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|Updated at 3:30 PM
on July 8, 1999
UK Defense Minister visits
Prishtina, July 8, (Kosovapress)
British Defense Minister Robertson briefed journalists today in Prishtina of his short
visit to the region. He emphasized the successful application of the five initial demands
that NATO had made for halting its air campaign against Serb forces. He reportedly felt
what he termed as an "emotional" experience upon crossing into Kosova air space.
He felt "gratitude for what was done," "relief that the brutality of Serb
forces ended," "anger that this should have happened at all in the last two
years of the twentieth century," and "an emerging sense of pride for the
troops," who entered into Kosova.
He emphasized his government“s determination to bring justice to Milosevic, whom he
called a "loser" and hoped that the people of Kosova can forget the past and
focus on the future, a common theme expressed by NATO political leaders and UN officials
alike. Minister Robertson wanted to link what was happening in Kosova to a regional
transformation which seemed to be pinned on the removal of Milosevic and the ability
The French Red Cross assists returnees from Klina and Qubrel
Klinė, July 7, (Kosovapress) On July 7, the French Red Cross distributed food and
non-food commodities to returnees from the villages of Klina and Qubrel, some 50 km
north-west of Prishtina in Kosova. A total 6000 people received a "Colis Poste"
arranged by the French population who generously contributed to the immense needs of the
people of Kosova. Each family also received a portable radio.
"When I first came to the region, I was shocked by destruction in the Drenica
region" explains Didier Rovol, Head of the mission for the French Red Cross.
"People were returning to nothing. No only their houses were destroyed, but
electricity and water were in many cases not available" continuned Rovol.
The French Red Cross monthly ration includes one kilo of sugar, one kilo of rice, one kilo
of pasta, 500 grams of dry fruits, two cans of vegetables, three cans of sardines and two
bars of soup. WFP is complementing this with 10 kilos of flour and one liter of oil.
Most people have now returned to Klina and Qubrel. Many of the population fled their homes
during the fighting and have spent the last three months either hidden in the mountains or
in refugee camps in Albania.
General Mike Jackson Visits Skėnderaj
Skėnderaj, July 7, (Kosovapress) Today at 14:00, a group of high-level KFOR officials,
including General Mike Jackson were welcomed today in Skėnderaj by the inhabitants of the
town. They arrived in armored vehicles accompanied by the Drenica Commander and met at the
command center of the KLA in the area. Shaban Shala welcomed the guests with a history of
A substantive discussion about the incident yesterday followed in which the KLA commander
of the Drenica, Sami Lushtaku was arrested briefly in Gjilan by American KFOR troops.
General Jackson expressed his regrets, saying that KFOR forces must avoid having any
misunderstandings with the KLA.
General Jackson mentioned that until a final solution for Kosova can be found, the
administration will be handled by the United Nations and KFOR. An important step includes
the staging of democratic elections, possibly as early as spring, according the General
The Drenica Commander of the KLA expressed concern over the deployment of Russian troops
in the region. Shaban Shala took the opportunity to mention a number of facts about the
role of Russian mercenaries working with Serb forces in committing crimes in the village
of Rezalla. He added that he could not guarantee the safety of Russian troops if they are
eventually deployed in Drenica because there are plenty of families in the region who have
lose twenty or more family members to Serb and Russian troops.
While discussing the issue, the KFOR commander, General Jackson said that he does not deny
the participation of Russian troops in the war but he added there is a distinction that
must be kept between the actions of Russian individuals and the Russian Government.
"If this was a policy of Russia it would be a very serious problem," noted the
In the end Jackson noted the importance of the agreement between KFOR and the KLA over the
latters demilitarization. Jackson said both sides have a responsibility that will
help establish a normal life to those in Kosova.
Serb dreams to divide Mitrovica thwarted
Mitrovica, July 7, (Kosovapress) Today around 9:30 in the city of Mitrovica, around 25,000
inhabitants demonstrated in the streets. They demanded access to the other side of the
city which has been virtually sealed off to Albanians by Serb paramilitaries and French
KFOR troops who want to prevent an inevitable confrontation.
