On June 25, the government announced the names of new deans at the University of Belgrade. Of thirty deans, sixteen were replaced even though the terms for which they had been elected had not expired. Four of the sixteen themselves resigned in protest against the new law (Marija Bogdanovic, Fedor Zdanski, Ivan Juranic, Zoran Kadelburg). All four had participated in the 1996-97 protests. Of the twelve deans who were removed by the government, at least half had taken part in the 1996-97 protests. None of the replaced deans, however, were members of political parties. By contrast, fifteen of the sixteen newly appointed deans are members of the ruling parties. In addition, Mr. Jagos Puric, the newly appointed rector of the university, was formerly a prominent member of the communist party and is now a member of Mira Markovics Yugoslav Left (JUL).
Prior to the new law, important academic decisions were in the hands of university- and faculty-level councils, at least one-half of the membership of which consisted of professors elected by the staff. Under the new law, most of the power of the councils has passed directly to the deans or to the newly configured university- and faculty-level governing boards. On June 29, the government announced the names of the members of the new managing and supervisory boards of the University of Belgrade and its component faculties. Nearly all of the appointees were members of one of the three ruling parties.
At the University of Belgrade, the university-level managing board has fifteen members: six faculty members, six members from outside the university, and three students, all chosen by the government. The following list of individuals named to the board in June shows the extent to which the university administration is now in the hands of members of the ruling coalition parties and, in many cases, of high-ranking party officials themselves:
· Vojislav Seselj, Serbias deputy prime minister, leader of the SRS;
· Alexandar Vucic, Serbias information minister, member of the SRS;
· Goran Matic, Yugoslav information minister, member of JUL;
· Leposava Milicevic, Serbias health minister, member of JUL;
· Borislav Milacic, Serbias finance minister, member of the SPS;
· Momcilo Babic, director of a state hospital in Belgrade, member of the SPS;
· Jovo Todorovic, Yugoslav education minister, member of the SPS;
· Branislav Ivkovic, Serbias housing minister, member of the SPS;
· Milovan Bojic, Serbias vice-president and a leader of JUL;
· Milivoje Simonovic, a deputy minister of education, close to SPS leaders;
· Tomislav Dragovic, former pro-rector, ties to SPS;
· Ivan Radosavljevic, political science professor, believed to be affiliated with JUL;
· Anja Babic, Drasko Gostiljac, and Igor Obradovic, students, all reportedly linked to JUL or the SPS.11
At the individual faculties, the government has pursued a similar strategy. Each faculty managing board is composed of nine members: four faculty members, two students, and three people from outside the faculty. As with the university-level board, all of the members are appointed by the government. At the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Belgrade, for example, the membership of the managing board includes: Aleksandar Vucic, Yugoslav information minister and a member of the SRS; Vladimir Stanbuk, dean of the Faculty of Political Science, vice-president of the Yugoslav parliament, and a member of JUL; Milos Aleksic, professor of sociology in the Faculty of Pharmacy and a close friend of Mira Markovic, head of JUL; and Milenko Govedarica, a member of the SPS.12
In all, thirty-nine politicians influential in Serbias ruling coalition were named to the managing and supervisory boards of the university and its component faculties, many holding multiple positions. Vojislav Seselj, president of the ultra-nationalist SRS, now sits on the governing boards of the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics as well as the governing board of the university. Another SRS leader, Aleksandar Vucic, now sits on the managing board of the Faculty of Philosophy as well as the university-level board. Goran Percevic, vice-president of the SPS, was named to the governing board of the university. Other influential members of the ruling parties named to one or more governing boards include: Ivan Markovic, Radoman Bozovic, Srdjan Smiljkovic, Goran Trivan, Milos Aleksic, and Zivorad Djordjevic.
Faculty interviewed by Human Rights Watch emphasized that, with few exceptions, the students appointed to the boards by the government are fierce ruling party loyalists. In many cases, the students chosen by the government are students who have remained undergraduates into their late twenties and early thirties.13 At the Faculty of Law, for example, students appointed to the managing board included Miljkan Karlicic, a deputy minister of information, and Vladan Draskovic, appointed by the government in 1998 as head of the formerly independent campus radio station Radio Index. Both Karlicic and Draskovic are over thirty years old and both took part in sealing the premises of radio and magazine publishers that the government had ordered closed in October 1998.
11 This list is based on information in Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Implications of the New University Act, July 1998 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch), p. 2, supplemented by telephone interviews with University of Belgrade faculty members.
13 A detailed analysis of student appointees to university and faculty boards is set forth at: http://www.ups.opennet.org/english/misc.htm