly resign but only when his term expired in June of the following year. Due to pressure caused by the protests, Milošević resigned on 7 October 2000.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2008)|
A DOS victory was guaranteed in parliamentary elections in December, where they achieved a two-thirds majority. On 1 April 2001, Milošević was arrested by Serbian police and was subsequently transferred to The Hague to be prosecuted by the ICTY. He died in his cell on 11 March 2006, a few months before the conclusion of his trial.
Further reading 
||This article needs more links to other articles to help integrate it into the encyclopedia. (March 2013)|
- Pavol Demes and Joerg Forbrig (eds.). Reclaiming Democracy: Civil Society and Electoral Change in Central and Eastern Europe. German Marshall Fund, 2007.
The Results of the Second Ballot
In 2000 on September 26th, immediately after the elections in Serbia, Vojislav Kostunica declared himself the winner and went on record proclaiming himself, “the people’s president”. For hours people thought that maybe times had really changed. Unfortunately that was the extent of it, hours. The Federal Election Commission called for a second ballot proclaiming that neither candidate won a clear victory. (Grubacic, Andrej p.37) This sounded questionable right away.
In 2000 on September 27th the public reacted. In a true show of strength hundreds of thousands of protestors and supporters of a true democratic process, stepped out on the streets of Belgrade to call for Milosevic’s end to power. One of the strongest participating groups was OTPOR (Resistance), a growingly popular university student group joined to protest Milosevic. (Grubacic, Andrej p.37)
On October 2nd a following protest arises. A general strike is held by tens of thousands. Many schools and roads were forced closed. The once loyal coal miners had enough of Milosevic’s tyranny. Milosevic remained defiant but this impressive feat put some fear into the administration. He issued an official statement that he would not step down unless the second ballot’s results dictated that he do so. Meanwhile the general strike continued to grow nationwide. Miners from many cities moved on to protest the same day to support their fellow colleagues. (Lambert, Thomas)
On October 4th Milosevic had the police raid the Kolbura coal mine. This is the main mine in Serbia only 40 kilometers south of Belgrade. It was also at the time the provider of 70% of Serbia’s energy reserves. (Jennings, Salvatore Ray p.3) Most protestors involved in the general strike were coal miners. The police attempt to arrest the majority but only succeed in arresting several miners. Simultaneously Vojislav Kostunica arrived in Kolbura as soon as he heard the police raid was imminent. He received a hero’s welcome from thousands of locals and the police leave to avoid violence. Despite the outrage, Milosevic had enough political power that the Yugoslavian constitutional court annulled the election results altogether and decreed that Milosevic would serve out his last year and an election would be held in 2001. (Lambert, Thomas) This was unacceptable to all those that gave up days at work and were willing to give up much more. After hearing Milosevic’s statement, the protestors gave a statement of their own. The opposition gave a deadline for the next day at 3 pm for Milosevic to give up power publicly. They also called for a massive rally protest in the center of Belgrade to show they were serious. (Lambert, Thomas)
On October 5th, early in the morning the opposition got to work. At 7 am convoys filled with thousands of farmers, miners and other opposition supporters set out to Belgrade. This conglomeration of Serbians from multiple towns and cities across the land was very organized and even broke through multiple police blockades to reach Belgrade. (Lambert, Thomas) By noon tens of thousands of protestors clashed with the small police force left guarding the parliament building in Belgrade. The police panicked with the amazing amount of protestors flocking towards them. The protestors also arrived in several heavy machinery vehicles as a show of force and as physical means to tear down the buildings if necessary. (Mulholland, Niall 1) In particular the opposition had a bulldozer available.