The bridge which serves as the border between the two sides was the site of a dramatic
face off between Kosovars on one side and so-called civilian Serbs on the other who
threatened with violence any Kosovar attempting to cross the bridge. The Mayor of the
town, Bajram Rexhepi demanded from his fellow inhabitants to be patient concerning the
situation, he asked them to not react to any of the provocations which would come from the
Later in the march, the deputy of the civilian administration of the United Nations,
Martin Garret promised the citizens of Mitrovica that in no way will the partition of
Mitrovica be allowed. Later he pleaded to citizens to not conduct their demonstration
today because of the possibility of an armed confrontation between Serb paramilitaries and
Despite this plea, the inhabitants of Mitrovica conducted their demonstration, refusing to
be bullied by Serb threats of violence.
According to one participant, they wanted to show the whole world that Mitrovica will
never be permitted to be partitioned at any cost. The march passed along the Ibri river
beginning at 10:00 and was conducted peacefully. For the first time since the war ended
formally, the citizens of Mitrovica crossed the bridge and walked along both sides of the
Still no information on the fate of two kidnapped
Albanians in Mitrovica
Mitrovica, July 7, (Kosovapress)
Local officials still do not have any further information on the fate of two Albanians
kidnapped in Mitrovica ten days ago. The two, Bekim Karakashi and Jeton Gėrdofci both
around 30 years of age, were taken at a road block set up by Serb paramilitaries in the
Mitrovica neighborhood of Boshnjakėva.
The mother of Bekim, Qefserja, said they were kidnapped near the hospital when their
"Yugo" was stopped by armed Serbs. The case is just another of a long list of
missing people, unsolved murders and threats made by Serb paramilitaries who never left
Kosova as agreed in the agreement with NATO. It is widely believed that the former Serb
population of Mitrovica has mostly left leaving the city in the hands of Serb
paramilitaries who are reportedly drunk most of the day and spend as much time terrorizing
the remaining elements of the Serb civilian population as Albanians.
Protest for the release of the Albanian prisoners
being held in Serbia (Radio21)
The Association of the Political Prisoners is going to organize tomorrow a protest to urge
the United Nations and international organizations for human rights be engaged for the
release of the Albanian prisoners from prisons within Serbia.
The protest is going to be organized as a march beginning from Grand Hotel in Prishtina
and moving towards the UN Mission headqaurters.
Albanians in Rahovec protest against the deployment
of Russian troops (Radio21)
Albanian population in Rahovec have organized a protest against the deployment of the
Russian troops in Rahovec. There is information that Russian mercenaries were involved in
crimes against Albanian population in this region, together with the Serb paramilitary
troops, Kosova Press reported.
12 War-Crimes Suspects Held by NATO's Police in
Kosova (NY Times)
By CARLOTTA GALL
PRISHTINA, Kosova -- NATO military police have detained a dozen people suspected of war
crimes since NATO arrived in Kosova 25 days ago, the result, officials say, of vigorous
policing and a new determination on the part of the NATO-member countries.
The 12 arrested men have not been indicted by the tribunal and do not appear on the
tribunal's secret list of suspected war criminals, according to Col. Ian Waters, who, as
the provost marshal, is the senior military policeman of NATO's forces in Kosova. He said
the 12 had been investigated and detained by military police where there was prima facie
The men, one Albanian and the others Serb, are all suspected of murder, "murder of a
nature that would give it a classification of its own as a war crime," Waters said.
The suspected crimes took place during the 10 weeks of war before NATO troops arrived in
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague is receiving
much stronger support from NATO forces in Kosova than it has received in Bosnia, a
tribunal spokesman said.
"There is no secret that we are giving maximum support" to the tribunal, Waters
said in an interview Wednesday.
NATO's efforts to apprehend war criminals in Bosnia were particularly lax at the start and
began to improve only after July 1997, when a tribunal spokesman said there was "a
sea change in capitals around the world." Since then there have been 13 arrests by
NATO forces of people indicted by the tribunal in Bosnia.
Kosova is different, not least because those publicly indicted -- the top leadership of
the country, including President Slobodan Milosevic -- are not in Kosova but in Serbia
In Kosova, most of the evidence came from either local witnesses or the military police.
