Watching demonstrations is an interesting business. The movement of the crowd and the energy it projects make the heart beat faster. Then there is the collective sound the mass of people make. But the key is always in the faces. Whether the Nazi rallies of the 30s or Slobo's shows of strength in the late 80s and 90s, the mean, pinched faces tend to give away whether this is a mob you want to join, or not.
By contrast, the opposition demos of the mid to late 90s in Belgrade were filled with different kinds of faces. And different kinds of sounds. Candles, whistles, hope and songs, a feeling of resistance, with the violence generated by the other side. A lonely battle indeed in the hope of a better tomorrow.
And so it goes. The latest two demonstrations in Belgrade continue to present a vision of two very different Serbias. The first, on the February 11 would not look out of place in any European capital: a civic procession with peaceful purpose, smiling faces but a serious message, cheerful whistles and drums, good humour and witty posters. A pretty girl kissing a policeman. Good street theatre in a capital city moving forward.
This was a youth demonstration in support of Serbia's integration into Europe, an event backed by more than 70% of Serbia's population and a majority of those who bothered to vote in the presidential elections, despite the Kosovo red herring.
Then there was a second protest on 16 February. Around 1000 people demonstrating for the Kosovo red herring. A small, yet violently vocal group of misfits.
Hardly a good advert for Serbia, many of the demonstrators resembled the fascist wing of Lazio F.C supporters club, letting off flares and scuffling with police.
The footage http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=76338&videoChannel=1 does not do justice to the number of neo-nazis and general ne'er do wells in attendance, but the faces and the sound carry the message just as well.
Looking at this, it is not hard to see why Arkan's einsatzgruppen recruited from the football terraces for operations in Croatia and Bosnia. It is worth reminding everyone that despite the Vojo's wailing, such people remain a distinct minority, both at the ballot box and on the street.
Let us pray for dilligent law enforcement.