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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK

World: Europe

Montenegrins rally against Nato

Thousands turned out in support of the federal government

Several thousand Montenegrins took to the streets on Thursday evening to protest against Nato's air attacks on Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
The demonstration in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, was called by the Socialist People's Party - the main Montenegrin opposition party, which wants to maintain ties with Serbia.

Montenegro is the junior partner alongside Serbia in the Yugoslav federation.

Montenegro's pro-Western President, Milo Djukanovic, has distanced himself from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and has tried to preserve Montenegro's neutrality in the conflict with Nato.

Demonstrators: "We won't give up Kosovo"
Groups of young Serbs arrived at a rally in Podgorica's main square, carrying Yugoslav flags and pictures of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

They chanted "We won't give up Kosovo" and other anti-Nato slogans.

BBC Correspondent Michael Voss says the turnout was not as large as the organisers had hoped for.

'Greetings from Milosevic'

[ image: Demonstrators carried pictures of President Milosevic]
Demonstrators carried pictures of President Milosevic
The rally was led by the Yugoslav Federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic - a Montenegrin loyal to President Milosevic.

"I am here to greet you on behalf of Slobodan Milosevic and Serbia," Mr Bulatovic said.

He derided Mr Djukanovic as a "pawn" of the West.

The gathering took place watched by armed police loyal to the Montenegrin government, as well as Yugoslav soldiers controlled by the federal government in Belgrade.

The Montenegrin government had given permission for the rally to go ahead, but had warned that it would not tolerate any violence.

The gathering ended after about an hour, with no violent incidents reported.

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