The popular vote against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Sunday’s presidential election was “a slap for Slobo,” according to the Guardian of London. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung declared, “The colossus of Belgrade is tottering. He is still standing, but on Sunday it became clear that the clay feet on which he has wobbled, rather than stood, for years are crumbling.”
Opposition tallies showed challenger Vojislav Kostunica pulling 55 percent of the vote to Milosevic’s 35 percent, with 10 percent going to minor candidates. However, the state-run election commission claimed that Milosevic took 40.23 percent of the vote and Kostunica 48.22 percent. Since the government claimed that neither candidate reached the 50 percent required for outright victory, a second round of voting was ordered for Oct. 8. Several papers speculated that Milosevic manufactured the runoff to buy time, especially since he calculated that, in the words of FAZ, “the united opposition will not allow their candidate’s triumph to be disputed and will call for a boycott.”
Despite the call for a second election, papers were optimistic that Milosevic will fall. The Financial Times said, “Without widespread vote-rigging and intimidation, [Kostunica’s] victory would have been a landslide. Quite unexpectedly, Serbs now have a real chance to rid themselves of the man who has brought them three disastrous wars and a decade of hardship.” The Guardian pronounced Milosevic “electoral dead meat” in the eyes of Western leaders and said there were two points of clarity among the “confusing war of words”:
One is that Mr Kostunica, by any normal measure, has indeed won a signal, remarkable victory on which he should be congratulated. Serbs finally turned their backs in large numbers on Mr Milosevic’s decade-old tactic of dividing the nation into patriots and traitors. But it is also clear that nobody, perhaps not even Mr Milosevic himself, has any firm idea what he will do now—yet whatever he decides is likely to spell trouble.
Britain’s Independent said, “[I]t would now seem very hard for [Milosevic] to recapture the genie of democracy that he unwittingly released.” Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Anna Husarska entreated:
If Serbs have the least instinct of self-preservation, they will not allow the momentum started at the ballot boxes to be lost. … When wounded, dictators tend to attack. … The advice to the Serbian people is, “Don’t let him off the hook” even if this costs some bloody noses, sweaty backs and eyes stinging from tear gas. Dictators do not go easily. But eventually they go.
As of Wednesday night, Kostunica refused to participate in a second round, saying, “There is not a single reason, either moral or political, for us to accept this outrageous trampling on the electoral will of the people.” Canada’s Globe and Mail implored him to run:
Mr. Kostunica’s supporters feel they have won, and they want what is coming to them. But outrage is not much use in a chess game. Mr. Milosevic is one of the game’s better players. Beating him will require not anger but guile. That means doing something he does not expect. He does not expect Mr. Kostunica to run a second time for what he has already won. He expects him to shout from the sidelines. Mr. Kostunica should take the old fox by surprise.
Precious bodily fluids: The Moscow Times reported that police suspect coroners in Siberia of having “secretly removed pituitary glands from thousands of corpses in the past two years and illegally smuggled them abroad.” The pituitary produces human growth hormone, which is used to treat growth defects and is also a banned performance-enhancing drug for athletes. Russian law permits tissue to be extracted from cadavers without consent.
Monkey bars: Ape Alliance, a British charity group, warned that primates are being eaten to extinction. According to the Times, along with erosion of habitat by agricultural clearance, war, and bush fire, the “bushmeat” trade poses a grave threat to apes’ survival. An editorial warned readers that although foods such as alligator, snake, and shark, which are now available in London restaurants, are usually legitimate, “it sets a precedent for the enjoyment of ever more curious and exotic comestibles. It opens up appetites which create a new and potentially threatening market. Choice in Britain is already more than adequate. So why add even more to it? Why not simply enjoy our own local produce? We should bring home the (British) bacon and not let them eat snake.” Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that attack monkeys are the new weapons of choice for Parisian gangs. Since French authorities clamped down on aggressive dogs such as pitbulls and rottweilers, Barbary apes “known for their powerful limbs, sharp teeth and short tempers” have become “ultra-fashionable.” More than 40 apes have been turned in to the city’s animal shelters in the last 18 months.