Otpor!


Otpor!
Otpor! logo

Otpor! (Serbian Cyrillic: Отпор!, English: Resistance!) was a civic youth movement that existed as such from 1998 until 2003 in Serbia (then a federal unit within FR Yugoslavia), employing nonviolent struggle against the regime of Slobodan Milošević as their course of action. In the course of two-year nonviolent struggle against Milosevic, Otpor spread across Serbia and attracted more than 70,000 supporters. They were credited for their role in the successful overthrow of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000.[1]

Otpor had an important “watch dog” role after the October 5th, 2000 revolution. It launched campaigns to hold the new government accountable, pressing for democratic reforms and fighting corruption, as well as the unpopular cooperation with International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) at the Hague.[2]. In 2003, the group transformed into a political party, failed to pass the 5% threshold and win seats in the Serbian National assembly on elections, and soon ceased its activities by merging into the Democratic Party (DS).

Contents

Origins

Initial activity

Otpor! was formed in Belgrade on 10 October 1998 in response to repressive university and media laws introduced earlier that year by the Government of Serbia headed by Milošević loyalist Mirko Marjanović. The newly formed group mostly consisted of the Democratic Party (DS) youth wing members, members of various NGOs that operated in Serbia, and university students. Most of them were already veterans of anti-Milošević demonstrations such as the 1996-97 protests and the 9 March 1991 protest. It soon has grew from small group to network of young people who knew each other from either earlier student protests, or the Belgrade music scene and shared the same values. With the actual political opposition in Serbia in complete disarray, group made a firm decision to create a broad political movement rather than traditional NGO or political party. Frustrated with how opposition political leaders often protected their own interests and fought among themselves instead of fighting Milosevic, gruop also decided that "it would have no leaders." [3] Otpor! established its vision of tomorrow in the very beginning under the title "Declaration of the Future of Serbia." The Declaration became Otpor’s strategic document defining the main problems, objectives of the movement and the methods to be used. The Declaration was signed and supported by all the important student organizations in Serbia. Prominent people from various spheres of life gathered around Otpor; an advisory body was set up and its members became the main promoters of the Declaration and Otpor’s main idea.[4]

In the beginning, Otpor's activities were limited to the University of Belgrade. In an effort of gathering some new nonpartisan energy, not to mention making it harder for the regime media to discredit and smear them as just another opposition political group, Otpor! avoided publicizing its ties to the Democratic Party (DS) even though the two organizations held similar political goals and shared many of the same members.[5] Early on they agreed the organization's symbol to be the clenched fist. The actual drawing was reportedly a product of a man in love: young designer Nenad "Duda" Petrović who was asked to create a logo by a girl he was in love with - she reportedly told him that it's for some student organization.[6][7] The regime's immediate reaction to the appearance of Otpor! was extremely heavy handed even before the movement held any public gatherings. In November 1998, four students Teodora Tabački, Marina Glišić, Dragana Milinković, and Nikola Vasiljević were arrested for stencil spraying the clenched fist symbol on a building facade. Their sentence was 10 days in prison.[8]

The organization quickly gained prominence as the anti-regime print media outlets (most notably daily tabloid Dnevni telegraf) started featuring the clenched fist symbol in open defiance of regime's new information law. Otpor's first significant gathering took place on Saturday, 14 November at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering - over a thousand students marched across town to the Faculty of Philology where a number of students were under lockdown inside the building as the authorities wanted to prevent them from joining the protest. Otpor! leader Srđa Popović (also a member of the Democratic Party) got arrested that day, roughed up, and then released on intervention from Amnesty International after being detained for 8 hours. By late November, Otpor ideas reached Novi Sad, Serbia's second city, with the first graffiti appearing on buildings in the city.

During the NATO air-strikes against FR Yugoslavia in 1999 regarding the Kosovo War, Otpor! ceased its activities. In the aftermath of NATO bombing, the organization began a political campaign aimed directly against the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević. This resulted in nationwide police repression against Otpor activists, during which nearly 2,000 were arrested, some beaten.

