Overthrow of Slobodan Milošević

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Overthrow of Slobodan Milošević
Part of the Yugoslav Wars
5. oktobar mapa.png
Map of significant buildings during the protests
Date29 September – 5 October 2000 (2000-09-29 – 2000-10-05)
(6 days)
Caused by
Resulted inDOS victory;
Parties to the civil conflict

Serbia and Montenegro Anti-government protesters led by Democratic Opposition of Serbia

Civic organizations:

Supported by:
 Government of Montenegro
 United States[7]
 European Union
Lead figures
Vojislav Koštunica
Zoran Đinđić
Velimir Ilić
Goran Svilanović
Čedomir Jovanović
Srđa Popović
Slobodan Milošević
Momir Bulatović
Mirko Marjanović
Radomir Marković
Mirjana Marković
Vojislav Šešelj
Hundreds of thousands[8]
Unknown number of policemen
Death(s)2 (non-violent)[8]

The overthrow of Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, began after the presidential election on 24 September and culminated in the downfall of Slobodan Milošević's government on 5 October 2000. It is sometimes referred to as the 5 October Overthrow (Serbian: Петооктобарска револуција, Petooktobarska revolucija, lit.'The October 5 Revolution') and sometimes colloquially called the Bager revolucija (lit.'Bulldozer Revolution'), after one of the most memorable episodes from the day-long protest in which a heavy equipment operator charged the Radio Television of Serbia building, considered to be symbolic of the Milošević regime's propaganda.


Milošević's rule has been described by observers as authoritarian or autocratic, as well as kleptocratic, with numerous accusations of electoral frauds, political assassinations, suppression of media freedom and police brutality.[9][10][11][12] He became the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes.[13] His role in the Yugoslav Wars led to international sanctions against FR Yugoslavia, which had a devastating impact on the Yugoslav economy and society, while NATO bombing significantly damaged the infrastructure.[14][15] Overthrow of Milošević 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 not acknowledge.[16]

In 1998, a dozen students met to form Otpor! (Serbian for "resistance"). Analysing the mistakes of the 1996–97 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.[16]

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.[17] As the end of his first term in office of the president of Yugoslavia approached (previously, he had been elected president of Serbia, in two terms, from 1989 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.[citation needed] Many onlookers believed that Milošević's intentions for supporting such reforms had more to do with holding power than with improving democracy.[18] 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 23 July 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.[citation needed]

On 25 August 2000, Ivan Stambolić, a former mentor and political ally of Milošević, was mysteriously kidnapped and detained from his home and was summarily executed in Fruška Gora. The hit was believed to have been initiated by Milošević so he could prevent Stambolić from being a potential electoral opponent. His decomposed body was found three years later in March 2003.[19][20] The four officers who had kidnapped him were sentenced. Milošević was charged for initiating the assassination.[21][22]

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.[citation needed]

For a year leading up to the elections, the United States-funded consultants played a crucial role in the anti-Milošević campaign.[23] The key symbol of the campaign was the slogan Gotov je! (Serbian Cyrillic: Готов је!, meaning "He is finished!"), created by Otpor!. Part of the U.S. funding of the opposition (a reported $41 million) included 2.5 million stickers with the slogan and 5,000 spray cans for anti-Milošević graffiti.[23] Material was channeled by the U.S. Department of State through QUANGOs.[24][25][26]


The vote took place on 24 September 2000. The DOS coalition reported that Vojislav Koštunica won over half of the votes, enough to defeat Milošević in a single round. 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 a large margin in these parts of the country. These unexpected results provoked stronger accusations of election fraud and led DOS to call for peaceful protests to topple the government.[citation needed]

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.[27][specify]

All of these discrepancies provoked massive outrage. The results were declared false immediately after Milošević was removed, and revised official results were released 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 giving Koštunica an absolute, if narrow, first-round victory; Koštunica finished with just a few thousand votes over the threshold to avoid a runoff.[citation needed]

Differences between the official results proclaimed by Federal Electoral Committee before and after 5 October
Official results (28 September 2000)[28] Official results (10 October 2000)[29]
Candidate Nominator Votes % Votes %
Vojislav Koštunica Democratic Opposition of Serbia 2,474,392 48.96 2,470,304 50.24
Slobodan Milošević SPSJULSNP 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
Eligible voters 7,249,831 / 6,871,595 /

Protests and overthrow[edit]

The protests initially started with strikers at the Kolubara mines on 29 September, which produced most of Serbia's electricity.[30] 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!"[31][32] Unlike previous protests, there was no large scale police crackdown. The parliament was partially burned during the protests.[citation needed]

The protest is frequently named the "Bulldozer Revolution" after one of the most memorable episodes from the day-long protest in which heavy equipment operator Ljubisav Đokić, nicknamed Joe, fired up his machine — neither an excavator nor bulldozer but a wheel loader, the event name is inaccurate out of convenience - and used it to charge a Belgrade building.[a] Its tenant, Serbian state television RTS, had for a decade been a symbol and bastion of Milošević's rule. When their studios were taken over, the station was quickly renamed Novi RTS ("New RTS") as a sign that the regime had lost power.[citation needed]

Although the protest was mostly peaceful, without a larger escalation of violence, two people died. Jasmina Jovanović fell under a wheel loader[33] or, according to other sources, a truck,[8] and Momčilo Stakić succumbed to a fatal heart attack.[34] 65 persons were injured in the riots.[8]

In the time between elections and the protest, Milošević said that he would gladly resign but only when his term expired in June 2001. Due to pressure caused by the protests, Milošević resigned on 5 October 2000.


