No More Mr. Nice

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BELGRADE: Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic appears to be regaining some of his old recalcitrance. For the fourth straight day, riot police patrolled the streets of Belgrade, quelling demonstrations by some 20,000 protesters still jamming the streets after 10 weeks of marches. The crowds are considerably smaller than a couple of weeks ago, when 200,000 people were streaming into Belgrade every day, blocking traffic and threatening to bring down Milosevic's Socialist government. Despite court rulings confirming opposition wins in the November 14 elections, Milosevic has so far relinquished very little of his power. Although he said he would allow a transfer of power in the city of Kragujevac, one of 14 cities won by opposition candidates, hundreds of police have blocked the transition by barricading themselves inside the city's TV station. By controlling the station, which the new mayor vows to liberate, Milosevic is effectively denying the opposition its most powerful tool.