In some cases military police followed up on intelligence, Waters said. "We have
uncovered the evidence, interviewed witnesses and said, 'Yes, this is good evidence,'
" he said.
One of the 12 arrested men has now gone before one of Kosova's new mobile courts,
organized by the U.N. mission, and was ordered held further. "We would wish to
continue their detention and pass their cases on to the U.N. police," Waters said.
The men detained may well be lower-level war criminals than those who have been indicted,
but it is a good start, said Jim Landale, spokesman for the tribunal. Meanwhile the
tribunal is concentrating on establishing evidence to support the five public indictments
of Milosevic and four of his ministers.
What has not been made public is a much longer list of secret indictments. In Kosova only
the tribunal liaison has that list. Waters says his military police can check with that
person or directly with The Hague within minutes in order to detain someone. Each of the
five NATO brigades around Kosova has a liaison officer from the tribunal working with its
The military police have gathered details on about 200 suspected sites of war crimes in
Kosova and have visited and secured almost every one, Waters said.
This close cooperation, and the speed of access to crime sites so soon after the war, has
made the job of the tribunal staff much easier here than in Bosnia, Landale said.
With the tribunal's main suspects out of reach in Serbia, it is the military police who
are likely to be the first to bring war criminals to trial in Kosova. Within two months
the number of police should reach 900, and include French gendarmes and a specialist unit
of Italian carabinieri.
First Kosova refugees fly back from Germany
GREVEN, Germany (Reuters) -- The first Kosova refugees to head home from Germany after the
war in Yugoslavia took off for the province on Thursday.
A flight carrying 160 people who were among some 15,000 to be given refuge in Germany
after NATO launched its attack in March left for the Macedonian capital Skopje from
Muenster-Osnabrueck airport near the Dutch border.
From Skopje, they were expected to continue their journeys back to their homes by road.
International agencies have encouraged refugees to delay their return until mines left by
departed Serb forces have been cleared and peacekeepers have been able to stabilise the
region. But many are keen to make use of the summer to rebuild homes.
Germany criticised some of its west European allies during the conflict for being slow to
accommodate refugees, although like its neighbours it was ready to take in only a small
number of the million or so ethnic Albanians displaced by the fighting.
After giving refuge to some 350,000 refugees from the earlier Bosnian conflict -- more
than the rest of the European Union put together -- the German government was reluctant to
try public patience by admitting a new wave of migrants.
Those refugees returning on Thursday were given 450 marks ($235) each by the German
authorities to help them on their way.
From New York To Kosova (CBS)
His Family Is Proud Of Him - He Says Forgiving The Serbs Will Be Hard
PEJA, Kosova (CBS)
His extended family in Kosova thought he was at home in Cooperstown, N.Y. Actually, he was
just a few miles away, fighting as part of the Kosova Liberation Army. CBS News
Correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports.
Arbour Muriqi, a Manhattan restaurant owner, left his family for the front, with the full
support of his American-born wife.
His father and sisters are glad he fought, now that they know he's safe. "I'm very
proud of him. Of course, I was afraid [for] him," says his sister, Arbresha Muriqi,
"But now I'm proud."
Arbour shows a reporter the remains of the house he was born and grew up in. His father
has already cleaned up some of the rubble. "He comes in every day and spends
hours," says Arbour. "It was really bad before."
His family didn't have time to pack much. "The people who ordered them out gave them
five minutes to leave. People in military uniforms, all different kinds...Serbs. Not all
Serbs are bad, and not all Serbs did this."
Forgiving the Serbs, he says, will be harder than fighting them.
"But never forget what happened, so this will never happen again, to anyone." He
says he'll bring his 3-year-old daughter, Ariana, back here when she's older. But his more
immediate plans -- home to New York, then Disney World.
"I need that too. I want to see lots of happy faces and lots of children running
around, just happy. I've seen enough destruction and misery."
Serb, Albanian families risk all saving each other
By Vincent J. Schodolski Tribune Staff Writer July 4, 1999
DECAN, Kosova -- Dragica Bakic mixes some stale bread with water in a blue plastic tub and
carries it to the garden behind her house at 1 Monastery Street to feed the three small
white sheep that rush eagerly toward her.