Organization grows into a movement

A non-partisan, but overtly anti-regime organization with a loose and dynamic structure, Otpor managed to bring opposition parties together and mobilize the population of Serbia against Milosevic. Otpor stressed the importance of mobilizing the population to vote, but also promoted “individual resistance” (i.e. nonviolent methods of civic disobedience in order to counter possible electoral fraud). This strategy was slowly embraced by the opposition parties in the months to come.

The strategy was based on two assumptions:

  • That the opposition had to be united around one presidential candidate in order

to get more votes than Milosevic; and

  • That Milosevic would never accept defeat in the elections (and he would falsify ballots and even use force to

defend his power). [9]

By fall 1999 and early 2000, the Serbian opposition political parties, most notably the Democratic Party and the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), realized the potency of Otpor's methods and the resonance of its message with the youth. Thus began the battle for control of Otpor! between DS and SPO. Since both parties already had a significant number of their youth wing members within Otpor!, this trend continued on a large scale with both DS and SPO (and other opposition parties as well) instructing their local chapters throughout Serbia to recruit party youth members en masse into Otpor!.[10] As a result, Otpor's membership swelled into tens of thousands.

Otpor's unified message and diverse membership proved much more attractive to young activists than the deeply divided opposition parties of the time. [11] Although they had found common ground in Otpor, the separate opposition parties were still reluctant to cooperate among themselves. Otpor’s major challenge was to bring these divided groups together in preparation for the 2000 election campaign. Instead of using old methods of “bringing everyone to the table and then…trying to come up with a common strategy and goal,” the original core group of Otpor founders had gathered to first find a single goal that everyone could agree upon: removing Milosevic.[12]

Otpor is credited for stripping away the fear, fatalism and passivity that keep a dictator’s subjects under oppression as well as turning passivity into action by making it easy — even cool — to become a revolutionary. The movement branded itself with hip slogans and graphics and rock music. Instead of long speeches, Otpor relied on humor and street theater that mocked the regime.[13][14]

During the presidential campaign of September 2000, Otpor launched its "Gotov je" (He's Finished!) and the "Vreme Je!" (It's Time!) campaigns, which would galvanize national discontent with Milošević and eventually result in his defeat. Some students who led Otpor used Serbian translations of Gene Sharp's writings on nonviolent action as a theoretical basis for their campaigns.

Otpor! became one of the defining symbols of the anti-Milošević struggle and his subsequent overthrow. By aiming their activities at the pool of youth abstainers and other disillusioned voters, Otpor contributed to one of the biggest turnouts ever for the September 24, 2000 federal presidential elections with voters turnout of more than 4,77 million or 72% of total electorate.[15]

Persuading a large number of the traditional electorate to abandon Milošević was another one of the areas where the smear-proof Otpor! played a key role. Milošević had in the past succeeded in persuading the public that his political opponents were traitors working for foreign interests, but in the case of Otpor!, the tactic largely backfired, as the beatings and imprisonments of their members during the summer of 2000 only further cemented the decision to vote against the regime in many voters' minds.

Strategy and tactics

Principles of the movement

Otpor operated on the basis of three principles: unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline.[16]

It used the following ten strategies to achieve success:

  1. Take an offensive approach
  2. Understanding the concept "power in numbers" [17]
  3. Developing a superior communication strategy[18]
  4. Creating the perception of a successful movement[19]
  5. Investing in the skills and knowledge of activists [20]
  6. Cultivating external support [21]
  7. Inducing security force defections [22]
  8. Resisting oppression[23][24]
    1. By means of decentralized leadership, education, using humor to maintain morale, and supporting members who had been arrested
  9. Using elections to trigger change [25]
  10. Enabling peaceful transition of power[26]

Tactics[27]

Protest and persuasion

  • Public theater and street acts to mock Milosevic
  • Extensive branding by hanging posters and stickers in widely trafficked areas
  • Rallies, marches, and demonstration
  • Electoral politics - campaigning & coalition-building
  • Concerts and cultural celebrations
  • Distribution of anti-Milosevic materials
  • Strategic use of internet, fax, and email to organize and distribute information and volunteers
  • Covert and public communication important community leaders to cultivate allies
  • Public statements, press releases, petitions, and speeches
  • Distribution of training manuals, frequent workshops for activists

