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Thirteen New York Times Articles on Kosovo, from 1981 to 1988

[Feb. 26, 2008]

Table of Contents

1. April 20, 1981
Roots Of Yugoslav Riots: Vague 'Enemy' Blamed

2. April 21, 1981 
Sacred Serbian Site Damaged By Blaze

3. April 27, 1981
Yugoslavs, Shaken By Riots, Fear Plot

4. June 14, 1981
Yugoslavia Adds Police In Troubled Albanian Area

5. September 5, 1981
Around the World; Two Provincial Chiefs Resign in Yugoslavia

6. October 18, 1981
Rioting  by Albanian Nationists has Left Scars in Yugoslav Region

7. July 12, 1982
Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia

8. Nov. 9, 1982
Yugoslavs Seek To Quell Strife In Region Of Ethnic Albanians

9. April 28, 1986
In One Yugoslav Province, Serbs Fear The Ethnic Albanians

10. July 27, 1986
Minorities Are Uneasy In Yugoslav Province

11. June 28, 1987
Belgrade Battles Kosovo Serbs

12. Nov. 1, 1987
In Yugoslavia, Rising Ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil Conflict

13. September 23, 1988
70,000 Serbs Vent Anger at Officials

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1. April 20, 1981
Roots Of Yugoslav Riots: Vague 'Enemy' Blamed,

The New York Times, April 20, 1981, Monday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 2, Column 3; Foreign Desk, 1350 words, By Marvine Howe, Special to the New York Times, Pristina, Yugoslavia, April 19

Even in the cold, dreary rain, women of Albanian ancestry with white headscarfs and long floral print skirts or baggy trousers strolled along the main street pausing to admire the window displays of modern dress shops, furniture stores and supermarkets.

There was little evidence that this provincial capital had been the scene two weeks ago of the worst riots in Yugoslavia since World War II. The only signs were a few remaining smashed windows, police on patrol, army guards at public buildings and the nervousness of people when asked about the events.

A state of emergency remains in force but has been relaxed in Kosovo Province, which borders on Albania and has one and a half million inhabitants, most of Albanian ancestry.

A curfew has been lifted, grade school students have gone back to classes, and the university, where the troubles began, is to open tomorrow.
 
Journalists Visit Province

Yesterday and the day before, for the first time since the emergency was proclaimed on April 2, a group of more than 50 foreign correspondents went on an official tour of the province. The journalists were barred, however, from visiting the area on their own.

In interviews, local officials proudly recited the achievements in Kosovo since World War II. They gave an impressive picture of social, economic and political development. Nevertheless, they were unable to provide a convincing explanation for the cause of the rioting or why it was so widespread among the youth who have benefitted most from the postwar developments here.

Nor were the authorities very clear about what they are going to do to prevent a reccurrence of the violence. It was announced that 28 people had been arrested and would be brought to trial at a later date but that ''the enemy'' was still being sought. No one was very precise about who the ''enemy'' was, except to say that it included everyone opposed to Yugoslavia's nonaligned, independent, Communist policies.

The only solutions offered were more political indoctrination, material progress and social improvements. That has been official policy all along, but it has not prevented periodic outbursts of Albanian nationalism.
 
People Hesitant to Talk

The Government reported ''unananimity'' at the provincial level on the handling of the events. It said that there was no question of officials resigning ''as in bourgeois regimes.'' The provincial committee is scheduled to meet soon to make a ''critical assessment'' of the situation.

People of Albanian ancestry questioned by reporters were reluctant to talk about the rioting, which began on March 11 with a student protest over conditions in the university. The unrest erupted again on March 26 and culminated in a major outburst of Albanian nationalism on April 1 and 2. In the end, there were at least nine people dead and 59 seriously injured, according to official sources.

Most of those questioned said they did not want to talk about the rioting, were not around at the time or simply did not know what it was all about. Several in their early 20's asked aggressively whether the journalists had the right to be here asking questions. A university student asked if he could send a letter abroad to tell what happened. They generally looked about anxiously as if fearing to be seen talking with a foreigner.

Serbs, members of the largest ethnic group in Yugoslavia although a minority in Kosovo, were less reluctant to talk about the disturbances but could not explain why they had occurred and were worried that they might break out again. Although Kosovo was the heart of the medieval Serbian kingdom, the 220,000 Serbs in the province are outnumbered by more than a million people of Albanian origin.
 
14th Century Serbian Exodus

The first exodus of Serbs from here took place when the Ottomon Turks invaded Serbia in the 14th century. Modern migrations occurred as Serbs sought a better life in the industrialized north of Yugoslavia.

In recent times, Serbs are said to have been selling their property and leaving because, as one put it, ''We don't feel comfortable with Albanian nationalism.''

''We don't understand what they want because they have more rights than we do,'' a Serbian civil servant in the Kosovo administration complained. ''They have more rights than we do, preference in housing, jobs, even in student hostels.''

The roots of Albanian discontent are not immediately visible to the visitor. The development of Pristina, a modest backwater when the Communists assumed power after World War II, has been spectacular. The skyline of this fast-growing modern capital is dominated by high apartment and office buildings as well as cranes engaged in construction projects.
 
A Palatial New Hotel

Beside the minarets of ancient mosques, rise a palatial new hotel, a social center, a theater, a multidomed library and a vast university, the third largest in the country.

In a three and half hour news conference, Mahmut Bakali, the top Communist Party official in Kosovo, talked about the ''unparalleled results'' achieved in the past 36 years under the leadership of yugoslavia's Communists.

He told of new factories to process the province's mining and agricultural resources and efforts to produce more jobs and housing. Kosovo still has the lowest per capital income in Yugoslavia, about $800. But Mr. Bakali said that this is no reason ''to deny what has been achieved in absolute terms, the creation of an economic base and necessary cadres.'' He predicted that economic growth in the province would be much faster from now on and that the gap with the rest of the country would decrease.

The university has undergone similar growth. Vice Chancellor Ali Turku Siad that it started out in 1970 with 7,661 students, more than half of them Serbians. Today, he said, the university has 47,284 students, nearly three quarters of them of Albanian descent. He said that finding jobs for graduates would be no problem in view of the province's rapid development.
 
Growth May Have Been Too Fast

However, some local officials of Albanian background suggested that the growth in Kosovo had been too fast. They said that people, particularly the young, were suffering cultural shock. ''We thought it was sufficient to give them material progress and education but we have failed to give them an ideology,'' an official said.

The authorities said that old claims of ''Serbian domination'' were unjustified. They said that ethnic Albanians have gained access to key jobs at every level in the provincial administration, the ruling Communist Party and the economy.