The stoic woman of 47 normally whispers in conspiratorial tones as if she fears someone
will hear her. She manages a smile as she watches the sheep prance amid the pear and
The sheep and the chickens she also coddles are among the few things that make Dragica
Bakic smile these days.
Just months ago, the Serbian woman and her 46-year-old husband, Miomir, risked their lives
to bring food, medicine and hope to Raza Isniqi and her family, ethnic Albanian neighbors
who stayed in this small western Kosova town despite the best efforts of Serb soldiers and
paramilitary units to drive local Albanians from their homes.
Now the fortunes of war have changed. The menacing Serb soldiers and police who glared at
the Bakics for helping the Isniqi family are gone. In their place is the Kosova Liberation
Army, the guerrilla force seeking independence for the southern Yugoslav province, and
NATO troops charged with maintaining security for Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
The Bakics fear that irate Kosovar Albanians, returning from refugee camps to burned homes
and looted businesses, will seek revenge on any Serbs they encounter, even if they were
not responsible for any of the war's evils.
So the Bakics seek help from the same Albanian neighbors they aided when Serb forces
swaggered through the streets of Decani.
"I never did anything wrong," said Dragica. "What I hope is that the people
who did not do anything wrong during the war can now live together after the war,"
she said uncertainly. "Who knows?"
The mass movement of hundreds of thousands of refugees back to the ransacked homes in
towns like Decani is just getting under way. The scale and breadth of the repatriation is
sweeping. But whether it will work and someday allow the NATO alliance to extricate U.S.
and other Western troops from Kosova hinges on whether Serbs and ethnic Albanians can
replicate the small acts of kindness and compassion delivered in the darkest days of the
war by decent and honest people like the Bakics and Isniqis.
From most indications, the repatriation won't be easy. Ethnic Albanian refugees returning
from crowded and fetid camps in Albania and Macedonia are angry. The homes they left are
often defaced, destroyed or barely standing. Many want vengeance.
If they strike out at the Bakics, though, they would be blindly punishing those who
sympathize with their plight and who have literally felt their pain.
"They (KLA members) have the right to be with their people and to be in
uniform," said Miomir about the new political realities. He and Dragica say they have
discussed going to stay with his family outside of Kosova for a time but have yet to make
A place of refuge
The Serbian couple's neat little house at 1 Monastery Street is still standing; onions,
beans and cabbage still grow in their back garden and fragrant lilacs, orange tiger lilies
and red roses still bloom in their front yard. But the Bakics don't live there anymore.
Fearful of ethnic Albanian vengeance, the couple first took refuge with the Isniqis, who
were happy to return the kindness the Serbian couple extended to them when the Serbs
occupied this town. But worried about their security and the safety of their old Albanian
friends, the Bakics moved within the stone walls of the Serbian Orthodox Decani Monastery,
a medieval structure built like a fortress.
Lodged behind the white-washed walls of the living quarters, the Bakics can look out
across the rolling green lawn at the 644-year-old church, its pale pink walls and blue
cupola set starkly against the tall pines and poplars that surround it in this lush gorge
of the River Bistrica.
The scholarly monks inside the 14th Century compound provide shelter for the Serbs who
remain in Decani, just as monks took care of local ethnic Albanians when the Serb forces
"We want them all (Serbs and Albanians) to understand that this is their house and we
are their friends," said Abbot Theodosy, the head of the monastery, which was founded
on a spot said to have been selected in the 13th Century by St. Sava, founder of the
Serbian Orthodox Church.
Theodosy, a tall man with piercing blue eyes, large hands and a long beard just starting
to gray, spent part of the war driving the monastery's white Mercedes van ferrying
Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Albanians and Gypsies from hot spots of the Kosova war to safety
behind the monastery's walls. "We wish to show an example of tolerance," he
But animosity and revenge rage as the population of Decani slowly returns.
Each day Dragica makes her way down the road from the monastery to her home. In a way, it
is a trek through history, from the monastery, a repository of the Serbian heritage in
Kosova that is at the core of the war, to the present, the KLA and ubiquitous NATO
soldiers trying to maintain an uneasy peace.