Noncooperation

  • Boycotts and strikes by students, artists, actors, and business owners
  • General strikes
  • Defection of both security forces and members of the media
  • Organization that occurred outside the electoral system
  • Election monitors and well-organized election results reporting system

Nonviolent Intervention

  • Blockades of highways in order to debilitate the economy and show the regime the people's power
  • Occupation of key public buildings, occasional nonviolent invasions of said buildings
  • Bulldozers moving aside police barricades

Examples of specific campaigns

Humor was the basis of Otpor's anti-regime campaigns; it used irony to provoke the regime and motivate Serbians to join the movement. The following are specific campaigns designed by Otpor in 1998-2000[28]

A Dinar for Change: Otpor activists painted Milosevic's face on a barrel and set up in front of the Belgrade National Theater, asking passersby to pay one dinar to hit the portrait. The activists went to the sidelines and watched as the barrel attracted more and more attention. Police eventually arrested the barrel.

Happy Birthday Milosevic: Activists in Nis created this event to "celebrate" Milosevic's party with a cake, a card, gifts, and wishes. More than 2,000 citizens had the opportunity to sign the card, and gifts such as handcuffs, a one-way ticket to the Hague, and a prison uniform were received on his behalf.

The Fist is the Salute: A poster campaign depicting many well-known Serbians raising their fists in opposition to the Milosevic regime. Over 50,000 copies were distributed. The campaign ended on New Year's with a Santa Claus fist poster.

Resistance, Because I Love Serbia: The most widespread poster campaign with a circulation of 150,000.

This is THE Year: 3,000 people gathered in downtown Belgrade for a New Year's party in January 2000. After a night of celebration, Otpor interrupted the jubilation with pictures of the horrors of the past ten years, telling Serbian they had nothing to celebrate. The people were asked to go home peacefully and to think about how they were going to change their situation.

It's spreading: In Spring 2000, Otpor undertook efforts to spread the movement to rural areas and the nonacademic population.

It's time!: A clock showing five minutes to twelve with the slogan "vreme je!" was used to convince all audiences that they must quickly act.

He's finished!: Otpor's most well-known campaign. Close to the elections, volunteers put up over 1,500,000 "He's finished!" (Gotov je!) stickers on existing posters of Milosevic and all over cities.

Stamp it! and Use it!: Campaigns employed by Otpor after the fall of Milosevic. They were to remind Serbians that they must follow through by defeating Milosevic in the December parliamentary elections, as well.

Post-Milošević

In the immediate months following 5th October Overthrow, Otpor! members were suddenly the widely praised heroes throughout FR Yugoslavia as well as in the eyes of Western governments. The clenched fist logo became the instant seal of approval in Serbia, appearing just about everywhere. From the wide range of local celebrities and public figures seeking positive attention by wearing Otpor! T-shirts, to Partizan basketball club painting the Otpor! logo in the center circle for their FIBA Suproleague game, the clenched fist was omnipresent. This wide-spread popularity inspired even some individuals tied to the former regime to become involved with the DOS authorities by praising Otpor! and its activities.

The pop-culture component of Otpor's activities became especially pronounced in this period. On 16 November, little over a month after the overthrow, Otpor! received the Free Your Mind award at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards.[29] Activists Milja Jovanović and Branko Ilić were on hand in Stockholm to accept the award presented to them by French actor Jean Reno. Back home couple of days later, FR Yugoslavia's foreign minister Goran Svilanović held a reception for Otpor's delegation consisting of Milja Jovanović, Ivan Andrić, and Nenad Konstantinović in order to congratulate them on the MTV award.[30] Then, in early December, famous Serbian singer-songwriter Đorđe Balašević held a concert in Belgrade's National Theater specifically for and in praise of Otpor! members, which was televised nationally on RTS2.[31] The movement even turned to concert promotion itself, organizing several Laibach gigs in Belgrade.[32]