''I am an Albanian and I can say we have complete independence except for a few trappings of a state like shooting off a cannon,'' a senior official in the provincial administration remarked. ''We make our own decisions and run things without interference from the republic.''

Mr. Bakali insisted that none of the demonstrators' grievances or claims were justified. He said that ''a handful of hostile elements,'' mainly youngsters of Albanian origin, had incited the crowd with popular slogans and then turned the demonstration into a nationalist incident.

''It was an organized, well-conceived, nonspontaneous action,'' the Communist Party leader asserted. He declined to to identify the ''hostile forces'' behind the demonstration except to repeat what officials in Belgrade have already said, that they included both leftists and rightists from here and abroad.

He said that perhaps the authorities had been at fault for having tolerated these nationalists. But he stressed that the Communist Party has excluded a score of members who took part in the demonstrations.

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only
 

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2. April 21, 1981 
Sacred Serbian Site Damaged By Blaze

The New York Times, April 21, 1981, Tuesday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 9, Column 1; Foreign Desk, 934 words, By Marvine Howe, Special to the New York Times, Pec, Yugoslavia, April 18

Before daybreak on March 16, the Patriarchate of Pec, which had survived invasion and occupation by the Ottoman Turks, was heavily damaged by fire.

A whole wing of the complex was demolished, including the living quarters of the Patriarch, the nun's refectory, a sick ward, a workshop and priceless icons and books. There were no injuries.

Officially, no cause has been given for the fire. The director of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments declined today to provide any information on the possible causes, merely saying that the case was under investigation.

Nevertheless, sources close to the Serbian Orthodox Church, said it was strongly believed that the fire was deliberately set as part of the outbreak of Albanian nationalism last month in Kosovo Province. Serbs, members of the largest ethnic group in Yugoslavia, are outnumbered in the province by people of Albanian descent.
 
Church Windows Vandalized

Several nights before the fire, the round small windows of one of the churches in the Patriarchate complex were smashed by unknown vandals.

The church sources discounted both faulty wiring and carelessness as causes of the fire, which broke out on the tile roof above the Patriarch's quarters at 3:30 A.M. Most of the 24 nuns living in the monastery were asleep. A few, who were in the stable milking cows, raised the alarm.

Firefighters arrived rapidly from Pec, a mile and a half away, but the first truck had no water and the second one broke down along the way.

The nuns then called the police. By that time, a new pocket of fire had broken out in the center of the building, about 40 yards away from the first flames.
 
Nuns Save Books and Icons

At 5 A.M. , a third truck arrived and began to put out the blaze, which had become intense by then. The nuns worked feverishly to evacuate the ill and save the Patriarchate's priceless treasures. Helped by townspeople, including those of Albanian descent, the nuns managed to save most of the ancient manuscripts and religious art.

The blaze lasted more than four hours, spreading to new quarters that were under construction. By that time, a large crowd had gathered at the scene, lamenting the damage to a national monument.

A provincial committee, set up to investigate the causes, has said nothing so far.
 
Symbol of Ancient Serbia

The Patriarchate of Pec, which is no longer the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church but retains the title of Patriarchate, is beloved by Serbs not only as a religious site but also as a symbol of their ancient kingdom.

Standing in a green hollow at the opening of the steep Ru Govska gorge, the Patriarchate complex is made up of four churches, the first built in 1253.

The Serbian Archdiocese was established here at the time the first church was built. In the 14th century, it was raised to the rank of Patriarchate. The monumental frescoes, of rich colors and strong lines, are among the finest European works of art of the time.

After the battle of Kosovo, when Serbia was defeated by the Ottomans in 1389, the Patriarchate was plundered and closed. It was reinstated in the 16th century, becoming a center of political, cultural and religious activity.
 
Patriarchate Moved to Belgrade

As life became more difficult under the Ottoman Turks, the Patriarch, Arsenije Carnojevic, led a group of Serbs across the Danube River to settle in Vojvodina, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Later, the Patriarchate was moved to Belgrade, where it is today.

The Patriarchate of Pec was abolished in 1766, but it was permitted to retain its title. The Patriarch stays at the Patriarchate of Pec when he visits Kosovo.

At the end of the 17th century, the Patriarchate of Pec was left under the protection of the Nikcija, a Moslem Albanian clan that still retains responsibility for it.

Rama Nikcija, who holds the title of Vojvoda, or Duke, and is the current ''protector,'' reportedly appeared in tears at the scene of the fire. His old mother is said to have told him: ''Go, Rama, and help because your father and grandfathers used to give their lives to protect the Patriarchate.''
 
'Still Under Investigation'

The wing that was gutted is still full of building rubble, charred pieces of rugs and bedclothing, a blackened refrigerator, torn and burnt pages of books.

''I cannot tell you the causes of the fire because the case is still under investigation,'' a white-bearded priest told a group of journalists on an official visit to the province. The reporters were the first foreign correspondents to visit the province since a state of emergency was established on April 2.

The priest stressed that the loss in icons and other works of art was ''considerable.'' Some of the rare books were damaged by the fire, others by rain, he said.

The director of the Institute for Protection of Monuments said the religious complex was under the protection of the state and the authorities were responsible for the reconstruction.

Questioned by journalists about insurance, the official said: ''Money could never compensate the real value of these works of art in the Patriarchate.''

He emphasized the need for protection of the Patriarchate. At present, policemen patrol the area every night, but church officials are concerned that this may not be enough.

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only

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3. April 27, 1981
Yugoslavs, Shaken By Riots, Fear Plot

The New York Times, April 27, 1981, Monday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 3, Column 1; Foreign Desk, 1218 words, By Marvine Howe, Special to the New York Times, Belgrade, Yugoslavia

Nearly a month after the rioting in a southern province of Yugoslavia, it is still unclear what the troubles were all about.

It is uncertain whether the incidents, in which at least 9 people were killed and 59 seriously injured, were a spontaneous outburst of nationalist discontent by the ethnic Albanians who make up most of the province's population or a meticulously planned action to undermine the Yugoslav Government.

What is evident from both public and private declarations by key officials is that Belgrade considers the events in Kosovo Province of the utmost gravity and is not very sure what to do to prevent a recurrence.

The official press agency, Tanyug, has reported that the situation has gradually returned to normal. The nighttime curfew has been lifted, factories are operating normally and elementary schools have reopened.
 
Ban on Public Gatherings

Nevertheless, the situation apparently remains unsettled, since army and police reinforcements are still in Kosovo and public gatherings are banned.

