NYT - October 25, 1999

Kosovo Albanians Rally to Bar Russians

ORAHOVAC, Kosovo -- Some 4,000 Kosovo Albanians gathered on Sunday to reaffirm their refusal to allow Russian peacekeepers to be stationed in this town in southern Kosovo, two months after barricades first went up to prevent the deployment of the soldiers.

The Russians were to replace Dutch forces in Orahovac, 30 miles southwest of Pristina, as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force that entered Kosovo in June after NATO's bombing campaign and the agreement by President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia to withdraw his forces from the province.

The barricades are still there, and the Russians are not. German and Dutch officers have promised not to remove the barriers by force.

Orahovac was the scene of fierce fighting in 1998 and 1999 between Serbian forces and Kosovo Albanian guerrillas, who have said Russian mercenaries committed atrocities when fighting alongside the Serbs.

Serbian delegates from across Kosovo met today to organize their own administration and defense force.

Serbian leaders argue that this is the only way to prevent remaining Serbs -- estimated at between 20,000 and 100,000 people -- from fleeing the province and attacks from Albanians seeking revenge for the killing of 10,000 of their own.