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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 13:13 GMT
Serbia deadlocked over spy chief fate
Former President Milosevic greets Rade Markovic
Rade Markovic (right) was a loyal ally of Mr Milosevic
A row over the head of Serbia's secret service is threatening to paralyse the country's new interim government.

The refusal of Rade Markovic, a staunch ally of former President Slobodan Milosevic, to resign is causing a split in President Vojislav Kostunica's interim cabinet.

For years we have had the feeling that some dark things are happening within the secret service

Natasa Kandic, Belgrade Humanitarian Law Centre
Key members of the government, made up of Milosevic's Socialist Party, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) which backs President Kostunica, and the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), failed to reach agreement on Mr Markovic's future at an emergency meeting on Thursday night.

There have been repeated demands of Mr Markovic's resignation following allegations from human rights groups, that he was involved in a series of politically-related murders.

Political crisis

President Kostunica attended the crisis meeting as did Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, who is expecting to lead the inter-party government until next month's elections.

President Kostunica
President Kostunica's government is deadlocked

The pro-Milosevic Socialists have rejected calls for Mr Markovic's resignation.

But DOS and SPO ministers insist that they will not participate in the work of the government until Mr Markovic resigns.

"Milosevic's Socialist Party does not consider our demand being justified," says Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Spasoje Krunic. "We shall walk out of a government that does not function."

Negotiations continue

Further meetings are planned for Friday to try to end the deadlock.

Nebojsa Covic, the DOS deputy prime minister, said that Mr Kostunica had instructed the government to "continue with talks and find solutions so the work of the cabinet can be unblocked."

Mr Markovic, who has been under intense pressure to resign following Mr Milosevic's departure last month, has denied that his secret service department was involved in politically motivated crimes in Serbia.

Crowds celebrating Kostunica's victory
Many Milosevic allies have been sacked since October's uprising

But the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) says it has documentary evidence that Mr Markovic was behind the killing last year of newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija, a harsh critic of former President Slobodan Milosevic.

Hit men

The HLC claims that Mr Curuvija was under surveillance on the orders of Mr Markovic, but that the undercover agents were withdrawn a few minutes before Mr Curuvija was gunned down.

"For years we have had the feeling that some dark things are happening within the secret service," says Natasa Kandic, the head of HLC. "This is the start of revealing those secrets."

His newspaper the Dnevni Telegraf was banned in 1998 for "spreading fear, panic and defeatism" about possible Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia.

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08 Oct 00 | Europe
Yugoslavia looks to the future
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