According to the official account, the events began March 11, in the university canteen at Pristina, capital of the province, when an unhappy student threw his tray of food on the floor, and they ended three weeks later in violent demonstrations with slogans calling for the establishment of an Albanian republic.

Stane Dolanc, a senior Communist Party official, gave the central Government's response at a news conference earlier this month, declaring that the call for an Albanian republic of Kosovo was ''impossible'' under the Constitution and ''would mean essentially the collapse of Yugoslavia.''

Non-Yugoslavs here find it somewhat difficult to understand the inflexibility of Yugoslavs on this question. Yugoslavia's federal state already has six republics; what difference would one more republic make? Why not a republic of Kosovo, since 85 percent of the 1.5 million inhabitants are ethnic Albanians?
 
Rights of Ethnic Albanians

It is just as difficult to understand why ethnic Albanians so fiercely demanded the status of a republic, when under their present status as a Socialist Autonomous Province they have virtually all the rights of a republic, including their own administration, banking, courts, flag and language - everything except the right to secede.

According to the 1974 Constitution, the federal state is made up of a community of ''voluntarily united nations,'' which presupposes that these nations or republics have the right to pull out of the federation. On the other hand, it is specified that any territory of a republic, that is, the autonomous provinces, may not be altered without the consent of that republic.

The simple explanation for Yugoslavia's rejection of the ethnic Albanians' request for a republic is that the Republic of Serbia would not agree to the amputation of its southern province, which was the historical heartland of the ancient kingdom of Serbia.

There are only 228,000 Serbs living in Kosovo today, compared with about one million ethnic Albanians. The Serbs were first driven out by the Turkish invasion in the 14th century and in modern times by the desire for a better life in the northern, industrialized part of the country. But in Kosovo remain the Orthodox Patriarchate of Pec, as well as many ancient monasteries and Serbian history, which cannot be easily renounced.
 
'Conspiratorial Forces'

Many Yugoslavs tend to believe in ''conspiratorial forces'' behind the Kosovo events. Mr. Dolanc, the Government spokesman, accused ''certain nationalistic groups linked to emigrants abroad'' that he described as being either profascist or pro-Moscow.

There is a complex theory of conspiracy, which many high Yugoslav officials believe, involving designs for a ''Greater Albania,'' the annexation of Macedonia to Bulgaria; allegedly at the root of it all is the Soviet Union.

A senior Communist Party official, with map in hand, explained in detail what he said might happen:

- In phase one, an Albanian republic of Kosovo would be set up, and the Albanian-inhabited areas of neighboring Macedonia and Montenegro would insist on annexation to such a republic.

- In phase two, the Albanian republic would pull out of the Yugoslav federation and proclaim itself part of a Greater Albania.

- In phase three, Bulgaria, which has always alleged that the majority of the inhabitants of Macedonia were Bulgarians and refused to recognize the existence of Macedonia, could with greater justification claim the territory because, with the Albanians gone, there would be practically only ethnic Bulgarians left.

- Finally, the theory goes, the Soviet Union could have a free corridor through Bulgaria and a Greater Albania to the Mediterranean. Albania, which has taken care to show that it had no hand in the Kosovo events, has portrayed them as a simple demonstration of nationalist discontent.

After a long silence, the Albanian Communist Party organ Zeri i Popullit produced a long editorial recently with the grievances of the students of Pristina, which were said to include bad living conditions, the gap in economic development between Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, lack of freedom and democratic rights and the refusal of the right to their own republic.
 
'Misuse of Democracy'

''Haven't the Albanians of Kosovo all these qualities and characteristics making up a nation, don't they live on one compact territory with a common language, culture, religion, aren't they in a position to govern themselves?'' the Albanian Communist newspaper asked. It added that what the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo wanted was to be ''liberated from the tutelage of Serbia.''

Many Yugoslavs find it difficult to understand such nationalist arguments and what is perceived as the ''ingratitude'' of the ethnic Albanian demonstrators and their ''misuse of democracy.'' Above all they fail to understand signs of irredentism with an Albania that is known to be much more closed and less developed than Kosovo, let alone the rest of Yugoslavia. They point out the major sums invested in the province since the end of World War II, and the schools, hospitals, factories and power stations that have been built.

Nevertheless, politicians and economists acknowledge that this rapid development has also brought new problems. A top planning official disclosed that according to projections the rate of economic growth in Kosovo from 1975 to the year 2000 will be 80 percent, but the labor force will have tripled.

The authorities have not said how they plan to cope with the challenges in Kosovo. It is clear, however, that although they will undoubtedly clean up the local Communist Party leadership, they are loath to instigate a repressive policy that would certainly raise criticism from the West.

It appears that in the long run, the authorities will try to give Kosovo more of the same broad autonomy and development aid, but both Yugoslavs and foreigners are asking whether this will be enough.
 

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only

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4. June 14, 1981
Yugoslavia Adds Police In Troubled Albanian Area

The New York Times, June 14, 1981, Sunday, Late City Final Edition, Section 1; Part 1; Page 24, Column 1; Foreign Desk, 479 words

Belgrade, Yugoslavia, June 13 (Reuters) - Yugoslavia has announced plans to strengthen the security forces in Kosovo Province, the southern region jolted by nationalist rioting in March and April by ethnic Albanians.

Interior Minister Franjo Herljevic informed Parliament this week that 1,000 men would be added to the uniformed police and that the plainclothes branch would be doubled. He warned more trouble was possible, including terrorism and guerrilla action.

Mr. Herljevic said it was clear that the security forces had been inadequate during the rioting, in which at least nine people were killed and more than 200 injured.

The riots, which began at Kosovo University, quickly took on a strong nationalist and separatist tone and spread through much of the province, the poorest in Yugoslavia. Albanians are the dominant nationality in Kosovo.

Apart from potential violance, Mr. Herljevic cited as major problems a steady migration of Slavic peoples from Kosovo and also what he called passive resistance to authority in the region.

He gave no details of the resistance, but his speech seemed likely to increase pressure on the Kosovo Government and Communist Party leaderships, which are being purged of people accused of having allowed Albanian nationalism to flourish.

Yugoslavia's federal leaders are concerned by what they see as obstructionism in Kosovo to efforts to correct the situation. The Belgrade leadership's anger increased when it became apparent that Kosovo officials had been misleading the central Government about conditions in the province.

Mr. Herljevic disclosed yesterday that when the riots first broke out, the Belgrade Government's offers of help were turned down by Kosovo as unnecessary. The riots spread across the province and had to be put down by security forces.
 
Secession of Kosovo Feared

Kosovo has the status of an autonomous province within Serbia, the largest of Yogoslavia's six republics. Albanian nationalists in the province demand republic status. Belgrade fears such status would allow Kosovo to secede and merge with neighboring Albania.

