Pristina/Belgrade, 6 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - Thousands of protesters in Serbia called for the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic yesterday. Our correspondent says about 20,000 people marched through the southern Serbian town of Leskovac, about 250 km south of Belgrade, last evening to demand change and the resignation of Milosevic. Opposition groups also gathered in Belgrade and other parts of Serbia to voice their dissatisfaction with the government or collect signatures on a petition calling for Milosevic to go. Meanwhile, Russian military officials say a plane carrying Russian paratroopers took off from Russia this morning to join the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
The protest rally was organized by a local television tape editor who started the protest with calls for local political leaders to resign. But as people gathered it became an anti-government rally with many protesters demanding Milosevic step down.
Opposition politicians, the Orthodox Church, trade unions and ordinary people have been calling for Milosevic to resign for the past few weeks after NATO's air campaign devastated the country.
Meanwhile, Vladan Batic, coordinator of the Alliance for Change, said yesterday that Yugoslavia's divided opposition has a chance to unite and form a joint effort to get rid of Milosevic if Vuk Draskovic's party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, comes out firmly for a change of government.
Yugoslav opposition leader Zoran Djindjic is quoted today as predicting that Milosevic will have lost power by the end of this year.
Speaking to Britian's Times and Independent newspapers, Djindjic, the leader of the Democratic Party, said he wants to organize a network of daily street protests in towns and cities across Serbia until Milosevic is forced to step down.
Meanwhile in Moscow yesterday, NATO and Russia said they resolved a dispute that had led the alliance over the weekend to block flights carrying additional Russian troops to Kosovo.
Russia had been seeking changes to an earlier agreement with NATO setting out the scope and role of the Russian deployment in the province.
Officials said Russian forces will be authorized to patrol in parts of the U.S.-, German- and French-controlled sectors of Kosovo. Russia already has 750 troops based at the Pristina airport in the British-controlled sector. Moscow says it wants to send a total of 3,600 troops to participate in the 50,000-strong KFOR mission.