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CNN Today

Milosevic Still Defiant

Aired December 12, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Serbian elections are less than two weeks off, and a pro-democracy coalition expects to win and remove residual Milosevic supporters from Serb institutions. But the former strongman Milosevic won't give up. He recently was reelected as Socialist Party president, and his party will run in the upcoming elections.

CNN's Belgrade bureau chief Alessio Vinci has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Marginalized, isolated, and with the state media no longer supporting him, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic chose a small, private television station to deliver his message to the Serbian people.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, FMR. YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT (through translator): I do not need to explain what is so obvious in every store, in every market, and in every home. They can see it by themselves. The simple question is: Is there anybody who does not see how worse the situation is now than it was at the end of September?

VINCI: Things are worse in the streets and markets of Belgrade. Most food prices have recently soared and salaries remain low. But few people appear ready to again trust the man most blame for creating the economic mess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm happy to see things have changed. I'm happy to see they are not the way they were. I'm happy because of my children, because of the young generation. I expect things to be better, and they will be better, because they cannot be worse than they were.

VINCI: In a two-hour interview, Milosevic defended his 11-year rule as president, glossing over four lost wars in which tens of thousands of people died. And he denounced The Hague War Crimes Tribunal, which has indicted him for crimes committed by Serb forces in Kosovo.

MILOSEVIC (through translator): I do not recognize that institution. It is a political institution, and it is a part of the machinery that wants to destroy the Serb nation. They have proven this all the time, and it is a completely illegal institution. VINCI: But while a trial in The Hague may be years away, if ever, the new Democratic leadership says Milosevic will soon have to face justice in Serbia.

ZORAN DJINDJIC, DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER: I think we do not need so much time to raise the question about how can a man with $1,000 a monthly salary have millions and billions of dollars? That is an interesting question, and people will have the rights to know the answers.

VINCI: Milosevic's interview is another indication he has no intention to step out of the political arena.

(on camera): But the upcoming parliamentary elections will likely remove whatever residual power and influence Milosevic may have left in Serbia. Without that, his period of judicial grace may soon come to a quick end.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Belgrade.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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