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Local officials defend anti-state protests

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Lawmakers in the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia Thursday rejected the central government's claim that recent harrassment of military families and popular support for two imprisoned journalists threaten national security.

The Yugoslav Communist Party and military leaders have charged that anti-military articles in Slovenian youth newspapers are part of a 'counterrevolution' promoted by a propaganda campaign directed from outside the country and aimed at undermining the government.

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An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people gathered Tuesday in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana to protest the arrests this month of journalists Janez Jansa and David Tasic and Sgt. Maj. Ivan Borstner.

The arrests came after a military investigative judge instituted legal proceedings against the three men on charges of revealing military secrets in Mladina, the weekly newspaper of the Slovenian Youth Union.

The parliament in Slovenia, the richest and most liberal of Yugoslavia's six republics, said Thursday that it 'rejects assessments that the events in the republic endanger the political and security situation in the state and that these events have characteristics of counterrevolution and special warfare.'

Belgrade newspapers quoted Yugoslav army spokesman Col. Tomislav Ljubic as saying that hostility toward military personnel has increased in Slovenia over the past three months.

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Ljubic said innkeepers in the republic have refused to serve soldiers and that some officers have received anonymous threatening telephone calls.

He said others have gotten fraudulent calls from people posing as law enforcement authorities and saying that their children were killed in traffic accidents.

The children of some soldiers have been ostracized by their peers at school, Ljubic said.

Jansa, Tasic and Borstner are under investigation for alleged illegal possession of a secret document about the Yugoslav military's combat readiness.

Tasic is the editor of Mladina. Jansa, a candidate for president of the youth organization, is a free-lance journalist who has written numerous articles criticizing the military, many of them published in Mladina.

Borstner, a non-commissioned officer, was an apparent source of information for articles published by Mladina last month, in which the newspaper alleged that Slovenia narrowly escaped a military coupe in mid-March and detailed planned arrests of intellectuals to suppress freedom of expression in the republic.

The case has sparked a backlash against military personnel in Slovenia.

The republican parliament condemned the harassment of military families, but it rejected the central government's claims that the popular support for the three suspects endangers Yugoslavia's political security.

In a statement broadcast on state-run Radio Belgrade, the parliament urged Slovenians to 'develop good relations' with the army.

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