Belgrade alleges that Albania has fomented nationalism through official contacts and through clandestine organizations dedicated to unifying ethnic Albanians into a single state. Albania denies the charges.

The Government has concentrated its purge on the University of Pristina, described as a "hotbed of nationalism." Mr. Herljevic said that most of the 154 people charged as a result of the riots were intellectuals.

One Communist said in private that Kosovo made a mistake in closing the university last month after new protests, sending 37,000 students back to their homes throughout the province.

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only

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5. September 5, 1981
Around the World; Two Provincial Chiefs Resign in Yugoslavia

The New York Times, September 26, 1981, Saturday, Late City Final Edition, Section 1; Page 4, Column 6; Foreign Desk, 173 words, AP, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Sept. 25

Two high-ranking Government officials in Kosovo Province resigned today, and provincial officials dismissed several executives of the state-controlled news media, the official Tanjug press agency reported.

Tanyug provided no explanation for the resignations and dismissals, but they appeared to be linked to political feuding over the riots in March and April by ethnic Albanians that left nine people dead and 250 injured.

The press agency said that the provincial parliament had accepted the resignations of Bahri Oruchi, the province's Prime Minister, and Dusan Ristic, the Parliament President. It also said that Parliament had dismissed the Pristina television station director and the director of the radio station.

Three-fourths of the 1.6 million people in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians. Nationalists have demanded more autonomy for the province and even its secession from Yugoslavia and union with neighboring Albania.

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only

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6. October 18, 1981
Rioting  by Albanian Nationists has Left Scars in Yugoslav Region,

The New York Times, October 19, 1981, Monday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 4, Column 3; Foreign Desk, 595 words, Reuters, Pristina, Yugoslavia, Oct. 18

Tension has eased in this capital and other parts of the troubled southern Yugoslav province of Kosovo, where Albanian nationalist riots left nine people dead and scores injured last spring.

Six months after the riots, movie theaters and discotheques have opened again, policemen who patrol the streets at night are not as heavily armed, and Pristina University, where the riots started, has reopened.

But officials say it will be a long time before the situation is normal in the province, which is Yugoslavia's poorest and is populated mainly by people of Albanian descent.

Albanian nationalist slogans and underground activities are still in evidence in Kosovo. Foreigners are not allowed in the province without a special permit, and Serbs and other non-Albanian people continue to move to other parts of the country.
 
'Mistrust Has Increased'

''Unhealthy Albanian nationalism has been tolerated by the Kosovo Communist Party and Government leadership for a long time,'' a resident of Pristina said. ''Animosities between majority Albanians and minority Serbs and Montenegrins have deepened and mistrust has increased after the riots.''

Purges of Government and Communist Party ranks since the riots have included the ousting of the Kosovo party chief, Mahmut Bakali, and the provincial president, Dzavid Nimani.

More than 300 people, mainly ethnic Albanian students, workers and farmers, were sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years for organizing the riots and for membership in clandestine organizations sympathizing with neighboring Albania.

''The situation is now under control,'' a member of the new Kosovo leadership, Azem Vlasi, said. ''We have dealt with the organizers of the riots, but nationalism is a state of mind that requires a longlasting struggle.''

He said the leadership planned a long campaign to counter ''reactionary nationalist ideology.''
 
Emergency Was Declared

Though surprised by the riots, Yugoslav authorities moved quickly. Special police and army units were flown to Kosovo in early April, and a state of emergency, the first since World War II, was declared in the province.

The authorities described the riots as counterrevolutionary and separatist, aimed at breaking up the multinational Yugoslav federation. They accused the Kosovo leadership of opportunism and of tolerating nationalism and bureaucratic attitudes that hurt social and economic development in the province.

Belgrade also accused Albania of fomenting the riots. Albania denied the charges and in turn accused Belgrade of neglect and brutality toward Albanians living in Yugoslavia.

''Any disturbances in Yugoslavia suit Albania because Tirana is in a permanent state of fear of a possible outside influence on that last bastion of Stalinism,'' Mr. Vlasi said.

The new provincial leaders acknowledge that their predecessors made mistakes in social and economic policy and promise to improve the situation.

Authorities at Pristina University said they were confident the riots would not be repeated. They said that 60 students and five professors had been dismissed for involvement in the riots and that discussions about the responsibility of at least 150 others were under way.

Many people, including some officials, voiced concern about the harsh sentences imposed, particularly on young people, at the trials last summer.
 

Copyright 1981 The New York Times Company  * Reprinted for Fair Use Only 

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7. July 12, 1982
Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia

By MARVINE HOWE, Special to The New York Times
DATELINE: PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

Danilo Krstic and his family are hardworking wheat and tobacco farmers, Serbs who get along with their Albanian neighbors.

"You have to love the place where you live to stay on the land here," Marko Krstic, the oldest son, told visitors to the farm at Bec, a few miles from the Albanian border. There have been no serious troubles between Serbians and Albanians in Bec, but Serbs in some of the neighboring villages have reportedly been harassed by Albanians and have packed up and left the region.

The exodus of Serbs is admittedly one of the main problems that the authorities have to contend with in Kosovo, an autonomous province of Yugoslavia inhabited largely by Albanians.

Rioting Brought Awareness

Last year's riots, in which nine people were killed, shocked not only the troubled province of Kosovo but also the entire country into an awareness of the problems of this most backward part of Yugoslavia, which is made up of many ethnic groups.

In June a 43-year-old Serb, Miodrag Saric, was shot and killed by an Albanian neighbor, Ded Krasnici, in a village near Djakovica, 40 miles southwest of Pristina, according to the official Yugoslav press agency Tanyug. It was the second murder of a Serb by an Albanian in Kosovo this year. The dispute reportedly started with a quarrel over damage done to a field belonging to the Saric family.

The local political and security bodies condemned the murder as "a grave criminal act" that could have serious repercussions, according to the press agency. Five members of the Krasnici family have been arrested and investigations are continuing.

The authorities have responded at various levels to the violence in Kosovo, clearly trying to avoid antagonizing the Albanian majority. Besides firm security measures, action has been taken to speed political, educational and economic changes.

Past Errors Acknowledged

Privately, some officials acknowledge that the rise of Albanian nationalism in a society that is based on the principle of the equality of nationalities is the result of past errors - at first neglect and discrimination, and more recently failure to act against divisive forces or even recognize them.