A unit of Italian peacekeepers man a checkpoint directly in front of the Bakics' ransacked
"It's a good thing the (NATO) peace forces have come," Dragica said. "They
should have come sooner. We would have had fewer casualties if they did."
Heaps of clothing are strewn everywhere, and cans, empty bottles and the contents of
cupboards are scattered across the floor in the three rooms of the small house.
The yearlong struggle for survival waged by the Bakics and their ethnic Albanian friends
was a glimmer of human decency amidst a maelstrom of mindless hatred. Their story provides
a lesson for others who must learn to live together in a place transformed first by war
and now by the introduction of tens of thousands of foreign soldiers, a presence that is
likely to last for many years.
A town dominated by ethnic Albanians but long home to a Serb minority, Decani for the last
13 months has been terrorized in turns by Serbian paramilitary forces seeking dominance in
a land they consider sacred to them and by ethnic Albanian fighters determined to win
independence for this province where they are in the majority.
Years of peace
While most of the city's prewar population of 60,000 people fled during the summer of
1998, some 350 determined individuals -- Serbs and Albanians -- remained in the hope of
preserving their homes and the way of life they shared before a firestorm of nationalism
swept through Kosova 10 years ago.
With enmity directed first against ethnic Albanians like the Isniqis and later against
Serbs like the Bakics, both groups felt the sharp sting of ethnic hatred. But in their
effort to survive and persevere, they found they could do so only by helping each other.
Miomir Bakic came to Decani from outside Kosova as a young man nearly 30 years ago. Here
he met Dragica, who was born in Kosova. Together they have lived in this town 27 years.
Both found work with the Yugoslav government, she as a sanitary inspector, he as a tax
inspector. The two never had children and settled into a quiet, routine life during the
decades-long rule of Yugoslavia's powerful postwar leader Josip Broz, better known as
Under the ethnic balancing act that enabled Tito to preside over a relatively stable
communist country in the 1970s, the Bakics had a predictable, relatively comfortable life.
The combination of a well-oiled political machine and the stability provided by a
then-functioning command economy provided the basics. Life was not luxurious, but they had
what they needed.
The couple eventually settled into the small house at 1 Monastery Street, conveniently
located around the corner from a building housing a restaurant and hotel on Decani's main
thoroughfare, Marshal Tito Street.
Now it is a different place. In the three weeks since Serb forces agreed to leave Kosova
and Albanians began to return, someone trashed their house while they were away. Two icons
of St. Michael the Archangel remain intact, one hanging in the room where Dragica used to
sleep and the other near the bed of her husband in the next room. Both show the archangel,
a popular protector of Serbian Orthodox homes, with an avenging sword in one hand and the
scales of justice in the other.
While they do not know for sure who ransacked their house, the Bakics suspect it was the
work of the KLA because they discovered the mess the morning after they moved into the
monastery on June 21.
When Dragica found what had happened, she went to the local KLA commander, Abdul Moshkoli,
and complained. He assured her that it was not the work of his men, but she remains
"There are a lot of people dressed like the KLA, so who knows," she said.
Blame traced to Milosevic
Sitting amidst the rubble in the room where she tossed and turned at night during the
months of fighting in the town and later during the NATO bombing, Dragica recalled the
days before the election of Slobodan Milosevic as president of Yugoslavia and the latest
rise of Serbian nationalism.
"During the old times I had good relations with my neighbors, the Albanians,"
she said. "Nationality did not matter. What matters are good people."
She and her husband blame Milosevic and his policies for the death and destruction in
"If he was not in power, none of this would have happened," she said.
The war initially came to Decani in May of 1998, she recounted, when the first outside
Serbian forces arrived in the town. These were not police or soldiers that the people of
Decani knew, but tough strangers, paramilitary forces who came to deal with the KLA in
particular and the ethnic Albanian population in general.
Shortly after their arrival, in the spring and early summer of that year, the ethnic
Albanians started to leave Decani, first for nearby villages where they felt safer among a
purely ethnic Albanian population. Later, when the Serb forces expanded their attacks
across the Decani area, they headed for refugee camps in Albania and Montenegro. Within a
few weeks, almost the entire Albanian and Serb population was gone.