In the midst of all the praise and adulation, the movement promised to keep on. Otpor! initially attempted to establish itself in the "watch dog" role after the revolution by launching campaigns holding the new government accountable, pressing for democratic reforms, and fighting corruption. It started weeks after the revolution with "Samo vas gledamo" (We're Watching You) campaign, sending the message of accountability to new authorities.[33] In parallel, by November 2000, with the upcoming December 2000 parliamentary elections, launched two campaigns named "Overi" (Verify It) and "Upotrebi ga" (Use It). Though some already questioned the movement's raison d'être,[34] the idea behind both was to encourage the electorate to "verify" the October 5th revolution by voting against the parties that were part of the regime - the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) - at the upcoming constituent republic-level parliamentary election.

In 2001, the corruption monitoring becoming the new focus with several new anti-corruption campaigns started (Bez anestezije, etc.), but it was clear that Otpor! experienced problems staying relevant on the transformed political scene of Serbia and FR Yugoslavia.

Otpor boasted tremendous leverage in the months following Milosevic's resignation, but failed to focus it into permanent political or social structure in the new transitional and more democratic reality of Serbia. An intensely heterogeneous movement of leftists and conservatives, monarchists and republicans, nationalists and cosmopolitans, after Milosevic's departure, Otpor had lost the most important glue that bound it together. It was unclear whether the movement should continue as a watch-dog political party or just dissolve after its 2000 triumph. When three years later Otpor eventually emerged as a political party, it failed to resonate with voters and received less than 2 percent of the national vote.[35]

Revelation of the U.S. involvement

Information started appearing about substantial outside assistance Otpor received leading up to the revolution. Otpor was a recipient of substantial funds from U.S. government-affiliated organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency for International Development (USAID).[36]

In a November 2000 article from the New York Times Magazine, Times journalist Roger Cohen talked to various officials from US based organizations about the extent of American assistance received by Otpor. Paul B. McCarthy from the Washington-based NED stated that Otpor received the majority of US$3 million spent by NED in Serbia from September 1998 until October 2000. At the same time, McCarthy himself held a series of meetings with Otpor's leaders in Podgorica, as well as Szeged and Budapest.[36]

Just how much of the US resources appropriated in the year 2000 by USAID, for democracy and governance, which included support to groups that worked to bring an end to the Milošević era through peaceful, democratic means, went to Otpor is not clear. Donald L. Pressley, the assistant administrator at USAID said that several hundred thousand dollars were given to Otpor directly for "demonstration-support material, like T-shirts and stickers".[36]

Daniel Calingaert, an official with IRI, said Otpor received "some of the US$1.8 million" his institute spent in the country throughout 2000, but didnt specify the concrete figures. He also said he met Otpor leaders "seven to ten times" in Montenegro (then Yugoslavia), and Hungary, beginning in October 1999.[36]

Transformation into a political party

Though Otpor's transformation into a political party had been a forgone conclusion for a while,[37][38][39] the announcement was finally made on 19 November 2003, days after the parliamentary elections had been called for 23 December.[40] Trying to hold onto the credos from their activist days, the party didn't have an official leader. However, behind the scenes things were run by cousins Slobodan Homen and Nenad Konstantinović, both of whom were at Otpor! from day one, but mostly kept in the background. Asked about the new party's finances in November 2003, Konstantinović said it was funded by domestic Serbian companies.[41]

Otpor! started its election campaign on Saturday, 29 November 2003 by submitting its 250-person candidate list.[42] Though it didn't have an official leader like most other candidate lists, the first name on it was University of Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences professor and anti-corruption campaigner Čedomir Čupić who described it as a "combination of youth and experience, knowledge and virtue". In addition to former Otpor! activists such as Slobodan Homen, Nenad Konstantinović, Ivan Marović, Predrag Lečić, Stanko Lazendić, and Srđan Milivojević, the candidate list featured established professionals in other arenas such as political analyst Dušan Janjić, psychologist Žarko Trebješanin, lawyer Boža Pelević, and former Serbian Supreme Court vice-president Zoran Ivošević.[43]

The candidate list of "Otpor—Freedom, Solidarity and Justice" led by Čupić did poorly, with only 62,116 votes (1.6% of total vote) in the 2003 Serbian parliamentary election, which left it out of the parliament (census required a minimum of 5%).

