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Official Accuses Milosevic Gov’t

February 1, 2000

PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A top official in Montenegro’s ruling pro-Western party on Tuesday accused the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of arming its supporters in the independence-minded republic.

Andrija Perisic, a member of Montenegro’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, claimed in a statement that Milosevic’s defense authorities have formed a paramilitary unit which is officially included in the Yugoslav forces stationed in Montenegro.

The so-called Seventh Battalion of the Yugoslav military police includes pro-Yugoslav Montenegrins led by Milosevic’s aide, Momir Bulatovic, Perisic claimed. He alleged that top officials in Bulatovic’s Socialist People’s Party have personally organized the unit.

Yugoslav army officials have denied reports about paramilitary units within its ranks.

Montenegro is the smaller republic that makes up Yugoslavia along with Milosevic’s Serbia. Montenegro’s leadership has been making steps toward independence, complaining of international isolation of the country under Milosevic’s autocratic rule.

Many fear another civil war if Montenegro tries to secede from Yugoslavia. The 600,000 Montenegrins are deeply divided on the idea of a joint state with Serbia.

Late last year, Montenegrin police _ loyal to Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic _ and the pro-Milosevic Yugoslav army nearly clashed over who controls the airport in the capital, Podgorica.

Perisic’s statement Tuesday is certain to add to the tensions and fears of possible conflict. He claimed the pro-Milosevic paramilitary unit lately has been ``additionally activated, grown in numbers and additionally armed.″

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