A DOS victory was guaranteed in parliamentary elections in December, where they achieved a two-thirds majority. On 1 April 2001, Milošević was detained by Serbian police and later 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 four-year trial.[35][36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
    Ljubisav Đokić (Serbian Cyrillic: Љубисав Ђокић; nicknamed "Džo" ("Џо"), the Serbian phonetical translation of Joe) was a wheel loader operator who became the main symbol of the overthrow.[37] Đokić had a spinal deformity and at the time he was a timber yard and construction material warehouse owner. Soon after the overthrow, he started opposing the new government, saying it had done almost nothing to improve the standard of the war-torn country. He even said that during Milošević's regime he was the owner of a company which operated with success, but that post-Milošević politicians made such unhealthy economic conditions, that his business failed and he went bankrupt, even selling his iconic wheel loader and living on 180-euro social benefits.[38]
  2. He died on 11 July 2020.


  1. ^ a b Boško Nicović (4 October 2010). "Hronologija: Od kraja bombardovanja do 5. oktobra" (in Serbian). B92. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  2. ^ Jacky Rowland (18 March 2000). "Serbia clamps down on media". BBC News. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Clashes after Serb media raid". BBC News. 17 May 2000. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b Charles Webel; Johan Galtung (12 March 2017). Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 9781134154814.
  5. ^ Timothy Garton Ash (3 November 2000). "Today we will be free or die". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  6. ^ Max Rennebohm (8 September 2011). "Serbians overthrow Milosevic (Bulldozer Revolution), 2000". Global Nonviolent Action Database. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  7. ^ Stewart, Susan (2012). Stewart, Susan (ed.). State Democracy Promotion and the 'Colour Revolutions'. Routledge. ISBN 9780415689687. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Parties, citizens mark 5 October". B92. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Milosevic: Serbia's fallen strongmany". BBC. 30 March 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  10. ^ Sell, Louis (1999). "Slobodan Milošević: A Political Biography". Problems of Post-Communism. 46 (6): 12–27. doi:10.1080/10758216.1999.11655857.
  11. ^ Keen, Mike; Mucha, Janusz (2013). Autobiographies of Transformation: Lives in Central and Eastern Europe. Routledge. p. 176.
  12. ^ Byrne, Richard (2 November 2009). "Balkan Bottom Line". Foreign Policy.
  13. ^ "Milosevic indictment makes history". CNN. 27 May 1999.
  14. ^ Becker, Richard (2005). "The role of sanctions in the destruction of Yugoslavia (excerpt)". NATO in the Balkans. IA center. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  15. ^ Zunes, Stephen (6 July 2009). "The US War on Yugoslavia: Ten Years Later". Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b ""Bringing Down A Dictator", Steve York, PBS, April 2003". aforcemorepowerful.org. Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  17. ^ 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.[1]
  18. ^ "Milosevic: No signs of bowing out". BBC News. 6 July 2000.
  19. ^ "Detention and Disappearance of Ivan Stambolic". b92.net.
  20. ^ "Ex-Serb president's body found". CNN. 28 March 2003.
  21. ^ "BBC NEWS - Europe - Milosevic charged over killing of rival". bbc.co.uk.
  22. ^ "Ulemeku 40 godina, Markoviću 15". B92 (in Serbian). 18 July 2005.
  23. ^ a b Washington Post 2000.
  24. ^ Nicholas Thompson (2001). "This Ain't Your Momma's CIA". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on 9 January 2007.
  25. ^ "U.S. Advice Guided Milosevic Opposition". Washington Post.
  26. ^ Scott Shane. "Russia Isn't the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "What Has Made The Federal Electoral Committee Change the Laws of Addition?" (in Serbian). CeSID. 2 October 2000. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009.
  28. ^ Federal Electoral Committee: Official results of the election (web site of the Government of Serbia, 28 September 2000) (in Serbian)
  29. ^ ElectionGuide.org: Serbia and Montenegro
  30. ^ "Neke vođe štrajka nisu bile na proslavi godišnjice". blic.rs. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Serbia as one example of US meddling in foreign elections". 19 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  32. ^ Shane, Scott (17 February 2018). "Russia Isn't the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Otkriven spomenik Jasmini Jovanović". B92 (in Serbian). 5 October 2002.
  34. ^ "Momčilo Stakić umro na ulicama Beograda". Glas javnosti (in Serbian). 6 October 2000.
  35. ^ Cohen, Roger (12 March 2006). "To His Death in Jail, Milosevic Exalted Image of Serb Suffering". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  36. ^ Simons, Marlise; Smale, Alison (12 March 2006). "Slobodan Milosevic, 64, Former Yugoslav Leader Accused of War Crimes, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  37. ^ "Simbol "oktobarske revolucije", bagerista Ljubisav Đokić Džo za "Glas": Ako ne budu dobri". Glas javnosti. 24 November 2000. (interview)
  38. ^ "Šta sada radi Bagerista Džo?". b92 (in Serbian). 5 October 2012., Љубисав Ђокић (in Serbian).

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]