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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK

Draskovic interview ignored by state media

Mourning at the funeral of a State TV employee killed in a Nato raid

The state media in Belgrade largely ignored Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic's strong criticisms of his own government.

Kosovo: Special Report
During an interview on Sunday with privately-run Studio B Television, he accused the leadership in Belgrade of lying to the Yugoslav people.

But even if the state media spent no time on the story, Montenegrin radio - in Serbia's sister republic - said the whole of Serbia focused on his remarks.

Mr Draskovic, in marked contrast to most of the rhetoric emanating from Belgrade, called for the deployment in Kosovo of an international force under the UN and disputed claims that "victory" over Nato was imminent.

[ image: Vuk Draskovic: In opposition until recently]
Vuk Draskovic: In opposition until recently
The radio in Montenegro - whose government has taken an anti-Milosevic line - said the interview had elicited a positive reaction.

A radio correspondent said: "As far as it is possible to sound the reaction, it could be said that Mr Draskovic's interpretations of the situation in Serbia have received the support of a considerable majority of the public."

The report added that "the question remains whether Vuk Draskovic spoke in his personal capacity, on behalf of his party or the government of which is deputy prime minister".

The Montenegrin radio report said: "Although it is early for predictions, a fact remains that the suffering people in Serbia want to believe that Draskovic's interview is an indication that the war should begin to be diverted onto a diplomatic course."

Red Cross meeting

In its early afternoon news bulletin, Serbian RTS TV made no mention of the Draskovic interview. It led on Mr Milosevic's meeting with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Cornelio Sommaruga.

[ image: Cornelio Sommaruga: Negotiating Red Cross access to Kosovo]
Cornelio Sommaruga: Negotiating Red Cross access to Kosovo
"In a very open conversation which focused on the great humanitarian problems caused by the Nato bombing of the Yugoslav people, President Milosevic said that the Yugoslav side saw no obstacles to the ICRC representatives and teams carrying out their activities and playing their role throughout our country's territory," the programme said.

"The only obstacle to their engagement is the incessant bombardment of civilian targets," the report continued, showing a long clip of the Yugoslav leader speaking.

The state news agency, Tanjug carried a commentary accusing Western media of "demonising" Serbia to provide "justification for the atrocities Nato is committing in its insane aggression on Yugoslavia".

"All the misinformation on alleged genocide and alleged mass camps and rapes, which Western media said the Serbs had committed against Muslims during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, are being presented almost in the same order of appearance now in reports on the so-called Kosovo crisis, only that now Bosnian Muslims have been replaced by ethnic Albanians.

"Those who fabricate media lies about the Serbs have not even bothered to make fresh scenarios ... they cover developments in Serbia, especially in its southern province of Kosovo, in the worst possible black-and-white tone, and keep blaming the Serbs alone," the agency added.

It said that RTS TV had been "the most successful in disclosing and denying what lies behind the current misleading information" and that this had prompted the bombing of the RTS headquarters in Belgrade.

Disrupted service

Transmission of RTS TV has been interrupted several times since the Friday morning attack on the building.

Raids on the transmitter tower on Mount Avala, south of Belgrade early on Sunday morning, put the broadcaster out of action for almost 12 hours and it went off air again on Monday morning.

RTS TV has shown lengthy footage of people laying flowers and lighting candles in remembrance of those killed in Friday's attack interspersed with shots of a TV transmitter and civil defence and army officers clearing the rubble around the bombed-out building.

Tanjug reported that the bodies of six victims of the attack had been buried at two city cemeteries on Monday in the presence of "their colleagues, relatives, friends and citizens of Belgrade".

"This tragic tally is not final, as the fate of another 10 employees, who were in the building at the moment of the attack, remains unknown," it added.

Monday TV reports on the latest Nato raids led with the destruction of the last remaining bridge over the River Danube in Novi Sad.

Beta said that the "water supply situation in Novi Sad is difficult owing to damage to the pipeline in the immediate vicinity of Zezelj bridge, which was completely destroyed overnight and collapsed into the Danube River".

Nato aircraft were also reported to have hit "civilian targets" in the Pristina area of Kosovo and a Jugopetrol oil industry warehouse in a village near Valjevo in western Serbia.

BBC Monitoring 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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