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Yugoslavia: Protests Spread To Milosevic's Hometown

Belgrade, 3 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - The wave of strikes and protests sweeping Yugoslavia today spread to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's hometown. The independent Beta news agency says that about 20,000 protesters joined the strike in Pozarevac, blocking roads and shutting down most public services. Beta said Pozarevac's television station, Duga (Rainbow), was broadcasting opposition calls to continue the general strike. The station had been solidly behind Milosevic, who was born in the town. Independent Yugoslav reports say the country's army chief has arrived on the scene of a pro-opposition strike at Serbia's largest coal mine. General Nebojsa Pavkovic was reported to have arrived at the Kolubara mine during the night and gone into talks with mine and state power officials.

Radio B2-92 and the Beta news agency reported that soldiers and armored vehicles had taken positions around the mine, south of Belgrade.

Thousands of workers at the mine went on strike Friday in support of opposition demands that Milosevic concede defeat in presidential elections.

But Serbian power authorities have warned the strike could lead to massive outages and have pledged to take measures to protect supplies. Milosevic has rejected opposition and Western demands that he concede defeat in last week's presidential election.

In a televised address yesterday, Milosevic instead accused the opposition of being controlled by foreign powers who want to break up what remains of the Yugoslav federation. Milosevic's comments came as opposition supporters launched a campaign of strikes and transport blockades aimed at paralyzing Yugoslavia and forcing Milosevic to accept that he lost the September 24 election to opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that at least 11 opposition supporters had been arrested for alleged "disturbances."

Kostunica has ruled out participating in a run-off vote scheduled for this Sunday. He maintained yesterday that a non-violent revolution was underway that would remove Milosevic from office.

The United States again backed Kostunica's claim to be the next Yugoslav president. The U.S. State Department said Milosevic should be sent to The Hague for trial for war crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo.