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Monday, April 5, 1999 Published at 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK

World: Europe

Rugova wants bombing to stop

Mr Rugova reportedly called for a political settlement

Moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova has called for an end to the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia, according to Russia.

Kosovo: Special Report
Russia's ambassador to Yugoslavia, Yiriy Kotov, told the Russian ORT television station: "Mr Rugova considers that this problem cannot be resolved by force or by bombing.

"It should be solved politically, by a political process and he is ready to take an active part in this," Mr Ktov said after a meeting with Mr Rugova on Monday,

Serbian TV showed pictures of separate visits by the Russian envoy and by Yugoslavia's deputy premier, Nikola Sainovic to Mr Rugova's house in Pristina.

Nato doubts

On Sunday, Nato said that Mr Rugova was being held under arrest at the house, and has "no freedom of movement".

[ image: TV pictures of a meeting with Mr Milosevic were faked, says Nato]
TV pictures of a meeting with Mr Milosevic were faked, says Nato
Nato also said that Serbian TV pictures of a 1 April meeting between Mr Rugova and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, at the presidential palace in Belgrade, were faked, using pictures up to two years old.

The Russian news agency Tass said Mr Rugova rejected any doubts about his meeting with Mr Milosevic. "This is speculation. I was in Belgrade," it quoted him as saying.

Travel request

Tass added that he has asked to be allowed abroad, to "visit Skopje (Macedonia's capital) and other countries to help change the situation."

"There should be an end to the situation in Kosovo, the bombing should be stopped and monitoring put in," it reported Mr Rugova as saying after the meeting with the Russian envoy.

"I hope this will be discussed on the international level. This is not a question just for me. I am here without my people," he stressed.

Life threatened

Mr Kutov told ORT television the Serbian authorities were not putting Mr Rugova under any pressure: "No, I would say, on the contrary, that he is being helped by the Serbian authorities.

"His life is in real danger ... from the extremists who consider that Rugova has betrayed the interests of the Albanian people by staying on in Pristina."

And according to the Russian envoy, Mr Rugova was in good health: "He feels fine and he talks with confidence. We had quite a long conversation.

Nato officials on Monday declined to speculate further on Mr Rugova's fate.

"I think we are going to have to wait until the end of this conflict in Kosovo to learn all of the facts about Rugova, and therefore I probably should reserve judgment," said Nato spokesman Jamie Shea.

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