By spring 2004, in the aftermath of the election fiasco, the organization faced more turmoil when Branimir Nikolić, prominent activist from Otpor's Subotica chapter, publicly accused the party central, namely Homen and Konstantinović, of embezzling the foreign funds that were poured into the organization over the years.[44] Soon after, another member of Otpor!, Zoran Matović, joined Nikolić's accusations, claiming that out of the €2.1 million that came into the organization during 2001 and 2002, more than half went missing while adding that Homen and Konstantinović should be asked where that money went.[45][46] Responding to the accusations in both instances, Homen announced his intention to sue both Nikolić and Matović.

By late April 2004, the issue once again played out in the media when Nikolić repeated his previous statements, accusing Homen and Konstantinović of pocketing the money from foreign donors. This time the accusations resulted in a vicious round of name calling in the press between Nikolić and Homen.[47]

End

In early September 2004, amid internal turmoil, Otpor! merged into the Democratic Party led by Boris Tadić.

Although the official Otpor! line was that the organization's motivation for doing so is stopping the continual fragmentation of the Serbian political scene which "leads to voter confusion and enables the strengthening of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS)", the accusations of embezzlement from certain former members persisted.[48]

The observer reaction in Serbia to the dissolution of Otpor! ranged according to political bias. Some talked of Otpor's "ideologically heterogeneous membership that in addition to progressives also contained those well infected with Milošević's war propaganda", seeing the organization's eventual demise in the post-Milošević period as the victory of the latter over the former,[49] while others saw Otpor's failure in the political arena to be be caused by its inability to disassociate itself from foreign aid that continued to pour in even after the revolution, which ultimately tarnished the organization's reputation.[50]

Commemorative reunions and usage of Otpor! symbols

In the years since the organization's end, Otpor's symbols and imagery occasionally reappeared in Serbian political life. Some of the former Otpor! activists also organized a few official commemorative gatherings.

In April 2008, during the election campaign ahead of the parliamentary election, the clenched fist was stenciled on several walls in Novi Sad.[51] This led to an announcement of Otpor's reactivation by its former activist Nenad Šeguljev,[52][53] however nothing ever came of it.

Later that year on 13 November, Serbian president Boris Tadić (now in his second term), held a reception to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Otpor's founding.[54] Former activists Srđa Popović, Slobodan Đinović, Slobodan Homen, Nenad Konstantinović, Dejan Ranđić, Ivan Andrić, Andreja Stamenković, Milja Jovanović, Branko Ilić, Srđan Milivojević, Jovan Ratković, Predrag Lečić, Vlada Pavlov, Stanko Lazendić, Miloš Gagić, and Siniša Šikman were on hand at the presidential palace at Andrićev Venac,[55] giving Tadic an old Otpor! poster from the year 2000 as a gift.[56] Tadić underscored Otpor's "important role in the democratization of Serbia".[57] The next day, in Stari dvor, the exhibition of Otpor's materials was opened with Belgrade mayor Dragan Đilas saluting the former movement for "the courage shown in the fight for democratic changes and thus enabling others to live in a normal country".[58]

In July 2011, posters with clenched fist and a message "Pruži Otpor svakoj lošoj vlasti" (Resist all bad authorities) appeared all over the city of Bor, protesting the local authorities' decision to build a roundabout.[59]

In October 2011, the Democratic Party (DS) official web site (ds.org.rs) was taken down by unknown hackers who left the Otpor! logo on the site.[60]

Otpor! leaders after Otpor!

