Protests in Yugoslavia
By December 1989, the economic hardships, chronic shortages, and unwillingness to reform created the same pressures on the Yugoslav Communist Party as it had elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Popular protests had emerged throughout the country, only growing larger as word spread of similar problems in nearby Romania. This report by the Yugoslav Ambassador to Russia, Milan Veres, to the Soviet Politburo contains a description of the ongoing protests that had begun in the city of Timisoara. Under this pressure, the Yugoslav Communist Party attempted to lead a reform effort intended to maintain its power. Its solution was to hold free elections under the principle of "one person, one vote," which unfortunately created immediate tensions from the underlying ethnic divisions of Yugoslavia's regions. By April 1990, Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence from the Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia, which seemed at first as a peaceful division of the country, though it soon lead to the beginning of the Yugoslav Civil War.
I. P. Aboimov, "Record of Conversation with the Ambassador of the SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] in the USSR, Milan Veres," 22 December 1989, reprinted in Diplomaticheskii vestnik, no. 21/22, November 1994, pp. 74-79, Translated byVladislav Zubok, courtesy of the Cold War International History Project
large group of people protested against the action of the authorities with regard to the priest L. Tokes. This process grew into a huge demonstration of the population of the city against the existing order. According to the estimates of officials of the General Consulate of the SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia], there were up to 100,000 people, including workers, university and school students, who participated in the demonstration. Protest actions took place also in Arad, Brasov and Cluj. Large contingents of militia and military were used against demonstrators in Timisoara. According to the Yugoslavs, during those clashes several hundred people died, and according to some unchecked data the number of casualties exceeded 2,000. In the downtown area shops, restaurants, cafes were destroyed, many streetcars and automobiles were also burnt down. Timisoara is surrounded by troops, but protest actions continue in the city. Workers seized factories and are threatening to blow them up if the authorities do not satisfy the people's demands. Officials of the General Consulate of the SFRY, the Ambassador remarked, noticed that a number of soldiers and militiamen expressed their sympathies with demonstrators. There were also slogans "The Army will not shoot at students and school children."