CEOL - Russia Says West Neglecting "Kosovo Genocide"

MOSCOW, Nov 30, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused Western states on Tuesday of turning a blind eye to what he described as "genocide" against Serbs in Kosovo, RIA news agency reported.

"In fact a genocide is taking place in Kosovo. This is happening with the silent consent of Western states," RIA quoted Ivanov as saying. Russia opposed NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia earlier this year but is part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the breakaway region of Kosovo.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians fled ethnic cleansing in Kosovo earlier this year. A combination of NATO air strikes and diplomatic pressure finally forced Belgrade to withdraw its forces from the province, leaving Kosovo's ethnic Serbs vulnerable to revenge attacks by returning Albanians.

"Unfortunately, the U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 is not being adhered to," Ivanov said, referring to the resolution calling for disarmament of the ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which has been turned into a local police unit under a deal forged with NATO.

"In the past few months more than 200,000 Serbs and people belonging to different ethnic groups have been expelled from Kosovo," Ivanov said. "Albanian separatist leaders do not hide their intention to pull Kosovo out of Yugoslavia."

Ivanov made his remarks as the West stepped up pressure on Moscow over what it saw as the use of excessive force against civilians in Russia's breakaway region of Chechnya, where Russian troops are fighting Islamic separatists. Some 200,000 Chechens have fled the region amid heavy Russian aerial bombardment.

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