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Group.png Otpor!  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png

Otpor! was a political organisation in Serbia (then part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) from 1998 until 2004 which operated on the basis of three principles: unity, planning, and non-violent discipline.[1]

From protest group to political party

In its initial period from 1998 to 2000, Otpor! began as a civic protest group, eventually turning into a movement, which adopted the Narodni pokret (the People's Movement) title, against the policies of the Serbian authorities that were under the influence of Slobodan Milošević who at the time was President of Serbia and Montenegro. Following Milošević's overthrow in October 2000, Otpor! became a political watchdog organisation monitoring the activities of the post-Milošević period of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition. Finally, during the autumn of 2003, Otpor! briefly became a political party which soon folded due to its failure to pass the 5% threshold needed get any seats in the Serbian parliament.

Founded and best known as an organisation employing non-violent struggle as a course of action against the Milošević-controlled Serbian authorities, Otpor! grew into a civic youth movement whose activity culminated on 5 October 2000 with Milošević's overthrow. In the course of a two-year non-violent struggle against Milošević, Otpor! spread across Serbia, attracting in its heyday more than 70,000 supporters who were credited for their role in the 5 October overthrow.[2]

After the overthrow, Otpor! launched campaigns to hold the new government accountable, pressing for democratic reforms and fighting corruption, as well as insisting on cooperation with the International Criminal Court at the Hague.[3]

Soon after the 2003 elections, Otpor! merged into the Serbian Democratic Party (DS).

Media star

In terms of media exposure, Srđa Popović is Otpor's best known member. He features prominently in Western television news items and documentaries about the movement such as the BAFTA-winning feature documentary "How to Start a Revolution" and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) "Bringing Down A Dictator" as well as numerous international print and Internet media pieces about the direct and indirect influence of former Otpor! members on various post-2000 revolutions around the globe.[4][5][6][7]"Blueprint for a revolution";Financial Times, 18 March 2011</ref>[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Shortly after 5 October 2000 revolution, Srđa Popović left Otpor! to pursue a political career in Serbia, becoming a Democratic Party (DS) MP in the Serbian assembly as well as an environmental adviser to prime minister Zoran Đinđić.[14] In essence, it was 27-year-old Popović's return to the DS since he was active in the party's youth wing since the early 1990s.

Simultaneous to his political engagement, Popović, together with former colleagues from Otpor! Predrag Lečić and Andreja Stamenković, founded the environmental non-governmental organisation Green Fist.[15] Conceptualised as an "ecological movement", it attempted to transfer some of Otpor's mass appeal into environmental issues by using similar imagery, but soon folded.


In 2003, Popović, with another prominent former Otpor! member Slobodan Đinović, co-founded Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, (CANVAS), an organisation focused on the use of nonviolent conflict to promote human rights and democracy, and eventually quit actively participating in Serbian politics. Instead, he started to cooperate with Stratfor, which paid for Popović lectures about CANVAS fomenting colour revolutions also in Iran, Venezuela and Egypt.[16]

In 2006, Popović and two of his former Otpor! colleagues, now CANVAS members - Slobodan Đinović and Andrej Milivojević - authored a book called "Non-violent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points", a how-to guide to nonviolent struggle, which can be downloaded for free in six languages from their website.[17] The book was financed with a grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an organisation founded and funded by the United States Congress[18] The book has been downloaded some 20,000 times in the Middle East, mostly by Iranians.[19] Due to their involvement in regime changes all around the globe, CANVAS has been labelled "Academy of Revolution" while Popović and others involved in the organisation have been referred to by various media outlets as "Professors of Revolution",[20] "revolution consultants",[21] "professional revolutionaries", and "revolution exporters".[22]


In 2007 Popović became adviser to Serbian deputy prime minister Božidar Đelić.

