Pokret za slobodu in front of the Government on 17th April 2012

In memory of Verica Barać, 17th April Pokret za slobodu held a press conference and organized a protest during which the representatives of executive power were again delivered the reports of Anti-Corruption Council to which there has been no answer for years.

The protest was preceded by a press conference held in the Center for Cultural Decontamination, where all present were addressed by Milenko Srećković (Pokret za slobodu), Zoran Gočević (Srbolek), Zdravko Deurić (Jugoremedija), Vanja Dragojlović (Sever, Subotica), Ljubica Stjepanović Muhić (IP Prosveta), and Dejan Živković (Želvoz, Smederevo). During the conference, which was also participated by the shareholders of C-market and the workers of Rekord from Rakovica, RS Partners PES from Surdulica, and ABS Minel from Ripanj, the great part which Verica Barać had in revealing corruption in privatization of mentioned companies was highlighted. Those gathered were also addressed by Danilo Šuković, Verica Barać's husband, and a member of the Council, who declared that the society will be free only if it get rid of the coupling of tycoons and politicians, which would also be the best way to repay its debt to Verica. Miroslav Grubanov (association Paori from Crepaje), Zoran Dimitrijević (association of Serbian War Veterans), Dragana Čabarkapa (Serbia Journalists Union) and Jelena Veljić (Student collective Odbrani Filozofski) too gave their support to workers struggles.

On this occasion, electronic version of the report on corruption in privatization was also sent to the representatives of European Commission in Serbia, to the Special Envoy for the Balkans Jelko Kacin, as well as to the European Commission. We remind that 29th March European Parliament adopted the Resolution which expresses necessity of revision of privatizations of 24 Serbian companies, for which European Commission believes there are serious doubts about their legality. In the report which Pokret za slobodu sent to the EU representatives, the need for the list of contested privatizations being enlarged by all other contested privatization cases was pointed out; that process should commence with the cases of Sever from Subotica and RS Partners PES from Surdulica, while the following reports should present the nature and the scope of corruption in other companies. Likewise, it was insisted on urgency of solving the questions of Srbolek and Jugoremedija's privatizations in order for production in those factories to be saved.

After the conference, few hundreds of workers gathered in front of the building of the Serbian Government, where the Serbian Government was again given the reports of the Anti-Corruption Council, which thoroughly describe corruption in the process of privatization. Farmers too gave their support to this protest, marking in that way the 17th April - international day of peasants' struggle.

by Jelena Veljić

17th April 2012 - Over three hundred people gathered to protest illegal and corrupt privatization outside the Government of Serbia in Belgrade on the afternoon of April 17th. Organized by Freedom Fight (Pokret za Slobodu), the demonstration took aim at the economic and social problems which have accompanied privatization and the introduction of neo-liberal market reforms: unemployment, deindustrialization, poverty, etc. The protest began with a march to the state building from a press conference in which representatives from Pokret za slobodu and various workers’ organizations announced that they would deliver a report on corruption and privatization to the Balkan representative of the European Commission. The report follows from a resolution of the European Parliament last month calling on Serbia to investigate 24 contentious and potentially illegal privatizations, a list that includes some of the country’s  the most prominent firms: Mobtel, C Market, Jugoremedija, Sartid, Zastava Elektro and ATP Vojvodina. The resolution poses an obstacle to Serbia’s quest for EU membership and European integration more generally, and highlights the urgent need to renew the country’s manufacturing base and prevent further economic collapse. The presentation of the report also aimed to honor the legacy of Verica Barać, the recently deceased president of Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Council, and her long battle against the corruption, criminality and theft carried out in the name of privatization. Today’s protest marked only the latest effort on the part of workers, students, small shareholders in privatized enterprises and others to challenge systemic corruption and injustice in Serbia, and the state apparatuses that have enabled, tolerated and even colluded in the impoverishment and upheaval that has resulted.
by Irina Cerić

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