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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK


Serb media: Easter under air raids

Patriarch Pavle called for peace

Belgrade's faithful marked Orthodox Easter even as air-raid sirens sounded across the capital on Saturday night warning of Nato strikes on the city - which in the end did not come.

Serbian RTS TV showed the city's cathedral packed with believers for a late-night prayer vigil, held by the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Kosovo: Special Report
Patriarch Pavle's traditional Easter message, read out at services across the country on Sunday, stressed faith in the resurrection as a source of optimism, "even under the ruthless blows of the new order of things, new only by name, but old by cruelty".

"Let the pain and anxiety of these days make way to the light and joy of resurrection of our Lord. Let us never forget that it means also a new beginning, a sure guarantee and steady foundation of our resurrection," the patriarch's Easter message said.

The patriarch's message showed "respect for all just proposals and honourable attempts to resolve the problem in Kosovo and Metohija, and to make possible peace and coexistence for all people living there."

'Addressing Nato aggressors'

State news agency Tanjug said: "Addressing every moral condemnation to the Nato aggressors who have caused widespread death and devastation in Yugoslavia, using the cynical explanation that they want to prevent a humanitarian disaster, Serbian Orthodox Church bishops indicated that violence had brought tragedy to the Serbian people and to all ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija."

Meanwhile, state-run RTS TV broadcast brief footage of the Easter service in Belgrade cathedral during its news bulletins on Sunday. A procession of robed clergy members was shown, accompanied by choral singing.

Military urges churches to play role

The Yugoslav military too used the Easter festival to deliver its own message, urging the church to play its own role in boosting national unity in the face of Nato attacks.


[ image: Serbs crowd to Belgrade's cathedral]
Serbs crowd to Belgrade's cathedral
General Dragoljub Ojdanic, head of the Yugoslav Army's Supreme Command, noted that the Serbian Orthodox Church had offered spiritual and moral support to the people in their struggle against "many occupiers", and the present "extremely dangerous and evil times" should be no exception.

"The members of the army expect the Serbian Orthodox Church to make a strong contribution to the unity and the belief in the justness of defence and patriotism," Ojdanic said in his message to Patriarch Pavle.

"Believing that life will be victorious over death, love over hate, truth over lie, justice over injustice, the Yugoslav Army resolutely stands in defence of the country, successfully fighting the aggression of Nato criminal forces, defending the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and protecting the honour and dignity of its people," the general added.

Propaganda war in English

In a new development in the TV propaganda war, Serbian RTS TV began screening anti-Nato slogans in English and a compilation of Western leaders' quotations cut with shots of bomb explosions and missile launches.

President Clinton, US Secretary of State Albright, Britain' s Robin Cook and Tony Blair were shown saying - in English - that they were most interested in seeking a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Their quotes however are interspersed with shots of Nato weaponry, missile launches, air strikes and explosions in Serbia.


[ image:  ]
Then the TV put up the following full screen English-language slogans: Lighten up Your Minds; Al - LIE -d Forces; Would You Stay At Home While The Hard Rain Is Coming Down?

A US Air Force commander was shown telling reporters, again in English, that Nato's smart weapons always hit their targets. The TV then showed the wreckage of buildings and houses in what it says are civilian areas of Serbian towns.

These specially-made TV sequences are part of Serbian TV's campaign to highlight what it believes is the mendacity and hypocrisy on the part of Western leaders.

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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