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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK

World: Europe

Draskovic 'ready to call street protests'

Mr Draskovic said Nato has emerged stronger from its weekend summit

The Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, Vuk Draskovic, has protested furiously at what he says is the military takeover of Belgrade's privately-run television station, Studio B.

Kosovo: Special Report
Mr Draskovic announced the move to foreign journalists in the Yugoslav capital as "anti-democratic", and probably a response to an interview he gave to the station on Sunday, in which he said that international forces under UN auspices should be deployed in Kosovo.

"In the case Mr Milosevic supports this, I am ready to stand up against Mr Milosevic," Mr Draskovic said in an interview with the BBC.

"We will enter the streets and demonstrate against this anti-democratic decision."

Vuk Draskovic:"I'm ready to stand up against Mr Milosevic"
But he said there was no reason for him to resign from the government.

"I believe my party is representing the wishes of the majority of the Serbian people," Mr Draskovic said.

"If they want to have me out of the government, they can do that," he said.

"I didn't join the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to protect the present system. I joined to change the present system."

[ image: Vuk Draskovic: Says will stay in the government]
Vuk Draskovic: Says will stay in the government
In his interview on Sunday, he had said the people of Serbia should be told the truth about the conflict there and criticised the state-run media for its coverage.

He also had strong words for the country's rulers, accusing them of deceiving their people about the war over Kosovo.

Although he did not mention names in the interview, Mr Draskovic directed his comments at "certain forces" and "those who are running the country".

Michael Williams reports: "Unheralded news conference"
Mr Draskovic is a long-standing rival of President Milosevic and the hard-line Serb nationalist politicians who dominate the government.

"The men running this country must tell the people clearly where we stand and with whom we stand, tell them... what will remain of Serbia in 20 days if this dreadful bombing goes on," Mr Draskovic said.

'Ready to grant autonomy'

Although his remarks appear to have been aimed at the Yugoslav and Serbian leadership generally, Mr Draskovic insisted he was not criticising Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Draskovic dismissed as unrealistic the belief that Russia would intervene to help the Serbs overcome Nato, or that the alliance would collapse.

He developed his ideas for a peace plan on Monday, saying that the government would not object to Nato countries supplying troops to a peacekeeping force in Kosovo if that is what the UN decided was appropriate.

Maverick politician

Brian Hanrahan: "Vuk Drascovic joined the government with an important title but limited influence"
Mr Draskovic's comments were seized on by western officials as proof that the air campaign is demoralising Serbian resistance.

However, Mr Draskovic is known as a maverick who often makes provocative remarks in his interviews

As Nato's bombing campaign unites the population behind Mr Milosevic, correspondents say fewer and fewer people are backing Mr Draskovic

The former opposition leader was only recently brought into government so that Serbia and Yugoslavia could present a united front in their conflict with the West.

BBC correspondent in Belgrade Michael Williams says that while Mr Draskovic holds the title deputy prime minister, he has little real authority and whether or not he retains even that may well be decided in the coming hours.

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