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Aliens are in control of Blair, say Serb psychics

THE EXHAUSTED citizenry of Serbia, bent double by war, poverty and isolation and short of news they can trust, are swallowing, not bread, but stories from the "other side".

But in traumatised Serbia the "other side" does not mean the Nato states. The effects of war appear to have awakened a massive interest in the world of the paranormal here. It is met by a range of new magazines, books and newspapers covering a world where alien creatures have control over Tony Blair and the US army is deploying squads of witches in a war of magic against Serbia.

Magazines such as Zona Sumraka (The Twilight Zone), Dosije X (X Files), Cudo (Miracle), Trece Oko (The Third Eye) and Fenomeni (Phenomena) have sprung up in the past two months. They offer escape to Serbs desperate to find relief from their grim surroundings.

The magazines appear to be the descendants of publications that specialised in lonely hearts, advice columns and romances. These progressed, via horoscopes and articles on how to match your wardrobe to your star sign, into a media twilight zone.

Many articles try to find spiritual rationales for the troubles that have befallen Serbia in recent months. In a lengthy article for the monthly Cudo, analyst Milan Vidojevic explains how the clandestine "Order of the Fourth Reich" is creating a new world order on behalf of Lucifer. Tellingly, the Order is being opposed only by the Chinese and Serbian governments.

Meanwhile Dr Todor Jovanovic tells Dosije X to beware the extra-terrestrials who have recently arrived on earth. They "radiate something diabolical, evil, poisonous..." They have a hold over the brains of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Nato's Javier Solana and other Western leaders, he writes.

"If one were to switch off the impulses radiated at the US president by the extra-terrestrials," Jovanovic says, "only a sax player would remain," while of his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, only "an elderly lady without ambitions".

Other stories seem to feed off the Serbian preoccupation with history and the traditional view that the country always has, and always will, stand alone against a host of enemies.

Just as the regime's propaganda portrays Nato as a loser in the war with Serbia, so too the extra-terrestrials miscalculated when they tangled with the Serbs. According to Jovanovic, the alien invaders have "wisely concluded that Serbia is crucial". It was why they have planned to "break" Serbia.

It seems the aliens are no mere arrivistes either. Para-psychologist Milorad Tomic claims that aliens have been plotting for 50 years to do down Serbia, signing a secret deal with former Communist leader Tito. An agreement was reached to allow bases to be set up on Yugoslavian territory in 1945.

To no one's surprise the aliens opted for Kosovo, where unusually strong "geomagnetic forces" make the province perfect for aliens, says Tomic, who claims to be a reincarnation of Nikola Tesla, the famous turn-of-the- century Yugoslavian scientist and associate of US inventor Thomas Edison.

Geomagnetic forces or not, Serbia is ready. According to Spasoje Vlajic, writing in Cudo, the Yugoslavian army has set up a special squad - the secretive para-psychology Unit 69 - to confront the black magic forces deployed by the US army. Vlajic, who played a key role, he says, in setting up the unit for the Yugoslavian general staff, warns his readers that "voodoo warriors and witches are already among US troops in Kosovo".

Vlajic cites an American magazine called The Military Review, and says US warlocks and witches trained at a secret base in Texas for their mission in Kosovo - which is to draw out and defeat the Serbian anti-magic Unit 69. The commander of the American unit is one Mary Palmer, a member of the US army military police, he adds authoritatively.

Since the war, dozens of Serbian "clairvoyants" and "paranormal experts" have stepped forward to join these publications, ready to give guidance of a kind to their bewildered readers as they struggle to find their bearings after 72 days of Nato bombing.

According to Dr Geoffrey Scobie, senior psychologist at the University of Glasgow, these current fixations betray serious emotional and identity problems in contemporary Serbian society. "People's belief in the paranormal increases when they lose confidence in material things," he says. "Traditional religious beliefs are not enough and so the paranormal is pursued to meet their need to believe in something."

Defeat for Nato features highly in many of the specialist publications now on sale in the Belgrade kiosks. The magazine Trece Oko predicts that domestic political conditions in alliance member states will deteriorate steadily, forcing Nato to withdraw by "by the end of this year, or by June 2000 at the latest".

Many expect Wednesday's solar eclipse to herald new troubles for the non-Russian K-FOR soldiers. Most troubling for Nato, however, will be the appearance of a Danube version of the Loch Ness monster - "Danube Nessi" - which was recently spotted by fisherman Milan Savin swimming by the destroyed bridges at Novi Sad.

Savin reports that Danube Nessi used to live in a tunnel below the Danube and the city's historic Varadin Fortress, but the Nato bombs forced it up to the surface. Now Nessi cruises the river looking for victims. Nato had better beware.

Bojan Toncic is a journalist with the Institute For War & Peace Reporting.