The Guardian May 30, 2001


Ukraine: Free Milosevic campaign

On May 5, the powerful Peasant Party in the Ukraine launched a "Freedom 
for Slobodan Milosevic" campaign. The Party set up 449 action committees to 
collect signatures demanding Milosevic's immediate release from jail. As of 
May 16 they had collected 500,000 signatures. The petition and a covering 
letter were sent to Yugoslav President Kostunica and others.

The petition, addressed to President Kostunica, said:

"Stating the will of hundreds of thousands of citizens of Ukraine, we 
address to you the demand that you release from the walls of his jail the 
great citizen of Yugoslavia, that is, of that country which by an accident 
of history you lead. In demanding that you take this action we count on 
your honourable relationship with the heroic past of your very much 
suffering but never broken people and with its best sons such as the 
steadfast leader of the Socialist Party, Slobodan Milosevic."

According to Ukrainian activists, the petition was signed by a number of 
leaders of leftist parties, by deputies who are Heroes of the Soviet Union, 
by directors of social organisations, leaders of NGOs, as well as prominent 
artists, writers, musicians, scientists, students, directors of various 
companies and so on.

The Ukrainian activists are sending a similar letter to the United Nations, 
to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to the OSCE, and to 
the leaderships of Russia, Belarus, Greece and the Parliamentary opposition 
in all the NATO countries.

Meanwhile, 92 out of 130 members of the Upper House of the Russian 
Parliament have signed an equally strong statement demanding the Russian 
Government take action in this case.

The Russian statement was circulated among members of the Federal Council 
(Upper House). While the Council is not the main legislative body it does 
include all provincial Governors as well as mayors of the biggest cities.

The signatories, including members of President Putin's Unity Party, called 
on Mr Putin and the Russian Government to take immediate action to secure 
the release of Mr Milosevic.

"We cannot understand how it is possible that those who used armed force to 
bomb the cities and villages of Yugoslavia, trampling all human values 
without any justification in International law, are now trying to destroy 
one of the greatest Yugoslav and world politicians, the former President of 
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a true patriot of his country.

"The attack on Milosevic is an attempt to avoid the punishment for the 
crimes they committed directly and for encouraging genocide against the 
Serbian population of Kosovo.

"We protest the policy of the United States and NATO countries in the 
Balkans and demand that the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic cease. We 
declare our support and solidarity for Slobodan Milosevic in this most 
difficult struggle.

"We appeal to the President and Government of the Russian Federation: Take 
action to defend the former President of the Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia, a country which has always been Russia's most reliable friend!"

The council members have also signed the petition being circulated by the 
newly formed Russian Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic.

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