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    INTERNATIONAL OPERATION MIGHT BE NEEDED TO HELP SERBIAN REFUGEES IN KOSOVO

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    MOSCOW, April 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry does not exclude the holding of an international operation for helping the Serbian refugees in Kosovo. Deputy director of the ministry's international cooperation department Vladimir Ruban spoke about it at the news conference in RIA Novosti.

    He reminded the audience that in 1999 (in the period of a sharp aggravation of interethnic relations in Kosovo) Russia, jointly with Switzerland, Austria and Greece, already conducted a similar operation which had the name of Focus. According to his estimates, quite possible that an operation of this kind will be necessary also today when the Kosovo Serbs are subjected to violence on the part of Albanians. (More than 800 people became victims as a result of the attacks of the Albanian extremists in Kosovo. From March 18 to 20 about 3,500 Serbs left their houses.) Vladimir Ruban explained that the forming of such a group and the holding of such an operation are possible, in the first place, with the wish of Serbia and Montenegro and taking into consideration the real needs of that country.

    He said that since March 24, Russia has sent to Belgrade about 200 tons of various cargoes for the Kosovo Serbs by seven planes and a column of lorries. "They have brought the first necessities and equipment for building two camps for refugees for 1,000 people each," he continued.

    Vladimir Ruban also said that at the next stage of the operation Russia will send about a hundred modular pre-fabricated houses for a town with all the necessary infrastructure.

    "With the aim of lowering to the maximum the load on the budget, contacts are being established with Russian commercial structures, some of which have already expressed the desire to allot money for purchasing such houses," he added.

    Srecko Djukic, minister-counsellor of the Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in Russia, who also attended the news conference in RIA Novosti, said that the latest events in Kosovo were the reaction of Albanian terrorists to the situation in the province with regard to the Serbs.

    "These actions were predictable and they happened as a result of the mistakes made by the United Nations and the KFOR in solving the Kosovo crisis," underscored the minister-counsellor.

    According to him, "the international organisations, responsible for settling the situation in Kosovo, did not take into consideration the Belgrade proposals." Though UN Security Council Resolution No. 1244 says that the war in Kosovo stopped in 1999, the events in March this year have demonstrated quite the contrary, Srecko Djukic said.

    The diplomat qualified the Albanians' actions as ethnic cleansings.

    In his opinion, the Kosovo crisis must become a concluding stage in the settlement of the Yugoslav crisis. "Otherwise, the situation will develop in a contrary direction," he believes.

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