Popović additionally heads the Ecotopia fund,[23] the non-profit organisation dealing with the environmental issues, financially backed by various Serbian governmental institutions as well as the private sector. In 2009, the fund organised a wide environmental campaign featuring well-known Serbian actors and media personalities with television spots and newspaper ads.[24] On top of that Popović is a board member of International Communications Partners, a media and PR consulting company.[25]

Today, in addition to their revolution-consulting and training activities through CANVAS that according to one report take up a third of their year, Popović is active on the speaking engagement circuit throughout various Western countries where they're frequently hired by universities, institutes, and think-tanks to give lectures and hold workshops on strategy and organisation of non-violent struggle.[26] Since 2008. Popović and Đinović have also launched CANVAS-related graduate program in cooperation with University of Belgrade's Faculty of Political Science.[27]

From 2011 to 2012, Popovic was a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Harriman Institute.

In November 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Srdja Popovic as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2011 for inspiring the Arab Spring protesters directly and indirectly and educating activists about non-violent social change in the Middle East.[28]

In February 2012, Srdja Popovic was named to "The Smart List 2012" by Wired UK magazine as one of 50 people who will change the world.[29]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup LeaderArticle29 January 2019Dan Cohen
Max Blumenthal
Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, Guaidó has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilisation in Venezuela


  1. "Interview with Srdjan Milivojevic - A Force More Powerful", 27 November 2000
  2. "The Rise Of Youth Movements In The Post Communist Region", Olena Nikolayenko, Center For Democracy Development, Stanford,19 June 2009
  3. "Resistance studies - University of Goetheborgh" November 2010
  4. "Fantasy Island: Democracy Edition 'Mother Jones'", March/April 2010
  5. "Revolution U 'Foreign Policy'", 16 February 2011
  6. "Exporting Nonviolent Revolution, From Eastern Europe To The Middle East";Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 21 February 2011
  7. "Arab Uprisings, from Serbia";DigitalJournal.com, 8 March 2011
  8. "So you want a revolution...";The Independent, 11 September 2011
  9. "Celebrating 10 years of revolution-Kiyv Post", October 2010
  10. "Blic", 9 December 2010
  11. Leibovitz, Liel, "The Revolutionist", March 2012, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/the-revolutionist/8881/, 30 May 2012
  12. Manea, Octavian and Srdja Popovic, "The Non-Violent Struggle as Asymmetric Warfare: Interview with Srdja Popovic", 26 March 2012, Small Wars Journal, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/nonviolent-struggle-as-asymmetric-warfare-interview-with-srdja-popovic, 30 May 2012
  13. Williams, Emma, "A Velvet Fist", May/June 2012, Intelligent Life Magazine, http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ideas/a-velvet-fist?page=0%2C0, 30 May 2012
  14. "Bringing Down The Dictator" Archived 9 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine.;PBS 2002
  15. "NGO directory" Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe (First printing ed.). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. 2010-02-24. ISBN 9781433105319.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "CSS").
  17. "Reuters: Serbian activist teaches lessons in revolution" Thursday 16 June 2011
  18. "The 50 Habits of Highly Effective Revolutionaries";Reason, 21 September 2006
  19. Wölfl, Adelhaid (10.03.2011) Gewaltloser kampf, 50 entscheidended punkte – Serbiche beratung bei revolutionen, Der Standard
  20. "John Jackson at Huffington Post", April 2011
  21. The Legacy of Otpor;Deutsche Welle, 24 February 2011
  22. Serbia: The Legacy of Otpor | European Journal;Deutsche Welle, 24 February 2011
  23. "Ecotopia"
  24. "Ecotopia campaign"
  25. "International Communications Partners"
  26. "Columbia, SIPA" 5 April 2011
  27. "Can Non-violence Move The Next Century?", Chronicle Of Higher Education, Todd Gitlin, June 2011
  28. "Foreign Policy Magazine: 2011 Top Global Thinkers" Archived 12 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine.;Foreign Policy Magazine, December 2011
  29. "The Smart List 2012"
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