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Sunday, October 10, 1999 Published at 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK


World: Europe

Belgrade demo turns into party



A rally in Belgrade to protest against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic quickly turned into a street party as the country's football team entered next year's European Championship.


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The rally had been organised by opposition pro-democracy parties. But after Yugoslavia drew 2-2 against neighbouring Croatia in a crunch football match, fans went wild in the capital.


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Many set off firecrackers and lit red and yellow flaming torches. Other fired bullets from automatic weapons in celebration.


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Hundreds of fans drove their cars through the streets of Belgrade, blowing their horns and cheering. They were joined by thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who had gathered as part of nightly rallies against the government.


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The mood was distinctly patriotic as the demonstrators mixed with the fans, holding up scarves and chanting "Serbia! Serbia!" and "Slobo Go Away".


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Earlier, the demonstrators and fans had collected in front of a giant video screen in a city square, put up by pro-democracy parties, to watch the game.


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The politically charged match was played in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and Yugoslavia needed just a draw to make it through to next year's Championship.




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