Reaching out to help
"I felt bad seeing the Albanians go," said Miomir Bakic. "I could not help
all the Albanians, but I could help a few."
Among those few Albanians the Bakics were able to help was Jusuf Gracaferi, a retired
construction engineer who lives in a single-story home at the end of a narrow lane just a
block from 1 Monastery Street.
"He was afraid to go out shopping," said Dragica, quickly adding, "Just as
we are now."
As the Serb campaign in Decani stretched through summer into autumn and winter and then
into another spring, Dragica and Miomir spent many nights huddled in their darkened house,
blackout curtains hanging in the window, moving around only by the light of their
Miomir watched the news, but Dragica shunned it, saying she did not believe what the
Serbian broadcasts were saying. Sometimes they watched movies; they are especially fond of
American gangster films.
During the height of the NATO bombing, Miomir recalled, the state-run television showed
many Serbian films about the Nazi bombings during World War II.
"I don't know for sure why they were showing those films," he said. "Maybe
they needed something to keep morale high."
After nights when Serb forces burned and shelled ethnic Albanian homes, Dragica and Miomir
would get up and leave their house to bring Gracaferi food, medicine and anything else he
needed to get through the months when he was often too afraid to leave his house.
They did the same thing for other friends, including the Isniqis.
"They were afraid of the paramilitary or the police," Dragica said. "That
was the time when they (Serb forces) started burning their houses."
Being a Serb in Decani in those days of 1998 and early 1999 allowed the Bakics freedom of
movement and access to local gossip among Serbs about what was going on.
Armed with what they heard around town, they would tip off their Albanian friends about
the arrival of new paramilitary units and warn them when word of a new offensive surfaced.
Together, or separately, they would make their way up the road leading to the Gracaferi
house, or around the corner to High School Street, where the Isniqis lived, to offer what
help they could.
"He was a very, very good man," Raza Isniqi said of Miomir, recalling the long
months when their Serb friend and his wife risked their own security to help their
And so things went until the middle of June, nearly 12 weeks after NATO began its bombing
campaign in Serbia.
On Wednesday, June 16, the tables turned for Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Decani. That
day, just as the last Serb forces left the area, the KLA moved into the center of town,
taking over that restaurant-hotel near the Bakic home and another house a few blocks away.
According to KLA Cmdr. Moshkoli, the first thing his forces did after deploying was to
raise the Albanian flag and check on the well-being of the ethnic Albanian population.
At that moment, the Bakics went from being the protectors to being the protected.
"We remained in our house for the whole time," said Miomir Bakic, discussing his
reversal of fortune. "We felt afraid, my wife and I. There was no law and
Climate of fear
As the Italian contingent of the NATO forces began to deploy more widely, the Bakics
started to venture out during the day, but they remained fearful of staying home alone at
night. So they turned to their ethnic Albanian friends for help.
For the next three nights, they moved between houses of the Albanians whom they had
protected, coming finally to the doorstep of the Isniqis.
"We were afraid to be alone, honestly," Dragica said as she helped prepare lunch
at the monastery. "I did not want to pay the price for something wrong that other
On June 18 at around 9 p.m., the Bakics made their way through the darkened streets of
Decani, around the corner onto High School Street and into the warm welcome of Raza
"They offered us dinner, but we had already eaten," said Miomir. So the two
families spent the next few hours drinking coffee and talking about the situation in the
In the morning, Dragica and Miomir thanked the Isniqis for their hospitality and, despite
pleas from their hosts to stay, went home.
The Bakics spent two days alone in their house. Sometimes the Italian NATO units deployed
near their home at night, sometimes they went elsewhere. Finally, on June 21, with the KLA
still dominant in their neighborhood, Dragica and Miomir made their way up the hill and
asked Abbot Theodosy to protect them.
Weeks later, they remain there along with about 20 other Serbs and a dozen or more Gypsy
families, people who fear the KLA because they cooperated with the Serb forces when they
ruled in Decani.
The Bakics do not know what their future holds. They want to stay in the town they have
lived in for more than a quarter-century, but they are afraid and uncertain.
