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Yugoslavia: UCK Fighters Begin Demilitarization

Komorane, Serbia; 28 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - The first group of Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) fighters today began handing over their weapons to international peacekeepers (KFOR). Members of the UCK in Komorane, central Kosovo, surrendered hand mortars and other weapons to British troops in accordance with an agreement reached between UCK and KFOR last week. The UCK is to demilitarize within 90 days. NATO's supreme commander, U.S. General Wesley Clark, today said in an interview with a western radio (BBC) aired from London that the UCK commanders were cooperating well with demilitarization although this is still an issue with individual UCK fighters.

Meanwhile, ethnic Albanians who once worked in a radio and television station in Pristina, the Kosovo provincial capital, appear to have taken over the station's operations today. At noon the station began broadcasting in Albanian, leading with an interview with a UCK spokesman. Similarly, ethnic-Albanian former employees of Kosovo's power company began today returning to the company's executive building in Pristina.

Russia continued to build up its contingent of the KFOR in Kosovo. Russian media reported that three transport planes with equipment and troops were to arrive in Kosovo today. A delegation of Russian officials was visiting NATO headquarteers in Belgium to discuss the scope of its KFOR mission.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said today in Moscow that Russia must develop a future strategy "not only for Kosovo but for the whole of Yugoslavia."

Meanwhile, a group of Serbian artists today launched a campaign to reclaim the once-independent Belgrade radio station B92 from government control.

The group said in a statement issued in Belgrade that the station must be returned to those "to whom it belongs." B92 was shut down on the first day of NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia and, a week later, a new management loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic was installed. Subsequently, all employees who refused to work under a new regime were dismissed. The statement demanded their return.

Also today, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called on Serbia to repeal an information law, which, the OSCE said, "declared a war" against independent journalists. OSCE media representative Freimut Duve said in Vienna that the repeal of the law would mark a step toward bringing Serbia into the community of democracies in Europe.

In a separate development, a group of about 50 Serbian intellectuals called today in a statement issued in Belgrade for Milosevic to resign. It also called for punishment of those responsible for atrocities committed in Kosovo so as to "free Serbs from collective guilt." Western correspondents in Belgrade have repeatedly reported that the Serbian public generally refuse to acknowledge any guilt, or even responsibility, for atrocities committed by Serbian security forces in Kosovo. Correspondents say the Serbian public remains generally indifferent to reports on atrocities.