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Yugoslavia: Opposition Sets Up Transitional Council

Belgrade, 6 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) has set up an emergency council to oversee a transition to power after a popular uprising yesterday forced the apparent collapse of the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Opposition leader Velimir Ilic said today that the council, in coordination with Vojislav Kostunica -- who the opposition calls Yugoslavia's President-elect -- will prepare a new session of the federal parliament and run the country's vital sectors on a temporary basis. The emergency council is to have representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties in Montenegro. The whereabouts of Milosevic remain unclear. There has been no official statement yet from the armed forces on whether they will back the Kostunica administration.

The Tanjug news agency says the army's top leadership met early today but issued no statement. No troop movements have been reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has arrived in Belgrade this morning. A leading Russian parliamentarian said Ivanov will try to help keep tensions from escalating in the Yugoslav capital. ITAR-TASS quotes Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, as saying that Ivanov's visit will be very short.

Russia, a traditional ally of the Serbs, has been worried by a standoff between Kostunica and Milosevic. Tens of thousands of people trying to persuade Milosevic to leave office are still in the streets of Belgrade today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday reiterated his offer to mediate in the crisis. Putin said he wants Yugoslavia to develop along democratic lines.