Though its members often proudly talked of the movement's "horizontal command hierarchy" and its lack of established leadership structure,[61] Otpor still exhibited a top-down organizational model with several members from its Belgrade central office clearly asserting themselves as the main decision makers within the movement.[62][63] For most of them, their involvement in Otpor! served as a career springboard into other arenas, primarily the Serbian political, business, and NGO scenes where they went on to achieve significant success and prominence.

Srđa Popović and Ivan Marović

In terms of media exposure, Srđa Popović is Otpor's best known member. Outgoing, extroverted, and media savvy with decent command of the English language, he features prominently in various Western television news items and documentaries about the movement such as PBS' Bringing Down A Dictator as well as numerous international print and Internet media pieces about the direct and indirect influence of former Otpor members on various post-2000 revolutions around the globe.[64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71]

Shortly after the 5th October 2000 revolution, he left Otpor! to pursue a political career in Serbia, becoming a Democratic Party (DS) MP in the Serbian assembly as well as an environmental adviser to prime minister Zoran Đinđić.[72] In essence, it was 27-year-old Popović's return to the DS since he was active in the party's youth wing since the early 1990s.

During the summer 2003, along with several other DS MPs, Popović was implicated in the so-called "Bodrum affair" - a political scandal that occurred in Serbian parliament when it was discovered that DS MPs severely violated the parliamentary statute by using the voting card belonging to another DS MP Neda Arnerić (who was on vacation in Bodrum, Turkey at the time) to enter a vote on her behalf despite her not being physically present during the vote for the new National Bank of Serbia governor.[73] The public scandal soon erupted with opposition party G17+ being the most vociferious in its criticism of the DS and even presenting evidence such as a video recording of the vote. During one of G17+ press conferences, Popović got singled out by the G17+ spokesperson Ksenija Milivojević. As the issue got investigated[74] and as it eventually went before courts, Popović avoided persecution, however two of his party colleagues - DS MPs Alen Selimović and Vojislav Janković - ended up getting charged by the public persecutor in December 2004.[75] In 2006, the municipal court conditionally sentenced Selimović to 14 months, but the sentence got overturned at the district court a year later. The case was re-tried at the district court and this time the original 14-month sentence for Selimović was upheld.[76] Several years later, Ksenija Milivojević left the G17+ party and joined DS, becoming an adviser to Serbian deputy prime minister Božidar Đelić, a position where she worked alongside Popović.[77]

Simultaneous to his political engagement, Popović, together with former colleagues from Otpor! Predrag Lečić and Andreja Stamenković, founded the environmental non-governmental organization named Green Fist.[78] Conceptualized as an "ecological movement", it attempted to transfer some of Otpor's mass appeal into environmental issues by using similar imagery, but soon folded.

In 2003, Popović, with another prominent former Otpor! member Slobodan Đinović, co-founded Centre for Applied Non Violent Actions and Strategies, (CANVAS), an organization focused on the use of nonviolent conflict to promote human rights and democracy, and eventually quit actively participating in Serbian politics.

In 2006, Popović and two of his former Otpor! colleagues, now CANVAS members - Slobodan Đinović and Andrej Milivojević - authored a book called Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points, a how-to guide to nonviolent struggle, which can be can be downloaded for free in six languages from their website.[79] A how-to guide of sorts, the book's publishing was financed with a grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an organization founded and funded by the U.S. Congress.[80] The book has been downloaded some 20,000 times in the Middle East, mostly by Iranians.[81] Due to their involvement in regime changes all around the globe, CANVAS has been labeled "Academy of Revolution" while Popović and others involved in the organization have been referred to by various media outlets as "professors of revolution",[82] "revolution consultants",[83] "professional revolutionaries", and "revolution exporters".[84]

In 2007 Popović became adviser to Serbian deputy prime minister Božidar Đelić.

