Serbs Unplug CNN

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How real can a war be if CNN isn't there filming the incoming missiles? The Serbs seem unable to decide the answer. The Serbian government on Thursday ordered journalists from all NATO countries to leave Serbia immediately. But the federal government of Yugoslavia said they could stay as long as they were objective. It will be left to President Milosevic to resolve the mixed message. Underscoring the threat to journalists, one of Milosevic's most feared goons on Wednesday paid a visit to the hotel where most Western journalists are staying. "Arkan, commander of the Tiger unit notorious for its brutal role in 'ethnic cleansing' operations in Bosnia, showed up at the Belgrade Hyatt last night and warned all of us to leave," says TIME correspondent Ed Barnes. "The situation is getting very tough for foreigners, because local people have very few outlets to take out their mounting anger."

Unlike their colleagues inside Kosovo who are more exposed in smaller cities such as Pristina, Western reporters who seek refuge away from the hotels may still be able to file from Belgrade for some time even if Milosevic upholds the expulsion order. "A handful of us will stay here and keep on reporting," says Barnes. "We'll go on for as long as we can." And more power to them.

  • Read Ed Barnes's daily updates from Belgrade.

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