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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK

World: Europe

Serb TV scorns Russian mission

Muscovites demonstrated on Sunday against the Nato attacks

Click here to watch patriotic images from Belgrade TV.

Yugoslav state media have cast scorn on a Russian peace mission to Belgrade, dismissing the would-be mediators as Western stooges.

Kosovo: Special Report
The three-man mission arrived in the Yugoslav capital on Sunday in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict between Belgrade and Nato.

Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and former Deputy Prime Ministers Boris Nemtsov and Boris Fyodorov earlier met US envoy Richard Holbrooke in Budapest.

[ image: A Moscow woman demonstrates against
A Moscow woman demonstrates against " Nato killers"
On Monday the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov said Moscow would take "additional steps" in a bid to halt Nato's campaign of air strikes, but has given no details so far.

'Scum and trash'

A report on state-controlled Serbian television described the envoys as "scum and trash" who would "betray Serbian interests and their own country".

"While in Moscow and throughout Russia there is increasing bitterness and protests against the barbaric NATO aggression on Yugoslavia, envoys and the worst US mercenaries in Russia are coming to Yugoslavia," said the report.

The envoys met Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic, who said Belgrade was ready to resume talks on Kosovo when Nato stopped bombing, the Russian agency Itar-Tass reported.

Mr Holbrooke had earlier told the Russians of Washington's stand on the Kosovo question.

Mr Gaidar told Russian TV that the US envoy had taken "a position which is quite tough, and with which we do not agree."

There is no word on whether the Russian delegation will be granted an audience with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Despite the lack of progress so far, BBC Correspondent Nicholas Thorpe says Russia has the advantage of a traditional friendship with Serbia when it comes to finding a way out of the crisis.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said Moscow would shortly take "additional steps" in a bid to halt Nato air strikes against Yugoslavia, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

Mr Ivanov did not elaborate, but is due to give a news conference in Moscow later on Monday.

On Friday, Mr Ivanov announced Russia was expelling the Atlantic alliance's envoys from Moscow, and accused Nato of committing "undisguised genocide" against the Yugoslav people.

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