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Thursday, April 8, 1999 Published at 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK


World: Europe

Montenegro fears coup

The army has been accused of intimidation

Live coverage

Montenegro is threatening to take action against Yugoslav troops stationed in the republic amid fears of a coup.

Kosovo: Special Report
Montenegro and Serbia are the two remaining republics in federal Yugoslavia but the Montenegrin Government has refused to recognise Belgrade's declaration of a state of war.

The Montenegrin Information Ministry says the Yugoslav military is now trying to draw Montenegro into the conflict with Nato.

On its Web site the Ministry says: "Suspicions are growing that the (Yugoslav) 2nd Army strategy is to involve neutral Montenegro in the conflict with Nato."

Justice Minister Dragan Soc said on Thursday that the Yugoslav army was trying to destabilise Montenegro's government by challenging the civil authorities' powers.

"Their goal is to destabilise Montenegro politically and create an environment which will enable the government to be toppled," he added.

Intimidation and arrests

The Yugoslav army and military police have been engaged in intimidation of foreign and local journalists and, in recent days, have started arresting local people who have not acknowledged call-up papers.

On Thursday, President Milo Djukanovic met the head of the Yugoslav military in the republic to demand an end to the intimidation.


[ image: Thousands of refugees have fled to Montenegro]
Thousands of refugees have fled to Montenegro
Troops in Montenegro are under the ultimate control of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

But the Montenegrin authorities are threatening to order them to stay in their barracks unless those under arrest are released.

Call up

The army has issued thousands of call-up papers over the last two weeks to bolster their regiments during the Nato bombardment.

The letter starts: "Our ancestors heroically and proudly managed to protect our people and our country...now it is your turn to fulfil your patriotic duty."

But Montenegro has told its citizens to ignore the draft and warned men that they risk the sack if they abandon their workplace to report for army duty.

Justice Ministry officials said military police had started to arrest men who refused to accept the mobilisation call.

Mr Soc challenged the army to arrest him, saying: "I would like them to try. It might be very interesting."

Journalists arrested

The army is also directing its attention against the foreign media. Three television teams have been seized by military police over the past 48 hours including reporters from the BBC and Germany's ZDF station.

"At the moment the army is targeting foreign journalists to discourage them from staying in Montenegro,'' Mr Soc said.

''They want to create the impression that they are not safe here and that the civilian authorities cannot protect them."





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