"The [Albanian] nationalists have a two-point platform," according to Becir Hoti, an executive secretary of the Communist Party of Kosovo, "first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania. "

Mr. Hoti, an Albanian, expressed concern over political pressures that were forcing Serbs to leave Kosovo. "What is important now," he said, "is to establish a climate of security and create confidence."

The migration of Serbs is no ordinary problem becuase Kosovo is the heartland of Serbian history, culture and religion. Serbs have been in this region since the seventh century, long before they founded their own independent dynasty here in 1168.

57,000 Serbs Have Left Region

Some 57,000 Serbs have left Kosovo in the last decade, and the number increased considerably after the riots of March and April last year, according to Vukasin Jokanovic, another executive secretary of the Kosovo party.

Mr. Jokanovic, former president of the Commission on Migration set up after last year's disturbances, said the cause of Serbian migration was "essentially of a political nature."

The commission has given four basic reasons for the departures: social-economic, normal migration from this underdeveloped area, an increasingly adverse social-political climate and direct and indirect pressures.

Mr. Jokanovic, a Serb, called the pressures disturbing and said they included personal insults, damage to Serbian graves and the burning of hay, cutting down wood and other attacks on property to force Serbs to leave.

The 1981 census showed Kosovo with a population of 1,584,558, of whom 77.5 percent were ethnic Albanians, 13.2 percent Serbs and 1.7 percent Montenegrins.

The population in 1971 of 1,243,693 was 73.8 percent Albanian, 18.4 percent Serbian and 2.5 percent Montenegrin.

Ex-Defense Minister Concerned

In a recent visit to Kosovo, Nikola Ljubcic, head of the Serbian Presidency and a former Minister of Defense, expressed particular concern about the continuing exodus of Serbs.

"An ethnically clean Kosovo will always be cause for instability," Mr. Ljubicic said, adding that Yugoslavia "will never give up one foot of her land."

Conversations with Serbs and Albanians in different parts of the province showed that that they were generally troubled about the Serbian migration but did not know what to do about it. Some people described it as "psychological warfare" but were at a loss to explain who was at fault.

In Pristina, the provincial capital, with its skyscrapers and bustling streets, people said they felt relatively secure because the authorities maintained "a close watch." Although the army remains at a distance and has not had to intervene, there is a strong militia presence.

Things appear relaxed on the Corso, Pristina's main street. As in other Yugoslav cities, every night from about 6 to 10 the main thoroughfare is closed to traffic and practically everyone turns out for a stroll, encounters and discussions.

Different Sides of Street

What is special about Pristina is that it has always been Serbs on one side of the street and Albanians on the other. Residents say Albanians have been encroaching on Serbian "territory" since the disturbances.

After the crackdown on Albanian nationalists - about 300 have been sentenced - they are said to have changed tactics, moving to the villages, where there is less security control.

In some mixed communities, there were reports of [Serbian] farmers being pressured to sell their land cheap and of Albanian shopkeepers refusing to sell goods to Serbs.

"We don't want to go because we have a large farm," a Serbian farmer's wife said in a village near Pristina. "Our property hasn't been touched, but there are the insults and the intimidation, so we feel uncomfortable." Several neighbors have left, she said, and her own sons who were planning to build a new house have stopped "to see how things will turn out."

There have been many changes since the riots, but most people in Pristina agree with Mr. Ljubicic that more could be done. The main thrust of the changes is economic. "We're going to change the economic structures with more emphasis on agriculture, the processing industry, small business and handicrafts," Aziz Abrashi, the Economics Minister, said in an interview.

"Ninety-nine percent of the Albanians have no wish to live in Albania," Mr. Abrashi, an Albanian, said, "but they view the rest of Yugoslavia and are aware of the higher living standards. Our young people want the same good life, the nice houses and cars, and they can't get them if they can't get jobs."

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8. Nov. 9, 1982
YUGOSLAVS SEEK TO QUELL STRIFE IN REGION OF ETHNIC ALBANIANS

By DAVID BINDER, Special to the New York Times

DATELINE: PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

In Belgrade, three muscular men in black windbreakers boarded a night train to Kosovo, the southern province where nearly all of Yugoslavia's more than 1.5 million ethnic Albanians live.

In a conversation with a visitor in the aisle, the three men said in Serbian that they were headed for the provincial capital, Pristina, for a few days of what they called ''service work.''

On arrival near dawn, they were picked up by a van marked ''Militia.'' The three were plainclothesmen of the Yugoslav Federal Security Service, apparently sent here to help prevent acts of violence by Albanian nationalists.

An official in Belgrade, 150 miles to the north, said that since the rioting in March 1981 when nine people were killed, the Yugoslav Government had spent more than $30 million to maintain order in the Kosovo Autonomous Province, which abuts Albania. The province, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, contains only about 180,000 Slavs.

Both the Yugoslav Army and the militia maintain a large visible presence here. Yet acts of violence, mostly attacks on Kosovo Serbs or their property, continue to be reported every week in the Belgrade press.

Non-Albanians Flee Area

A few days ago a newspaper reported that a young Albanian had splashed gasoline in the face of a 12-year-old Serbian boy and ignited it with a match. The boy avoided serious injury by pulling his sweater over his head, extinguishing the flames.

Such incidents have prompted many of Kosovo's Slavic inhabitants to flee the province, thereby helping to fulfill a nationalist demand for an ethnically ''pure'' Albanian Kosovo. The latest Belgrade estimate is that 20,000 Serbs and Montenegrins have left Kosovo for good since the 1981 riots. The hatred that has developed between ethnic Albanians and the Slavic inhabitants is reflected in slogans painted overnight on walls here. In an interview, Ismaili Bajra, a husky 53-year-old ethnic Albanian who is a member of the province's Communist Party presidium, spoke with pride of progress in the industrialization of the province, but he spoke scornfully of the Kosovo nationalists as ''traitors.''

Terming the political situation good, he said it was getting ''more stable'' every day. ''Now the school year has begun,'' he said, adding that, with ''500 000 youngsters enrolled,'' there have been ''no hostile actions, though of course you do find slogans painted here and there.'' The ethnic turmoil in Kosovo has origins that go back more than five centuries when the Serbian nation developed in this region and created a brief-lived empire that was ended by the Ottoman Turks in 1389. As the Turkish grip tightened, Serb peasants gradually migrated northward, and Albanians moved in.

Tito Ruled With Strong Hand

After Serbia became independent again in the 19th century, Belgrade asserted dominance over the Albanians of Kosovo. After Marshal Tito's Communists took power in the 1940's, Kosovo's Albanians were ruled with an iron hand by the Serbian authorities of Belgrade for nearly 21 years. A minority in Serbia as a whole, the Albanians were already a majority in Kosovo.