Today, in addition to their revolution-consulting and training activities through CANVAS that according to one report take up a third of their year,[85] Popović is active on the speaking engagement circuit throughout various Western countries where they're frequently hired by universities, institutes, and think-tanks to give lectures and hold workshops on strategy and organization of nonviolent struggle.[86] Since 2008. Popović and Đinović have also launched CANVAS-related graduate program in cooperation with University of Belgrade's Faculty of Political Science.[87]

Popović additionally heads the Ecotopia fund,[88] the non-profit organization dealing with the environmental issues, financially backed by various Serbian governmental institutions as well as the private sector. In 2009, the fund organized a wide environmental campaign featuring well-known Serbian actors and media personalities with television spots and newspaper ads.[89] On top of that Popović is a board member of International Communications Partners, a media and PR consulting company.[90]

In addition to Popović, Ivan Marović is another Otpor! activist with significant media presence, both before and after Milošević fell. During the movement's activist days leading up to the overthrow, his appearances in the anti-regime Serbian media were in the capacity of one of the movement's spokespeople.[91][92]

He stayed at Otpor! even after the transformation into the political party and was its MP candidate at the December 2003 parliamentary election. In the years since the creation of CANVAS he got involved with that organization in some capacity[93] and also became active on the speaking engagement circuit, mostly in the Unites States,[94] where like Popović he gives lectures on his experiences from Otpor! days. Additionally, Marović is one of the designers behind A Force More Powerful and People Power: The Game of Civil Resistance, video games that promote nonviolent struggle as a political tool. During mid 2000s he moved to the United States where in 2007 he got his masters degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. In the late 2000s he came back to Serbia. Since the mid 2000s, he maintains a blog on B92.net, the website of B92, Serbian commercial television network with national coverage.

Slobodan Homen and Nenad Konstantinović

Unlike Popović and Marović, Slobodan Homen mostly kept behind the scenes while at Otpor!. Born to affluent parents - prominent Belgrade lawyers Borivoje Homen and Dušanka Subotić - before becoming one of Otpor's founding members, he was the president of the University of Belgrade's student organization called Student Parliament during his days studying law. Described by sources quoted in the Serbian media[95] as Otpor's "alpha and omega" during the movement's heyday in the spring and summer of 2000, Homen (then widely known within the movement by his nickname Cole), along with his first cousin Nenad Konstantinović (nicknamed Neca), handled everything from money to transportation. Homen was also the main point of contact for the foreign-based organizations that donated significant funds to Otpor!. Even the Otpor's very headquarters, an apartment in Knez Mihailova Street above Grčka Kraljica restaurant (where the movement moved in during fall 1999) was owned by Homen's family. Some accused Homen of an obvious conflict of interest in this situation after allegations appeared that his family actually rented out the space to Otpor!, which was paying for it with the money from the incoming donations.[96]

After Milošević's overthrow, Homen and Konstantinović were of the opinion that Otpor! should evolve into a political party, which put them at odds with some of the movement's other activists. The two eventually got their way in 2003, but did poorly at the parliamentary elections later that year. Simultaneously, Homen and his family were involved in various high profile real-estate business ventures in the city of Belgrade, some of which raised controversy.[97]

After Otpor! merged into the Democratic Party, Homen set about building a political career there. In 2008, he became state secretary in the Serbian Ministry of Justice working under cabinet minister Snežana Malović, within the government of prime minister Mirko Cvetković. He quickly profiled himself as an energetic and tough-talking government official. Following the 10 October 2010 mass rioting by the right-wing groups in protest of the gay pride parade that was held earlier that day under heavy security in Belgrade, standing in front of the Democratic Party headquarters that were attacked by the rioters, Homen went on state-television airwaves, delivering a threatening message to the "hooligans" as he called them. Speaking to a reporter, Homen said: "I can guarantee you that they'll remember this day because the state's response to this will be chilling".[98] In March 2011, Homen was named the Serbian government's PR coordinator.[99]

Konstantinović,[100] another Otpor! founding member and Homen's close relative also went on to a notable career within the Democratic Party (DS).[101] He's the president of the Serbian parliamentary administrative board as well as a high-ranking official of the ruling coalition that's held power in Serbia since 2008.[102]

Slobodan Đinović

During his Otpor! days, Slobodan Đinović, leader of student organization on Belgrade faculty of machine engineering,[103] as well as an activist said to have good contacts with the International Republican Institute (IRI), founded an NGO called the Center for Political Analysis (CPA).[104] The idea behind the venture was to setup an organization that's ready to become an alternative source for disseminating information in case Milošević moves in to shut down all the non-regime media outlets.[105]

Soon after Milošević fell, Đinović founded Media Works, the first Wi-Fi provider in Serbia. Center for Political Analysis continued for the time being, but eventually folded as Đinović decided to focus more on his budding telecommunications business. In parallel, he was active with CANVAS.

