Secret police stay loyal to Milosevic

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The revolution on the streets may be over, but behind the scenes in Serbia, other revolutions are still going on. While President Vojislav Kostunica is toasted by EU leaders in Biarritz, his allies at home are still trying to prise the last of Slobodan Milosevic's cronies out of the powerful positions they desperately cling to.

The revolution on the streets may be over, but behind the scenes in Serbia, other revolutions are still going on. While President Vojislav Kostunica is toasted by EU leaders in Biarritz, his allies at home are still trying to prise the last of Slobodan Milosevic's cronies out of the powerful positions they desperately cling to.

At the same time, Mr Milosevic's former allies look increasingly keen to ditch the discredited former president. His picture has abruptly disappeared from his Socialist Party of Serbia's website. The Glas Javnosti daily newspaper reported yesterday that the Belgrade branch of the Party of Serbia had sent Mr Milosevic a letter "asking for changes in the party leadership", and saying that "state bodies and a part of the party leadership either made improper decisions or betrayed the party".

All the while, the deposed Mr Milosevic skulks in his Belgrade villa using, say some, what influence he has left to ensure the transfer of power is as difficult as possible, ordering his allies to delay their departure from positions of influence.

Perhaps most worrying for Mr Kostunica, much of the State Security, the hated secret police, appears to remain faithful to Mr Milosevic.

Rade Markovic, chief of the murky organisation, has pointedly neglected to recognise Mr Kostunica as the new president, and a lieutenant-colonel who went over to the Kostunica side says that the secret police is still briefing Mr Milosevic on every development.

But the regular police have joined Mr Kostunica in their droves. Some of them helped in the storming of parliament, and when the defiant Serbian prime minister, Mirko Marjanovic, issued orders to them to regain control of television and other state institutions last week, they ignored him. The move fell flat, and he had to return to the negotiating table.

Talks to prise Mr Marjanovic and his colleagues out of power continued into the early hours yesterday. Technically, the government of Serbia - the larger of Yugoslavia's two remaining republics - is still in office, as the elections that swept Mr Milosevic aside were on a federal level. Last week, it threatened to rule on, and yesterday backed away from a deal for Serbian elections to take place on 24 December. Mr Kostunica's allies appear to have agreed to the inclusion of a socialist prime minister in the transitional government that will rule until elections do take place.

Meanwhile, workers have held their own revolutions in state-owned companies across Serbia to eject Mr Milosevic's cronies from boardrooms. Overall-wearing workers are at the helm of huge conglomerations, invoking workers' committee legislation left over from the days of Marshal Tito.

In many firms, Mr Milosevic's men are resigning. But workers had to storm their own offices at the Progress import/export plant last week, when the chairman of the board refused to resign and attempted to have them barred from the building. That chairman is Mirko Marjanovic.

With the people, army and police behind him, Mr Kostunica looks safe from any challenge by Mr Milosevic or the socialists. But enemies are not his only worry - he has said he is getting almost as much trouble "from my friends".

The Chief of Staff, Nebojsa Pavkovic, tainted by his close alliance with Mr Milosevic, is trying to ingratiate himself with the new president. But as he does so, a row is simmering between Mr Kostunica and Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian kingmaker, who wants Mr Pavkovic replaced with his own man.

The unpopular Mr Djindjic could never have beaten Mr Milosevic in elections - but Mr Kostunica could not have done it without the support of Mr Djidjic's influential Democratic Party. But now that alliance is unravelling.

While the Socialist Party, even without Mr Milosevic, won't be winning any elections soon, it is worth remembering that, in all of the post-Communist countries of Eastern Europe that had their revolutions a decade ago, "reformed" party cronies and apparatchiks are back in government.

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