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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK


'Serbs are the victims in this war'

Kruna Budimliya with her family at home in West London

By BBC News Online's Hanna Bacon

Kruna Budimlija, a Serb pensioner who has been living in Britain since 1962, feels betrayed by her host country.

The war in Kosovo
Last time she spoke to BBC News Online in March at the height of Nato's bombing campaign in Serbia, she condemned the attacks on her motherland.

Two months on and with the war finally over, her anger if anything has reached a peak.

[ image: Serbs are rushing to flee Kosovo]
Serbs are rushing to flee Kosovo
"Serbs are the victims of this war," she says, from her West London flat where she lives with her husband Stojan.

"They have been blamed for everything - for what happened in Bosnia and Croatia, too. When the Croats kicked out Serbs from Croatia they didn't say anything."

She does not believe reports of atrocities alleged to have been committed against Albanians but says sympathisers of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army would have been legitimate targets.

"I read an article that said Serbs threw a grenade into a room full of children," she said. "I don't believe this. Serbs would never kill children. It is not in their nature."

"I don't believe the stories of the Albanians. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am one-sided but that's how I see it."

Recent TV pictures showing corpses of civilians are not enough to convince her. She blames these deaths on Nato bombs, the same bombs that forced her ailing sister to leave her home in the Serb capital, Belgrade.

Living near the Chinese Embassy that was struck by a stray shell on 7 May, the windows of her sister's flat shattered. She had to move out to north-east Serbia for fear that she would not survive the next attack.

'The world is against us'

Images of Nato troops entering Kosovo has left Mrs Budimlija with an overwhelming sense of bitterness. "You have the feeling all the world is against you and you don't know why," she says.

And she does not believe Nato commanders when they say their mission is to protect all communities in Kosovo. Her mistrust is echoed by Kosovar Serbs themselves, now streaming out of Kosovo in their thousands for fear of Albanian reprisals.

She blames western countries for exacerbating the situation and even manipulating it so that they could have an excuse to "invade" Serbia.

Kosovo ("the cradle of the Serb people") is lost and the two sides will never be reconciled.

"I can't see Serbs living there, harassed by Albanians," she said.

In her view, outside intervention has created even more "hard feelings" between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians. And it is difficult for her not to feel a sense of betrayal after living in the UK for so many years.

"I didn't think it would come to this. I'm disappointed in what happened. I like this country and that hurts even more."

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