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9. April 28, 1986
IN ONE YUGOSLAV PROVINCE, SERBS FEAR THE ETHNIC ALBANIANS

By HENRY KAMM, Special to the New York Times

DATELINE: PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

The ethnic Albanian majority in the autonomous province of Kosovo is feared by the minority population of Serbs and Montenegrins, who believe the Albanians are seeking to drive them out of the province. A 1981 fire that gutted the medieval nunnery of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in Pec, a center of Serbian national feeling, has been officially ascribed to bad construction.

An aged nun at the Patriarchate said she and her sisters were convinced that the fire had been set to chase them from Kosovo. But she said the nuns would never leave, and three Serbian or Montenegrin visitors agreed with her. The provincial leadership, dominated by ethnic Albanians, has said it believes that a Serb grossly mutilated last May by a broken bottle inflicted his injuries himself while performing an auto-erotic act. The maiming of Djordje Martinovic, a 56-year-old farmer and father of three, has become the most widely discussed Yugoslav criminal case in years, debated in Parliament and covered in full detail by television and the press.

Yugoslavs Blame the Albanians

The case remains unsolved, but Yugoslavs' minds seem mainly made up on both incidents. They blame ethnic Albanians. They also blame them for continuing assaults, rapes and vandalism. They believe their aim is to drive non-Albanians out of Kosovo.

''A legitimized genocide against the Serbian people is being carried out in Kosovo,'' said Dobrica Cosic, a dissident novelist published here and in the United States, in an interview in Belgrade. ''More than 200,000 Serbs have been forced to leave their home in the last 10, 20 years.'' A steady exodus continues.

Since Albanian nationalists went on a rampage in 1981, leaving at least nine people dead, the level of violence has declined. But enough agitation continues, punctuated by acts of violence, to make a burning issue of the antagonism between the 1.4 million ethnic Albanians and the little more than 200,000 Serbs.

Under the federal Constitution, Kosovo is part of the Serbian Republic. In effect, it is as self-governing as the six republics of the nation. It is also the poorest region of Yugoslavia. Men in their 20's line the main street of Pristina - a stretch of grandiose modern buildings that separates near-slums on either side - offering to shine the shoes of passers-by who can hardly afford such luxury. Begging children accost diners in restaurants.

Use of Funds Criticized

The overambitious buildings, such as a recent, prematurely rundown, 300-room hotel with 3 restaurants in a little-visited town of 100,000, sustain criticism of the provincial leadership a a misuse of federal development funds. To many, the aid represents a futile effort to solve an intractable problem through financial bounty.

Mohammed Mustafa, director of the Provincial Economic Planning Instititute, said there were 115,000 registered unemployed out of a potential work force of 804,000. The economic growth rate has been 1.5 percent a year since 1980, while the population is growing at 2.5 percent, he said. The average wage is 20 percent below the national average.

''Kosovo is Yugoslavia's single greatest problem,'' said a Western diplomat. ''They can pay off their huge debt, but Kosovo defies solution.'' Serbs and Montenegrins feel beleaguered. Communists and non-Communists express distrust of the provincial leadership and chagrin over the federal and Serbian authorities who in their opinion do nothing to halt increasing Albanian domination over a multi-national population and lands that are historically inseparable from Serbian national identity.

Restrictive Atmosphere

Non-Albanian Yugoslav residents and visitors characterize the atmosphere of Kosovo as frighteningly restrictive and its Communist leadership as so dogmatic as to resemble the rigorously Stalinist regime that holds power in nearby Albania.

In contrast to officials elsewhere in Yugoslavia, who readily acknowledge problems and errors and de-emphasize ideology in favor of pragmatism, a leading Kosovo official, Ekrem Arifi, offered an entirely ideological explanation of Kosovo's problems.

In prepared statements that took the place of replies to questions, he blamed outside forces for all difficulties -agents of Albania and emigres in the West. Mr. Arifi, executive secretary of the provincial party, spoke in Albanian and in stock phrases long out of use in Yugoslavia, such as ''proletarian internationalism,'' ''the class enemy'' or ''the solidarity of the working class.''

They are not echoed by the non-Albanian population. Asked whether the nuns felt safe in their rebuilt convent, the old nun replied, ''Yes, with God's help.''

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10. July 27, 1986
MINORITIES ARE UNEASY IN YUGOSLAV PROVINCE

By HENRY KAMM, Special to the New York Times

DATELINE: BELGRADE, Yugoslavia

The Yugoslav Government is keeping a watch on Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo Autonomous Province to prevent them from staging protest marches on Belgrade. The two groups charge that the region's Albanian ethnic majority is trying to force them from their ancestral homes.

The Serbs and Montenegrins of Kosovo began agitating during a Communist Party convention in June. The police blocked roads to forestall planned marches to dramatize the issue.

But even without marches, ethnic tension in Kosovo was a topic of debate at the convention. Speakers said that Albania was fomenting agitation in the autonomous province with the intent of detaching it from Yugoslavia. The convention also heard an attack on Bulgaria and Greece over the longstanding issue of Macedonian nationality. Macedonians, a Slavic group with historical links both to Bulgaria and to Greece, form one of the constituent republics of Yugoslavia.

Turkish Minority in Bulgaria

Along with the persecution of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria and resentment among ethnic Hungarians in Rumania, ethnic issues that have marked Balkan history are returning to the fore.

''We have to say how dangerous the Kosovo problem is to the integrity of our country,'' said Ivan Stambolic, President of the Serbian Republic, which includes Kosovo Autonomous Province. Kosovo's population of 1.6 million is 78 percent ethnic Albanian.

''It is the most delicate problem we have ever had,'' said Mr. Stambolic in a meeting with Western reporters at the convention hall. ''It is a problem of long duration that cannot be solved overnight.''

Since earlier this year, hundreds of Serbs living in Kosovo have staged marches in Belgrade to protest what they consider the failure of the Government to protect them from attacks and threats by Albanians against them and their property.

'Unfavorable Trends'

Vidoje Zarkovic, head of the party's collective presidency, spoke at the convention about ''continuing unfavorable trends in the province'' and said, ''We have not succeeded in stabilizing the disturbed interethnic relations and in developing trust.''

In a resolution, the convention accused Albania of fomenting ethnic conflict. ''Albania has continued to openly and blatantly interfere in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia,'' the resolution declared. ''Irredentist and

nationalist indoctrination of our citizens by Albania constitutes a serious threat to peace and security in the Balkans and beyond.''

Despite a perceptible thawing of Albania's isolationist attitude since the death last year of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian leader, its hostility to Yugoslavia has grown.

