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Yugoslavia: Expert Surveys Milosevic's Exit Options

Prague, 6 October 2000 (RFE/RL) -- With Russia joining Western nations in recognizing Vojislav Kostunica as the legitimate successor to the Yugoslav presidency, key questions remain unanswered about the future of Slobodan Milosevic.

Following yesterday's strong public uprising against Milosevic's rule, could Milosevic realistically remain in Yugoslavia? If not, how could Milosevic, an indicted war crimes suspect, leave and where would he go?

To analyze Milosevic's options, RFE/RL's Ron Synovitz talks with Paul Beaver, a Balkan analyst and spokesman for Jane's Defence Weekly.

Beaver says in his opinion Milosevic -- fearing for his safety -- will eventually try to leave Serbia.

He says Milosevic would probably first travel to a nearby Balkan country and then fly from there to a country which does not recognize The Hague war crimes tribunal and would not be legally bound to extradite him.

He says one such country would be Kazakhstan:

"He's got two or three business jets that are deployed around the Balkans, ready to pick him up. Some of his cronies have already gone to Greece. I think, however, he'll go further than that. I believe he will go to somewhere like Kazakhstan.

"He's got a limited number of places [where he could go]. There could be a deal struck with either the Russians or the Chinese. Kazakhstan and the [other] Central Asian republics look a good place for him to go, but quite frankly, I don't think there's really any chance of him being anywhere else but out of Serbia. And I think the most likely places are going to be countries which don't have extradition treaties and don't recognize the international criminal tribunal [at The Hague]. So Kazakhstan is good."

Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev told RFE/RL today that he has not received any information indicating Milosevic might be considering Kazakhstan as a country of refuge. He also said, in his opinion, a president should stay in his own country.

Vojislav Kostunica, the successor to the Yugoslav presidency following the protests, has said he would not turn Milosevic over to the UN's Hague tribunal to face indictment as a war crimes suspect. But Milosevic has many enemies in Serbia and Montenegro. And without the allegiance of the police and army, there are legitimate questions about his personal safety.

Beaver says Kazakhstan could be a step toward a more permanent safe haven in China, where he says Milosevic has allegedly transferred money.

"We could see a situation where he has a safe house in Kazakhstan whilst things are put in place in China. Now, it wouldn't be a problem for the Chinese. They don't recognize the [Hague] international tribunal either. So there's a very strong indication that his end will be out of Serbia, into Russia via Kazakhstan or into China via Kazakhstan."

Faced with the possibility Milosevic may soon attempt to flee Yugoslavia, Serbia's neighbors in the Balkans have already taken steps to prevent their territory from being part of an escape route.

In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas says security along Greece's borders and at airports has been tightened to prevent Milosevic from fleeing there or using the country as a transit point.

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov has instructed commanders of his country's air force, army and border police not to allow anyone indicted by The Hague tribunal to pass through Bulgarian territory or its air space.

Romania's Defense Ministry also says it has intensified air surveillance and that unauthorized flights will be stopped.