The police fired live rounds into the air and deployed teargas to disperse the crowd. Although this worked on the first wave of screaming choking protestors, behind them thousands more flooded into Belgrade. With continuing chants and anticipation about the 3 pm deadline, the people waited. This was a mood point however as the 3 pm deadline came and passed without any word from the Milosevic regime. The people would not stand this and by 4 pm they had successfully ran up the steps of parliament and ran right through the underpowered police force. There were ever photographs taken of the scene where a lonely police man is embraced into the crowd as if he was one of the protestors from the start. In the heat of the moment, protestors set parts of the building on fire and ransacked the regimes offices. (Lambert, Thomas) This successful feat was to be known as the October 5th revolution and was key moment in the takedown of Milosevic long reign. (Grubacic, Andrej p.37) The protestors were also able to successfully take control of the nearby government-run TV station an hour later. A fierce but swift gun battle took place outside the news station but the screens went blank. (Lambert, Thomas) Soon after transmissions continued but the new banner across the top read, “New Radio Television Serbia”. (Grubacic, Andrej p.37) These events were unprecedented and showed that Milosevic cannot ignore or belittle the common people anymore. The climax of the protest came only an hour and a half later at 6:30 pm. The opposition leader, Vojislav Kostunica stood on the balcony of Belgrade City Hall. He addressed what now grew to over half a million Serbs and officially declared Serbia liberated and thanked for his election to the presidency. (Lambert, Thomas) Shortly after, the people had a chance to relish in their victory. From about 7:30 pm well into the night, the victors danced and rejoiced in the center of Belgrade in disbelief that Milosevic’s 13 year old regime was felled in less than 12 hours. (Lambert, Thomas)
Only a few months later former president Milosevic found himself in a very unlikely position. He was under twenty four hours police surveillance in Belgrade. He is arrested soon after during a standoff in his home. He attempted to escape and regroup. Milosevic was charged with the intentional misuse of government funds, essentially corruption. He was also charged with the abuse of his official government position powers. He awaited trial in Belgrade main prison. Ironically the U.S. President Bush demanded that Milosevic not be prosecuted in Serbia. Instead he was to be transferred to The Hague for war crimes during the Yugoslavian war. With the blackmail that U.S. aid would not be provided if Milosevic was not transferred, the new leadership had little choice. The Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djinjic overruled the Constitutional Court in this situation and extradited Milosevic. (Grubacic, Andrej p.38) Unfortunately Prime Minister Zoran did not corroborate this with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. Kostunica was a strong supporter of seeing Milosevic stand trial in Belgrade with those he angered to witness it. This decision by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran pit Kostunica against him. Kostunica’s pulled the Democratic Party of Serbia out of the Serbian Government. (Grubacic, Andrej p.38)
By 2002 Milosevic was on trial at The Hague for genocide and other war crimes. His trial was expected to take a long time though. What he left behind in Serbia and Yugoslavia as a whole had already begun to change. In early 2003 Serbian and Montenegro’s parliaments approve a constitutional charter effectively uniting the two. On February 4th of 2003 Yugoslavia ceases to exist as a nation. Only a month later Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in Belgrade. A state of emergency is put in place and new information implicates Milosevic in the murder of two key political figures, Ivan Stambolic and Vuk Draskovic. (Grubacic, Andrej p.38)
Lambert, Thomas. 2000. “Timeline of an Uprising” BBC, October. Rennebohm, Max. 2011. “Serbians overthrow Milosevic (Bulldozer Revolution), 2000.” Global Nonviolent Action Database Joksic, Mladen. “Serbia’s Bulldozer Revolution Reconsidered: Examining the Consequences of Pacted Transition in Cases of Regime Hybridity.” Ph. D. diss. The Hague, The Netherlands. Jennings, Salvatore Ray. “Serbia’s Bulldozer Revolution: Evaluating Internal and External Factors in Successful Democratic Breakthrough in Serbia.” Working Papers. Stanford University. Grubacic, Andrej. 2010. Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Oakland: PM Press
- "Oct. 5, 2000: Revolution in Yugoslavia". ABC. 5 October 2011.
- ; "Bringing Down A Dictator", Steve York, PBS,April, 2003
- Ivan Vejvoda, “Civil Society vs. Milošević: Serbia, 1991–2000”, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 295–316.
- "Milosevic: No signs of bowing out". BBC News. 6 July 2000.
- "Ulemeku 40 godina, Markoviću 15". B92 (in Serbian). 18 July 2005.
- "What Has Made The Federal Electoral Committee Change the Laws of Addition?" (in Serbian). CeSID. 2 October 2000.
- Federal Electoral Committee: Official results of the election (web site of the Government of Serbia, 28 September 2000) (Serbian)
- ElectionGuide.org: Serbia and Montenegro
- "Otkriven spomenik Jasmini Jovanović". B92. 5 October 2002. (Serbian)
- "Parties, citizens mark 5 October". B92. 5 October 2007.
- "Momčilo Stakić umro na ulicama Beograda". Glas javnosti. 6 October 2000. (Serbian)
- BBC: Timeline of an uprising
- Bringing Down A Dictator – the story about the events pictured in the movie
- Kamenko Pajić: Fall of Slobodan Milošević – pictures
- YouTube video of the events