Slobodan Milosevic's allies have apparently deserted him en masse as a citizen army hundreds of thousands strong throngs Belgrade in support of the opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica. After several days of successful general strikes in the countryside and smaller towns, opposition supporters descended on the capital in huge convoys yesterday and seized control of the federal parliament building after encountering only brief and sporadic resistance from the police. The reluctance of the police to prop up Milosevic's regime was matched by the nation's military leaders, who met yesterday to discuss their response to this relatively nonviolent revolution. Though they issued no formal statement, it has become increasingly clear that the army will not act to disperse the demonstrators or maintain Milosevic in power. Another and perhaps final blow to the Serbian president came today when Russia, Serbia's most powerful and consistent ally, recognized Mr. Kostunica as president-elect. Milosevic is rumored to be in Belgrade, where he apparently met with the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, to discuss the handover of power. In addition to securing control of the major media outlets in Serbia, the opposition under Mr. Kostunica has announced the creation of a crisis committee to govern the country and secure order after several days of a political vacuum. They hope to convene the new federal parliament on Saturday to swear Kostunica in as president. In a show of support for the opposition, European Union leaders have indicated that sanctions against Serbia may be lifted as early as Monday. While many questions remain, not the least Mr. Milosevic's indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal, it does indeed appear that he has fallen from power faster and with less violence than anyone might have predicted.


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