Hundreds of Bosnian Serbs voted Sunday in the Yugoslav capital on an international peace plan their leaders have already condemned, defying opposition by Belgrade authorities.
Bosnian Serbs were determined to give an overwhelming `No' vote to the plan crafted by the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.Serb-led Yugoslavia, desperate to have crippling economic sanctions lifted, supported the plan and cut off supplies to Bosnia's Serbs when their leaders rejected it earlier this month.
The plan would reduce Serb holdings to 49 percent of Bosnia's territory, from the 70 percent they seized during the war. A federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, who have accepted the plan, would have 51 percent.
Serb President Slobodan Milosevic branded the weekend referendum a crude attempt by Bosnian Serb leaders to shift responsibility for a bad decision to ill-informed voters.
Milosevic was meeting Sunday night in Belgrade with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. They were expected to discuss a proposal to ease the sanctions if the Serb leader allows international monitors on the border with Bosnia to ensure his break with the Bosnian Serbs is real.
Bosnian Serbs said Friday that Serb officials would not allow voting in Serbia proper. But balloting was held anyway, with no apparent interference by Serb police. By mid-afternoon Sunday, some 1,500 Bosnian Serbs had voted in downtown Belgrade.
"This is a disgrace," Vladimir Karadzic, a 67-year-old Bosnian Serb refugee said as he cast his "No" vote. "We have to sneak and hide if we want to say what we think about the plan.
"We want to express support for (Bosnian Serb leader Radovan) Karadzic," said the voter, who is not related to him.