Day after day, the NATO forces grow in numbers throughout Kosova. Convoys of troops, tanks
and other armored vehicles clog the narrow roads in and around Decani and the nearby
cities of Pec and Prizren.
Many people, including Abbot Theodosy, welcome the increased strength of NATO in Kosova,
and Albanians and Serbs admit that the Western presence provides the best hope for the
future of the province.
"This is not an Albanian or a Serb country," said the abbot. "This is a
place where they (must) live together."
Abbot Theodosy accepts NATO now as a kind of temporal counterpart to the spiritual
influence and control the monastery has tried to provide both sides in this conflict for
the last year.
"Surely NATO is the only force that can bring peace and law to Kosova," he said.
"It is the only authority with the power to do this. So far the Serbs and Albanians
can't do this on their own because there are these evil seeds among them."
The monastery and NATO can help, but the rest is up to people of goodwill, like the Bakics
and the Isniqis, and even they have their doubts.
"I hope they come back," Dragica said of the Albanians who fled Decani. But she
is not sure about whether the good will that helped her and her Albanian friends survive
the war will endure the tenuous peace.
"After all that has happened," she said, "I will never have a comfortable
life here, or a comfortable house to live in here."
Yugoslav soldier tells of shame, haunting images
By Uli Schmetzer Tribune Foreign Correspondent July 7, 1999
KRALJEVO, Yugoslavia -- Cpl. Radovan Milicevic is still haunted by the memory of Albanian
women with children wandering from village to village in Kosova and the sight of animal
carcasses and torched buildings.
He recalls watching groups move out of a village, then on patrol seeing the same people
camped in the woods. Days later he would see them again, ragged and hungry, dragging
themselves back to their burned-out homes and empty stores.
Three months of fighting in Kosova have left him with bitterness for a government that
sent him on a futile mission to the province, one that resulted in the mass expulsion of
"There were no orders what to do with these wandering people. Our government had no
strategy. We just left them to move about like sheep looking for shelter," Milicevic
A slim man with piercing blue eyes, Milicevic, 41, is a research engineer in private life.
He is among a growing number of Yugoslav soldiers beginning to talk about what they saw
and did in Kosova.
Many are angry over a war they knew they could not win, a sudden withdrawal they could not
understand and a government that keeps telling Serbs that no mass expulsions or atrocities
occurred in Kosova.
Most returning soldiers refuse to give their names to journalists. But the bitterness of
their complaints -- about the sons of the powerful who were not called up for the draft,
corruption in the upper ranks and the realization they were fed official lies -- indicate
growing dissent in the armed forces.
Some soldiers are making their dissatisfaction public. Outside Kraljevo, reservist troops
blocked a highway and a bridge with armored vehicles Monday, demanding more pay and back
wages for their service in Kosova. It was the third such demonstration in this part of
Serbia in a week, staged by disaffected troops such as Milicevic.
They are not alone. Crowds of frustrated civilians are taking to the streets with a
growing boldness. Thousands gathered in the central Serbian town of Uzice on Tuesday,
rallied by the recently returned opposition leader Zoran Djindjic, who called openly for
the ouster of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Thousands more, meanwhile, clashed
with police in the southern town of Leskovac in the second day of protests.
Milicevic's anger stems directly from his war experience on the ground in Kosova. He was
stationed near the city of Pec, in the ethnic Albanian village of Kljna. By the time his
unit arrived, two days before NATO started its bombing campaign, the entire village had
been burned to the ground, presumably by Serbian paramilitary units and police.
"Yes, there was ethnic cleansing, and I saw the evidence during my three months'
service in Kosova. Like many others, I felt sorry and I felt ashamed," the corporal
"I still see these kids and women move toward the Albanian border, then coming back
next day, then heading east, then coming back. We used to give them some of our rations,
but we didn't have much to give ourselves," he said.
Soldiers such as Milicevic insist the Yugoslav army maintained good discipline and a high
sense of professionalism in Kosova, though they admit that in the guerrilla war by the
Kosova Liberation Army, neither side took prisoners.
"The KLA were liquidated or ran away," he said, adding that his unit lost three
men, two to KLA snipers and one to a mine.