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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
Serbia's bulldozer of change
bulldozer in front of parliament
The bulldozer smashed its way into the state TV building
By BBC Monitoring's Mladen Bilic

The mass rallies in Belgrade on 5 October which led to the storming of parliament and the fall of Slobodan Milosevic were boosted by the arrival of thousands of determined protesters from across Serbia.

It has emerged that one group in particular, from the town of Cacak, played a key role in the day's events, and had carefully prepared for it.

Cacak's tough and outspoken mayor, Velimir 'Velja' Ilic, was given the task of spearheading the semi-spontaneous opposition protest.

ILic
Velimir Ilic surrounded by his supporters during the protest outside parliament
Mr Ilic organised a huge convoy of more than 10,000 protesters from Cacak, and personally led them through numerous police road blocks on 5th October.

A TV crew from the Belgrade-based independent production company VIN followed them throughout the day and interviewed local opposition leaders and supporters.

Among the protesters were off-duty members of the police and the army, martial arts experts and professional boxers, according to Mr Ilic.


We are the Cacak boys, bulldozers are our toys

Chant of the Cacak protesters
''We established a team of young professionals, paratroopers from the Yugoslav Army and young policemen, and we coordinated this with the most elite units of the Interior Ministry Police in Belgrade. We even had plainclothes police coordinating with nearby towns," he said.

Mr Ilic and his supporters took a bulldozer with them to help them break through the police blockades.

When they got to Belgrade, they used it to smash their way through the entrance of the Serbian TV building, a critical moment in the day's proceedings.

They spearheaded the storming of the parliament building, leading the crowd as it broke through the police cordon outside.

Once inside the building, he and his supporters were filmed by the Serbian TV crew singing: "We are the Cacak boys, bulldozers are our toys".

'Velja' Ilic now has a new nick-name: they call him 'Bulldozer' Ilic.

He has emerged as one of the most prominent figures in Serbia's uprising, and could yet become one of the most powerful men in the new Serbia.


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18 May 00 | Europe
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