In early 2010, Media Works merged with wired Internet providers Neobee.net (largest Internet provider in the Serbian province of Vojvodina) and SezamPro (ADSL provider) to form Orion Telekom, telecommunications company of which Đinović is CEO.[106] Utilizing a government-issued licence for providing fixed wireless services that Media Works won in 2009, Orion began offering fixed telephony services throughout Serbia using the CDMA method of access in June 2010.[107]

In the documentary film The Revolution Business made by Journeyman Pictures, Srdja Popović claimed Đinović is the main financial backer behind the non-governmental organization CANVAS.[108] Đinović is also the managing board member of the state-owned Ada Ciganlija company, which manages the public grounds of the eponymous river island.[109]

Ivan Andrić and Dejan Ranđić

The creative presence behind many of Otpor's visuals and media campaigns was Ivan Andrić. After the revolution, he left the movement for politics, joining the Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS) and becoming managing board member of the state-owned Belgrade Youth Center. He later joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), becoming its MP. Furthermore, in 2002, with close friend from Otpor! days and Youth Center managing board colleague Dejan Ranđić (who would also later go on to become high-ranking LDP official), Andrić founded the marketing agency Gistro Advertising[110] that has in the years since done prominent product launches and ad campaigns for various clients in Serbia such as government ministries, political parties (including the transformed Otpor!), local municipalities, and state-owned enterprises.[111]

Lasting legacy

Kmara flag

In addition to greatly contributing to Slobodan Milošević's overthrow, Otpor has become the model for similar youth movements around Eastern Europe.[112] MTV granted Otpor the Free Your Mind award in 2000. There were several awarded documentary movies made about the movement, most notable "Making of the revolution" by Eric Van Den Broek and Katarina Rejger (launched on Amnesty International Film Festival in 2001) and "Bringing Down The Dictator" by Steve York, (which has won Peabody Award in 2002), narrated by Martin Sheen, and reportedly seen by more than 23 million of people around the world.[113]

Otpor members were instrumental in inspiring and providing hands-on training to several other civic youth organizations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, including Kmara[114] in the Republic of Georgia (itself partly responsible for the downfall of Eduard Shevardnadze), Pora in Ukraine[115][116] (which was part of the Orange Revolution), Zubr[114] in Belarus (opposing the president Alexander Lukashenko), MJAFT![117] in Albania, Oborona[118] in Russia (opposing the president Vladimir Putin), KelKel [116] in Kyrgyzstan (active in the revolution that brought down the president Askar Akayev), Bolga in Uzbekistan[119] (opposing Islam Karimov) and Nabad-al-Horriye[120] in Lebanon. A similar group of students was present in Venezuela against Hugo Chávez. In 2008, an April 6 Youth Movement was founded Egypt, the group which has facilitated and joined the 2011 Egyptian protests, and took advice from Otpor in the process.[121][122][123]

In 2002, some of former Otpor members, most notably Slobodan Djinovic and Srdja Popović, founded the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). This NGO disseminated the lessons learned from their successful nonviolent struggle through scores of trainings and workshops for pro-democracy activists and others around the world, including Egypt, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua, Eritrea, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Tonga, Burma and Zimbabwe as well as labor, anti-war, and immigration rights activists in the United States.[124]

April 6 Youth Movement logo

In their search for lessons learned from other activist movements, the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt consulted with Otpor members and adopted some of their strategies in their rallying for the 2011 Egyptian revolution.[122]

In interviews, the leaders and consultants of Otpor! have described their involvement in the planning, coordination and implementation of the 2011 "Arab spring" revolutions.[125]

See also

References

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