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Thousands of Serbs protest against arrest of Karadzic
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Thousands of Serbs gathered in downtown Belgrade on Tuesday to protest against the arrest and the impending extradition of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The protest rally, organized by the main opposition Serbian Radical Party (SRS), was held at the Republic Square, where a stage was set with the main slogan "Freedom for Serbia" as the background.

Special police were deployed on the streets of Serbia's capital, where over 10,000 demonstrators arrived aboard buses from all parts of Serbia, as well as from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The first to address the rally was one of Karadzic's potential legal advisors Kosta Cavoski.

Also present were SRS officials, New Serbia leader Velimir Ilic, officials of Democratic Party of Serbia, Montenegrin Serb National Party official Andrija Mandic, lawyer Svetozar Vujacic and Karadzic's brother Luka and nephew Dragan.

The 63-year-old Karadzic, who was arrested in Belgrade on July 21, was indicted for genocide during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Posters of Karadzic and other ICTY indictees Ratko Mladic, Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj were exhibited on the stage and were carried by demonstrators, who also sang nationalist songs.

There are also banners condemning Serbian President Boris Tadic.One of the SRS leaders, Aleksandar Vucic, said "Serbia hasn't died, although Boris Tadic and his satraps are killing it."

Due to last week's incidents, after Karadzic's arrest, when a number of reporters were assaulted and injured, police were video-taping and photographing the demonstrators on Tuesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Serbia has warned its citizens to stay clear of the central Belgrade streets Tuesday evening.

The rally was announced as the opposition's protest against oppression by the regime, state policy towards the ICTY and a media witch-hunt against those who express different opinions.

A strong police force provided security around buildings of important state institutions and foreign diplomatic missions.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2008)

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