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Saturday, April 10, 1999 Published at 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK


Serb media: Nato lies over rapes

Serb TV has been showing pictures of a concert in Belgrade

As religious celebrations to mark the Orthodox Easter weekend began in Yugoslavia, the Serbian media angrily rejected US claims of mass rapes of Kosovo Albanian women.

The Pentagon said on Friday that, according to reports from Kosovo, young women had been herded into a camp near the south-western town of Dakovica, where they were raped by troops.

Kosovo: Special Report
The state news agency Tanjug reported: "Evidently losing ground, the Nato aggressor fabricated another monstrous lie about alleged mass rapes of ethnic Albanian women in Serbia's Kosovo-Metohija, but such a desperate move of Western propaganda, however, was hard to swallow even by some of the United States press.

"It was the Pentagon that fabricated this brand-new lie and exposed its spokesman Kenneth Bacon to the risk of bearing the consequences of deceiving the public and uttering a fabrication about alleged systematic rapes in Yugoslav army camps in Kosovo-Metohija."

Milosevic's Easter message

Belgrade TV and radio broadcast President Slobodan Milosevic's Easter message in its news bulletins on Saturday.

"I wish all citizens of the Orthodox faith a happy Easter, and I wish peace, progress, and happiness to all citizens of Yugoslavia and to our entire nation," Mr Milosevic said.

The TV showed an open air religious concert with church music taking place in central Belgrade on Saturday morning to mark Easter Saturday.

It said tens of thousands of people gathered at Belgrade's Trg Republike Square for the 14th consecutive rally "in protest over a barbaric aggression of Nato criminals that have been bombing Yugoslavia for 18 days now".

Broadcasting 'unaffected'

Despite Nato air strikes on a radio and television transmitter near Pristina, Radio Belgrade and Serbian TV was broadcasting successfully throughout Kosovo on limited frequencies, Tanjug announced.

"Thanks to the quick intervention of expert teams of this media house, Radio Belgrade can now be heard on ultra-shortwave at 93.3 MHz. Despite working under difficult conditions, Radio Pristina can be heard on all the frequencies where it was heard before," Tanjug said.

"TV viewers would be able to receive both pictures and sound," the Yugoslav news agency said, "and therefore obtain information about everything what is happening in our country and abroad".

"The criminal Nato armada, even though it damaged the Goles transmitter of Pristina Television, failed either to suppress the reporting on barbaric attacks by the Western alliance or to prevent the truth from reaching the world," Tanjug commented on the subject.

Human shields

Serbian TV said large numbers of people formed a human shields across bridges in Belgrade and at Grdelica in southern Serbia on Friday night, to protect them against Nato attacks, while in Novi Sad residents formed a human shield on the only remaining bridge linking the city with Petrovardin.

Other protests by "human shields" were shown taking place in the towns of Sabac and Cacak.

The TV showed protesters lining the bridges holding candles and wearing circular 'targets' around their necks.

Some waved national flags and sang patriotic songs.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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