Yugoslav deputy prime minister indirectly challenges Milosevic

Ex-opposition leader fears `mad spiral of fratricide'

War In Yugoslavia

April 14, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The most liberal member of the Yugoslav government has sharply attacked the use of Serbian wartime patriotism for ideological and political ends, throwing down an indirect challenge to President Slobodan Milosevic and his nationalist and leftist allies, including Milosevic's wife.

In two extraordinary statements over the last two days, Yugoslavia's Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic has become the only official to condemn both the murder Sunday of an opposition publisher, Slavko Curuvija, and proposals for Yugoslavia to form an alliance with Russia and Belarus.

Draskovic, who was one of the leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1996 and 1997, joined the Milosevic government last year in what his former allies considered an act of opportunism.

"May Slavko Curuvija be the first and last victim of those in Serbia who want to start the mad spiral of fratricide," Draskovic said Monday night on Belgrade television.

Draskovic went further yesterday in attacking the idea of an alliance with Russia and Belarus, which won overwhelming support Monday from the Yugoslav Parliament.

The alliance is strongly supported by the Yugoslav Left Party of Milosevic's powerful wife, Mirjana Markovic, who envisions a new Communist bloc with Yugoslavia at its heart.

Draskovic also attacked the ultranationalistic Radical Party of Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj for bringing its banners and pictures of Seselj to the daily Belgrade rock concerts.

When they did so Monday, the organizers asked them to put down their banners and the rock band, Del Arno, stopped playing until Seselj's followers dispersed.

Draskovic failed to win support for a compromise on Kosovo that might have prevented the NATO bombing. Once the bombing began, however, he has become an effective spokesman for the Serbian cause.

Pub Date: 4/14/99

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