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Mourners filled the streets of Pristina to pay their respects yesterday (epa) 26 January 2006 -- Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian President, Ibrahim Rugova, was buried today in the provincial capital of Pristina.

Thousands of people attended the funeral, including the EU's foreign-policy chief, Javier Solana, and the chief of the UN mission-in-Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen.


Jessen-Petersen said Rugova’s vision would carry on after his death.


"President Rugova has left a void behind him, but he has also left a vision to guide Kosovo forward. It is a vision whose fulfillment he did not live to see, but whose realization will be achieved through the unity and commitment of those who follow him."


Rugova died of cancer on 21 January. He was diagnosed with the illness in August 2005.


Rugova was to head Kosovo's delegation in UN-sponsored status talks that were scheduled to start yesterday in Vienna.


Kosovo politicians have not yet chosen a successor.


(AFP, AP, dpa)

Rugova Visits RFE/RL

Rugova at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters in 1998


IBRAHIM RUGOVA visited RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on December 18, 1998, in order to highlight the oppression of Albanian-language media in Kosovo by the government of then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The Serbian Information Ministry on December 18, 1998 threatened two newspapers in Kosovo with prosecution for allegedly "stirring up terrorism and calling for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order." Serbia passed an information law two months earlier, setting fines for articles perceived to threaten the constitutional order.

Rugova said Serbian authorities have subjected Albanian-language media in the province to years of repression, shutting down some 90 periodicals, barring Albanian-language television programs and banning or jailing local journalists. He said there were two Albanian-language dailies left - "Bujku" and "Koha Ditore" - which continue to function. Rugova also said Serbian forces could, in his words "exterminate Kosovars next spring in a couple of days if they wanted to." He said this is why it is his goal to achieve a negotiated interim political settlement with the help of the international community.

For a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of events in Kosovo, click here.

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