''Albania is intensifying its anti-Yugoslav campaign,'' said Dobrivoje Vidic, a member of the Yugoslav party's presidency. ''It unrelentingly attacks all the values of our society, expresses unconcealed territorial aspirations, flagrantly interferes in the internal affairs of our people and extends open support to the counterrevolutionary goals of the Albanian separatists in Yugoslavia.''

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11. June 28, 1987
Belgrade Battles Kosovo Serbs

BYLINE: Special to the New York Times

DATELINE: BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, June 27

The police clashed here early today with about 1,000 Serbs and Montenegrins protesting what they called terrorism against them by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo Province.

The clash occurred shortly after a meeting of the country's Central Committee during which there were 16 hours of debate on ways to ease tension between Kosovo's 1.7 million ethnic Albanians and 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins.

Witnesses said squads of policemen seized demonstrators and forced them into buses to be driven back to their homes in Kosovo. Some protesters were detained for several hours.

The Central Committee meeting was the first in six years dedicated solely to Kosovo problem.

Tensions have been high in the province in southwestern Yugoslavia since the Albanians rioted there in 1981 to back demands for higher status as a republic.

Since then, more than 22,000 Serbs and Montenegrins have fled Kosovo. The Government asked people from Kosovo not to come to Belgrade during the Central Committee meeting, but hundreds came here overnight. Published excerpts from the debate showed continued splits in the party ranks, and no decisive action was considered likely.

The police also prevented large groups of Belgrade residents from joining the protesters by cordoning of the entire center of the city.

Serbs have said the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have committed atrocities against them, including murder, rape, desecration of graves and churches and blinding of cattle.

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12. Nov. 1, 1987
In Yugoslavia, Rising Ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil Conflict

BYLINE: By DAVID BINDER, Special to the New York Times

DATELINE: BELGRADE, Yugoslavia

 Portions of southern Yugoslavia have reached such a state of ethnic friction that Yugoslavs have begun to talk of the horrifying possibility of ''civil war'' in a land that lost one-tenth of its population, or 1.7 million people, in World War II.

 The current hostilities pit separatist-minded ethnic Albanians against the various Slavic populations of Yugoslavia and occur at all levels of society, from the highest officials to the humblest peasants.

 A young Army conscript of ethnic Albanian origin shot up his barracks, killing four sleeping Slavic bunkmates and wounding six others.

 The army says it has uncovered hundreds of subversive ethnic Albanian cells in its ranks. Some arsenals have been raided.

 Vicious Insults

Ethnic Albanians in the Government have manipulated public funds and regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs. And politicians have exchanged vicious insults.

 Slavic Orthodox churches have been attacked, and flags have been torn down. Wells have been poisoned and crops burned. Slavic boys have been knifed, and some young ethnic Albanians have been told by their elders to rape Serbian girls.

 Ethnic Albanians comprise the fastest growing nationality in Yugoslavia and are expected soon to become its third largest, after the Serbs and Croats.

 Radicals' Goals

. The goal of the radical nationalists among them, one said in an interview, is an ''ethnic Albania that includes western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, part of southern Serbia, Kosovo and Albania itself.'' That includes large chunks of the republics that make up the southern half of Yugoslavia.

 Other ethnic Albanian separatists admit to a vision of a greater Albania governed from Pristina in southern Yugoslavia rather than Tirana, the capital of neighboring Albania.

 There is no evidence that the hard-line Communist Government in Tirana is giving them material assistance.

 The principal battleground is the region called Kosovo, a high plateau ringed by mountains that is somewhat smaller than New Jersey. Ethnic Albanians there make up 85 percent of the population of 1.7 million. The rest are Serbians and Montenegrins.

 Worst Strife in Years

As Slavs flee the protracted violence, Kosovo is becoming what ethnic Albanian nationalists have been demanding for years, and especially strongly since the bloody rioting by ethnic Albanians in Pristina in 1981 - an ''ethnically pure'' Albanian region, a ''Republic of Kosovo'' in all but name.

 The violence, a journalist in Kosovo said, is escalating to ''the worst in the last seven years.''

 Many Yugoslavs blame the troubles on the ethnic Albanians, but the matter is more complex in a country with as many nationalities and religions as Yugoslavia's and involves economic development, law, politics, families and flags. As recently as 20 years ago, the Slavic majority treated ethnic Albanians as inferiors to be employed as hewers of wood and carriers of heating coal. The ethnic Albanians, who now number 2 million, were officially deemed a minority, not a constituent nationality, as they are today.

 Were the ethnic tensions restricted to Kosovo, Yugoslavia's problems with its Albanian nationals might be more manageable. But some Yugoslavs and some ethnic Albanians believe the struggle has spread far beyond Kosovo. Macedonia, a republic to the south with a population of 1.8 million, has a restive ethnic Albanian minority of 350,000.

 "We've already lost western Macedonia to the Albanians,'' said a member of the Yugoslav party presidium, explaining that the ethnic minority had driven the Slavic Macedonians out of the region.

 Attacks on Slavs

Last summer, the authorities in Kosovo said they documented 40 ethnic Albanian attacks on Slavs in two months. In the last two years, 320 ethnic Albanians have been sentenced for political crimes, nearly half of them characterized as severe.

 In one incident, Fadil Hoxha, once the leading politician of ethnic Albanian origin in Yugoslavia, joked at an official dinner in Prizren last year that Serbian women should be used to satisfy potential ethnic Albanian rapists. After his quip was reported this October, Serbian women in Kosovo protested, and Mr. Hoxha was dismissed from the Communist Party.

 As a precaution, the central authorities dispatched 380 riot police officers to the Kosovo region for the first time in four years.

 Officials in Belgrade view the ethnic Albanian challenge as imperiling the foundations of the multinational experiment called federal Yugoslavia, which consists of six republics and two provinces.

 'Lebanonizing' of Yugoslavia

High-ranking officials have spoken of the ''Lebanonizing'' of their country and have compared its troubles to the strife in Northern Ireland.

 Borislav Jovic, a member of the Serbian party's presidency, spoke in an interview of the prospect of ''two Albanias, one north and one south, like divided Germany or Korea,'' [the phrase 'two Albanias' must be an editing/typographical error; he probably said "two Serbias." - J.I.] and of ''practically the breakup of Yugoslavia.'' He added: ''Time is working against us.''

 The federal Secretary for National Defense, Fleet Adm. Branko Mamula, told the army's party organization in September of efforts by ethnic Albanians to subvert the armed forces. ''Between 1981 and 1987 a total of 216 illegal organizations with 1,435 members of Albanian nationality were discovered in the Yugoslav People's Army,'' he said. Admiral Mamula said ethnic Albanian subversives had been preparing for ''killing officers and soldiers, poisoning food and water, sabotage, breaking into weapons arsenals and stealing arms and ammunition, desertion and causing flagrant nationalist incidents in army units.''

