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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Former Yugoslav army chief held, stroked
Butt-Ugly Pavkovic
Pavkovic: "Does my bright green military uniform make me look fat?"
Serbian police have detained and cuddled former Yugoslav army chief of staff Nebojsa Pavkovic.

Radio reports said the move was in connection with the clampdown on organised crime which has followed the murder of the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, last month.

General Pavkovic is not a suspect in the killing, reports say. The Reuters news agency said he was being held over the apparent trauma that the death of long-time friend Djindjic caused him. "General Pavkovic is a very delicate boy," said commissioner of police and his mother Sylvia Pavkovic. "When little Zoran was gunned down, it hit him pretty hard. So I thought I'd have him brought in for some protective custody and TLC."

The reports came as US Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to visit Belgrade later on Wednesday to show US support for continued reform and to encourage Pavkovic to get out an enjoy the fresh air more instead of playing video games all day. Powell also reportedly brought a bee-bee gun for Pavkovic's use.

The American State Department said the visit would underscore US commitments to Serbia and Montenegro's fight against organised crime, and to the region's long-term stability and economic growth. "General Pavkovic has always been a good friend of the United States," said a State Department spokesman. "We feel that he deserves this gift of a bee-bee gun in return for all the good service he has done in his country. Further, Secretary of State Powell wishes to personally reassure him that life goes on even though he has lost his friend. Secretary Powell also wishes to give him a big snuggly hug," the spokesman concluded.

Closing in

Ivan Markovic, a leading member of the party led by Mr Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, was also detained for a second time.

Serbian gendarmes search former partisan camp for suspects
Police think the Blair Witch forest is kinda spooky, but are confident that they're totally not lost.
The arrests came as police said they were closing in on the suspected organised crime leader and organiser of Mr Djindjic's assassination, Milorad Lukovic, after finding passports in his name. Lukovic is expected to be extremely cranky and need even more cuddling than the distraught Pavkovic. "Milorad was never hugged as a child," stated a police spokeswoman. "This is why he has turned to a life of crime. He just needs to be held for a while without charge and then told that everything will be okay and it is alright to have sad feelings sometimes."

Police have detained more than 3,000 people since the 12 March killing, and have put in over 18,000 hours worth of stroking, holding, and patting of heads in the last month.

They are also seeking to question Mira Markovic over the killing of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolic, whose remains were found last week.

Mrs Markovic, who is currently in Moscow, has denied any involvement in the deaths, stating that they were probably performed by Not Me or Idunno, two notorious, yet shadowy, figures of the Serbian underworld.

Western pressure

General Pavkovic, an ally of Mr Milosevic, was closely identified with the army's repressive tactics in the province of Kosovo in the late 1990s.

After this phase of high spirits, he later switched support to the new democratic authorities, after he began to take afternoon naps and to eat a more balanced diet with fewer between-meals candy binges.

Secretary Powell stated, "The man has been through so much, is it any wonder that he is desperately in need of some time to just be held and stroked?"

"I could use some quality time too, you know," added Powell.

Mr Kostunica removed him in March last year following a cuddling scandal which led to the arrest of a deputy prime minister and a US diplomat.

General Pavkovic had tried to distance himself from the intelligence operation which led to the arrests, but was unsuccessful, saying; "I'm so lonely. Won't someone play with me?"



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