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Milosevic Wins Public Support Through Propaganda Actions

By Paul Watson
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

On the propaganda front, at least, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic scored two big victories Thursday, trotting out three captured U.S. soldiers and meeting with the top Kosovo Albanian politician.

Video of the American soldiers, at least one apparently bruised and bloodied, led state television news bulletins every hour until late afternoon, when Milosevic matched it with another TV coup.

The Yugoslav leader, who normally is pictured sitting stiff and scowling in an armchair, was shown smiling and chatting with ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova in Belgrade, as if the two were old friends.

Amid the relentless pressure of NATO bombings and international outrage in reaction to his “scorched earth” campaign in Kosovo, showing off enemy prisoners and meeting with a political foe made Milosevic’s day.

Rugova, a Paris-educated pacifist, was twice elected president of Kosovo by its ethnic Albanian majority in underground elections Milosevic refused to recognize. Rugova also wants independence for Kosovo, an idea Milosevic rejects.

The two signed a brief statement saying “they are both committed to the political process and that the (Kosovo) problem can be solved successfully, and for a long-lasting period, only by political means,” state-run television reported.

Over the past year, Rugova’s political influence and stature declined as the Kosovo Liberation Army’s guerrilla war did more to advance the independence cause than a decade of Rugova’s peaceful resistance campaign.

Being so friendly with Milosevic on state-run television when much of Kosovo is being cleared of its ethnic Albanian majority isn’t likely to help Rugova’s image among his own people.

Even as Rugova was smiling with Milosevic at the president’s palace in Belgrade, the Yugoslav leader intensified his brutal reign of terror in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, and across the separatist province.

Serbian police, soldiers and paramilitary groups continued to work in teams going door to door.