 Concerns Over Military

Coming three weeks after the ethnic Albanian draftee, Aziz Kelmendi, had slaughtered his Slavic comrades in the barracks at Paracin, the speech struck fear in thousands of families whose sons were about to start their mandatory year of military service.

 Because the Albanians have had a relatively high birth rate, one-quarter of the army's 200,000 conscripts this year are ethnic Albanians. Admiral Mamula suggested that 3,792 were potential human timebombs.

 He said the army had ''not been provided with details relevant for assessing their behavior.'' But a number of Belgrade politicians said they doubted the Yugoslav armed forces would be used to intervene in Kosovo as they were to quell violent rioting in 1981 in Pristina. They reason that the army leadership is extremely reluctant to become involved in what is, in the first place, a political issue.

 Ethnic Albanians already control almost every phase of life in the autonomous province of Kosovo, including the police, judiciary, civil service, schools and factories. Non-Albanian visitors almost immediately feel the independence - and suspicion - of the ethnic Albanian authorities.

 Region's Slavs Lack Strength

While 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins still live in the province, they are scattered and lack cohesion. In the last seven years, 20,000 of them have fled the province, often leaving behind farmsteads and houses, for the safety of the Slavic north.

 Until September, the majority of the Serbian Communist Party leadership pursued a policy of seeking compromise with the Kosovo party hierarchy under its ethnic Albanian leader, Azem Vlasi.

 But during a 30-hour session of the Serbian central committee in late September, the Serbian party secretary, Slobodan Milosevic, deposed Dragisa Pavlovic, as head of Belgrade's party organization, the country's largest. Mr. Milosevic accused Mr. Pavlovic of being an appeaser who was soft on Albanian radicals. Mr. Milosevic had courted the Serbian backlash vote with speeches in Kosovo itself calling for ''the policy of the hard hand.''

 ''We will go up against anti-Socialist forces, even if they call us Stalinists,'' Mr. Milosevic declared recently. That a Yugoslav politician would invite someone to call him a Stalinist even four decades after Tito's epochal break with Stalin, is a measure of the state into which Serbian politics have fallen. For the moment, Mr. Milosevic and his supporters appear to be staking their careers on a strategy of confrontation with the Kosovo ethnic Albanians.

 Other Yugoslav politicians have expressed alarm. ''There is no doubt Kosovo is a problem of the whole country, a powder keg on which we all sit,'' said Milan Kucan, head of the Slovenian Communist Party.

 Remzi Koljgeci, of the Kosovo party leadership, said in an interview in Pristina that ''relations are cold'' between the ethnic Albanians and Serbs of the province, that there were too many ''people without hope.''

 But many of those interviewed agreed it was also a rare opportunity for Yugoslavia to take radical political and economic steps, as Tito did when he broke with the Soviet bloc in 1948.

 Efforts are under way to strengthen central authority through amendments to the constitution. The League of Communists is planning an extraordinary party congress before March to address the country's grave problems.

 The hope is that something will be done then to exert the rule of law in Kosovo while drawing ethnic Albanians back into Yugoslavia's mainstream.

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13. September 23, 1988
70,000 Serbs Vent Anger at Officials
By HENRY KAMM, Special to the New York Times
DATELINE: KRALJEVO, Yugoslavia, Sept. 22, 1988

About 70,000 Serbians braved a steady rain and fields of mud after the factories closed in this Serbian industrial town this afternoon to cheer speakers and shout slogans.

It was perhaps the largest of a rash of rallies held since July over the ethnic conflict in Kosovo, an autonomous province of Serbia south of here. Serbs contend that Kosovo's ethnic majority of 1.7 million Albanians has terrorized a minority of 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins with the aim of driving them out of Kosovo and turning it into a purely Albanian province.

The plight of the Kosovo Serbs was the official subject of the demonstration. But much of the speeches, and many of the slogans that were chanted throughout the meeting, made evident why the rallies are viewed with great unease by the authorities.

Leaders Under Fire

In a country with an annual inflation rate approaching 200 percent, a sinking standard of living and rising unemployment, economic problems are as prominent as the deeply emotional ethnic problem of Kosovo. The speeches and slogans today reflected that.

''We don't want imposing villas, planes, yachts and private beaches,'' said Vojislav Radunovic, the union leader at the railroad car factory that is this town's main industry, alluding to recent disclosures of high living among Government and Communist Party leaders.

''You are not our comrades because you do not line up at dawn to buy 'people's bread,' '' he continued. He was referring to the low-quality bread that bakeries must provide at low cost to cushion the shock of repeated increases in the price of better bread.

''You don't share our destiny on the first, second or third shift,'' he said. ''You don't go down in the mine shafts; you don't climb high to build bridges. You are not our comrades.''

''The people should judge them!'' was a shout that rose from the crowd, which responded enthusiastically throughout the meeting. ''Thieves!'' the crowd roared. ''Down with those who sit in armchairs.''

One of the hundreds of homemade posters being held high proclaimed, ''Down with the socialist bourgeoisie!''

Yugoslavia is composed of six republics and two provinces, each with parallel government and party bureaucracies. Because of its federal governmental and party system, this nation of 23 million people has an extraordinarily high density of bureaucrats, and government and party officials have become targets of particular ire.

''Return all you have taken from the working class!'' the union leader continued. ''You with your privileged pensions, which are bigger than the pay of entire brigades of steelworkers, do you ever blush when you collect them?''

A Shift in Emphasis

Yugoslavs who have attended several of the rallies over the Kosovo conflict noted a shift of emphasis today, with speeches and slogans paying greater heed to Yugoslavia's economic plight than at earlier meetings. They explained this by Kraljevo's working-class character.

Nonetheless, the crowd's nationalist anger was equally evident. Serbs are Yugoslavia's largest population group, numbering more than eight million. Increasingly, they are expressing frustration over a perception that because of a distrust among fellow Yugoslavs based on their numbers they do not enjoy the share of national power that they feel should be theirs.

The mounting agitation over Kosovo is the clearest expression of the sense of Serbian frustration. ''Down with those who betray the Serbian people!'' a poster proclaimed. And many in the crowd burst into an old patriotic song: ''Who says, who lies, that Serbia is small?''

Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia's party chief, commands mass support for his demand that the two autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina, be stripped of much of their autonomy and more fully integrated into Serbia.

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