SERBIA IN 2000: A CRUCIAL TACTICAL TOOL
Originally a student movement, Otpor, which means ‘resistance’, turned political after the NATObombings in Serbia in 1998, waging a political campaign against Slobodan Milosevic. Thecampaign eventually led to the intended outcome, and Milosevic stepped down and was laterextradited to The Hague for trial. Otpor’s use of cell phones in their activities was reported by Radio Free Europe (2005) in response to the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. Ukrainianactivists were said to follow a path “already forged by the Serbian youth movement Otpor, whosemembers used coded short-text messaging on cell phones to coordinate their actions” (RadioFree Europe 2005).In the intervie w , Ivan Marovic – a founding member of Otpor and the person responsible forpress and PR during the events in 2000 – unequivocally confirmed the importance of mobilephones in this movement. A particularly interesting aspect that surfaced in the interview was thefact that the Internet played a rather limited role because the Web was slow and not used a lot inSerbia in 2000.
Mobile phones, on the other hand, where very common according to Marovic:“[By] 2000, almost everybody had a mobile”. While the Internet was used for strategiccommunication – news, documents, etc. – the mobile phone was crucial for operational andtactical communication. For example, in order to transport small packages from one place toanother, they would ask bus drivers to deliver them and immediately text or call the receiving party in the other town to pick up the deliveries. Marovic stated that cell phones were crucial forsuch operations.He also cited the use of mobiles when handling tasks in real time was critical. During a long march from Novi Sad to Belgrade in April 2000, the organizers had to coordinate tasks while walking. Food had to be delivered, supplied by volunteers from different towns. They also had toorganize buses for those who could not walk anymore (the distance between the two Serbiancities is 80km). Last but not least, the welcome rally and press releases upon arrival in Belgradeneeded to be prepared and coordinated. Marovic used up three cell phone batteries that night.
The most important [situation] was the march from Novi Sad toBelgrade on April 14th, 2000. That was a demo 100 percent operatedthrough mobile phones
Ivan Marovic 2008
Marovic had feared too many questions about the Internet, only to discover, to his delight, that someone was finally interested inmobile phones. Earlier scholars had interviewed him with a focus on the role of the Internet, which he had little to say about.