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Kosovo Report: August 2, 1999

2 August 1999, Number 12, Volume 1

BLAST DAMAGES ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL. An explosion damaged a Serbian Orthodox church in the center of Prishtina in the early hours of this morning. KFOR spokesman Stefan Eder said that there were no casualties, and added that KFOR has launched an investigation into the matter. The church is under construction and lies near the university. KFOR officials denounced the bombing of the church as a "cowardly attack" on a place of worship.

UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner visited the site of the explosion and denounced the attack. He demanded an interruption of the "circle of revenge." High-ranking Serbian Orthodox cleric Father Sava denounced the bombing of the church in Prishtina. He added, however, that this attack is not a surprise, as more than 30 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been damaged or destroyed since the deployment of KFOR troops in Kosovo.

Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic accused the UCK and KFOR of "having bombed" the Serbian Orthodox church in Prishtina. The SPO issued a statement saying that "the bombs were laid by Albanian extremists, but they were activated by all members of the international community who directly or indirectly play down these crimes."

GRISLY STATISTICS IN KOSOVO. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in London on 1 August that about 30 people are being killed each week in Kosovo, due to the absence of police and courts. He added that the current situation in Kosovo is difficult, but not catastrophic and that the situation in Kosovo is not out of control. KFOR officials in Prishtina announced that they arrested six Albanians over the weekend. Three of them were charged with abusing a Serb. KFOR also arrested a group of 21 Serbs, who had set up an illegal roadblock about 15 kilometers east of Gjilan. On 1 August Serbian paramilitaries from a village near Kamenica opened fire on a car and injured three Albanians, according to the UCK news agency Kosovapress. Two of those injured are in a critical condition and have been brought to a U.S. hospital near Ferizaj.

SERBS LEAVE VILLAGE NEAR GJILAN. All Serbian inhabitants of the village of Zitinje left Kosovo collectively, according to Reuters. A convoy of about 60 vehicles was escorted by U.S. KFOR soldiers. Reuters added that about 450 Serbs and 150 Albanians lived in that village.

KFOR APPROVES CHECKS ON UCK OFFICIALS. KFOR officials confirmed on 1 August that Russian forces detained Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) commander Agim Ceku on 31 July near Kijeva to confirm his identity. KFOR officials in Prishtina added that this was a "regular and appropriate" procedure. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed accusations and criticism by the UCK about the temporary detention of Ceku. Russian officials said that it was a routine check, while UCK leader Hashim Thaci on 31 July called the incident a "provocation." Meanwhile, UCK leaders Hashim Thaci and Agim Ceku met with NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark, KFOR Commander Sir Mike Jackson and UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner on 1 August. At this meeting both sides discussed the demilitarization of the UCK and concluded that the process is proceeding according to schedule.

DJUKANOVIC IN MOSCOW. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit on 1 August. He said that he will discuss the situation in the region with his Russian hosts and also discuss the redefinition of relations between the republics in the Yugoslav federation. Yugoslav Ambassador to Moscow and Slobodan Milosevic's brother Borislav Milosevic protested against the visit, saying that it was organized without the involvement of the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry.

SERBIAN PROTEST UPDATE. Serbian police faced a confrontation with Serbian citizens in Paracin on 31 July while trying to interrupt the collection of signatures calling for the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. One person was injured in the clashes. Police withdrew after a large number of citizens turned out to protect the opposition action.

Protests for the resignation of Milosevic continued on 1 August in Kragujevac, Valjevo, Leskovac and other Serbian cities. Some opposition representatives announced that they reached agreement about the creation of a provisional government, which will be designed to organize the holding of democratic elections. The opposition groups even agreed that the joint head of the provisional government will be former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic. Alliance for Chance leader Vladan Batic said, however, that there are still disputes about the head of government, but he added that the Alliance for Change favors Avramovic, as he is known to be a competent person, who enjoys support inside Yugoslavia as well as from the international community.

EVENTS OF THIS WEEK Monday, 26 July: The killing of 14 Serbian villagers is preoccupying KFOR and other international officials. KFOR Commander General Sir Mike Jackson and UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner called on the Albanians to help the international community to put an end to violence. The Prishtina- based chairman of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms Pajazit Nushi, stressed the importance of universal human rights.

Tuesday, 27 July: European Commission spokesman Roy Dickinson said that EU experts have visited over 1,300 villages throughout Kosovo. He said that a total of 190,500 houses have been damaged, many of which completely. Some 534 schools are also damaged, of which 189 have been completely destroyed. U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel Berger says that the U.S. will give $500 million in reconstruction aid to Kosovo. He said that "We won the war, but it will be a hollow victory if we lose the peace."

Wednesday, 28 July: Radio Prishtina resumed broadcasting. The program is broadcast under the supervision of the UN Mission in Kosovo and the OSCE. The same day, representatives of 60 countries and 15 international organizations met in Brussels and pledged to give $2.2 billion in reconstruction aid to Kosovo. In Gjakova, 500 women held a protest meeting demanding the release of their men from Serbian prisons.

Thursday, 29 July: The main news of the day was the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Prishtina, where she received a warm welcome from local Albanians. Albright's main message was that: "Your leaders understand that when an ethnic Albanian murders a Serb, he commits a crime against his own cause and against the future of Kosovo." She added that democracy can not be built on revenge and that the Albanians will not receive the support of the world, if they do not show that they are tolerant, but rather take the law into their own hands.

Friday, 30 July: The Sarajevo summit for regional stability comes to an end. U.S. President Bill Clinton explained the purpose of the Balkans Stability Pact: "We want to promote the integration of all the democracies throughout the region and the integration of the region with Europe." Also on Friday, protests continued for the release of Albanians imprisoned in Serbia.

Saturday, 31 July: Members of Russian KFOR troops detain and later release UCK Commander and Chief of the General Staff General Agim Ceku. UCK leader Hashim Thaci said that "this act is in complete contradiction to the demilitarization agreement between the UCK and KFOR. We, the provisional government of Kosovo consider this as a politically motivated move. It confirms our concerns over the participation of Russian troops in KFOR, which we see as a danger to peace and stability in Kosovo." The same day British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Kosovo.