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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK


World: Europe

Russian troops row settled

Villagers mourn for victims of the Bela Crkva massacre

Nato and Russia say they have settled their dispute over Moscow's role in the peacekeeping force in Kosovo after a weekend of uncertainty.

Kosovo: Special Report
The deal, announced after urgent talks between Russian and Nato officials, could see more Russian troops flying into Kosovo as early as Tuesday.


Robert Parsons in Moscow: "Russia's pride has been badly hurt"
Over the weekend Nato had asked Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria to close their airspace to Russian flights because of the dispute.

"The results of the talks (in Moscow) will allow the effective and fruitful military participation of Russia in K-For," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

It is not yet clear what, if any, changes have been made to the original agreement reached in Helsinki last month.


The BBC's Jonathan Marcus: "Both sides confident the deal will stick"
But Nato said the deal would resolve the difficulties over where the Russians are to be based and exactly how they are to be commanded.


[ image: Russian troops: Under whose command?]
Russian troops: Under whose command?
Moscow had insisted that its troops would only be answerable to its own commanders, but Nato refused to accept this arrangement, predicting that it would lead to the de facto partition of Kosovo into an ethnic Albanian south and a Serbian north.

Russia's eventual K-For contingent is expected to number some 3,600 Russian troops.

Schoolyard funeral


The BBC's John McIntyre: "The biggest organised mass funeral of the war"
In Kosovo itself, hundreds of mourners attended the burial of 65 villagers, believed to have been massacred by Serb forces.

The bodies were being buried in Bela Crkva after examination by British forensic experts gathering evidence for the war crimes indictment against President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his senior subordinates.


[ image: A villager prepares graves for the victims]
A villager prepares graves for the victims
Small trucks and tractor-trailers transported the bodies, wrapped in plastic sheets and covered with the Albanian flag, to the village.

The killings took place the day after the Nato bombing campaign began. Seven of the children were under 10 and the youngest was four years old.

The pathologist's report shows that some of the group had been shot in the back of the head at close range.

Refugee chief in Kosovo

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has arrived in Kosovo at the start of her first visit to the province since the UNHCR resumed operations there on 13 June.

She is accompanying ethnic Albanian refugees returning from a camp in Macedonia.

(Click here to see a map of the refugees' return)

On Friday the refugee agency made an urgent appeal for funds for its resettlement work, saying it only had enough cash to continue operations for another two weeks.

Speaking in Pristina, Ms Ogata said it was critical to continue with efforts to help returning refugees prepare for the onset of the harsh Balkan winter later this year.

Troops welcomed


[ image: Turkish troops were given a warm reception]
Turkish troops were given a warm reception
In Prizren, the first deployment of 130 Turkish peacekeepers has been greeted with wild cheers and dancing by thousands of Kosovo Albanians.

Turkey will eventually contribute 1,000 troops to the Nato-led force.

Their arrival comes as hundreds of gypsies flee the province fearing revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.


John McIntyre reports from Pristina: "Terrible sense of deja vu"
They have been accused of collaborating with Serbian forces in committing serious crimes against Kosovo Albanians before and during Nato's 11-week bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

With tensions remaining high, many gypsies fled to Montenegro under the protection of Spanish soldiers at the weekend. As they left many of their homes and farms were set ablaze.

Around 150,000 gypsies lived in Kosovo before the conflict began.



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