A leading Yugoslav emigre politician known to be closely linked with Soviet authorities has told an attorney that he was kidnapped in Switzerland and forcibly taken to Yugoslavia to face trial, it was disclosed here yesterday.
Mileta Perovic, 54, who has been one of the key leaders of anti-Tito emigres living in the Soviet Union, said he was drugged and beaten by unidentified men while visiting Switzerland last July. He said he was subsequently smuggled into Yugoslavia and he is now in a Yugoslav jail charged with plotting against the state and attempting to bring Yugoslavia under Soviet influence.
His trial, along with that of another pro-Soviet Emigre, is due to take place in the next few months and will almost certainly prove embarrassing to the already delicate relations between Moscow and Belgrade.
According to the official indictment, Perovic was chief ideologist and organizer behind the establishment of an illegal pro-Moscow Communist Party at a secret congress in the Yugoslav seaport of Bar in 1974. Although Perovic did not attend the congress himself - most of the actual participants were arrested and imprisoned - he was allegedly elected secretary-general of the party.
If his story is true, Perovic could be the second key emigre politician apparently kidnaped by Yugoslav agents. The Tito government began a crackdown on pro-Soviet Yugoslavs following revelations about the existence of an illegal pro-Moscow party here.
Vlado Dapoevic was reportedly kidnaped by Yugoslav agents while on a visit to Romania in 1975 and forcibly taken to Yugoslavia. Charged with anti-state activities and treason, he was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to a 20-yeaar prison term.
Both men belonged to a group of prominent Communists who sided with Moscow in the 1948 Tito-Stalin dispute. They were imprisoned but were released in 1956 in an amnesty that marked a thaw in Soviet-Yugoslav relations.
In 1958, both men led a group of anti-Tito activists who shot their way across the Yugoslav-Albanian border into Albania, then moved to Kiev, in th Soviet Union. They developed a center for anti-Tito exiles there.
Perovic left the Soviet Union in December 1975, following Yugoslav protests over his activity. Over the next two years, he spent time in France, Belgium, Israel, Bulgaria and Britain.
Another member of the so-called Kiev group, Bogdan Jovavic, is also awaiting trial in Belgrade after arriving in Yugoslavia in unexplained circumstances.
The official version of Perovic's arrest, which was only briefly reported here last November, is that he was detained by Yugoslav security police on Yugoslav territory. Just how he got to Yugoslavia has not been explained, however.
During recent prison interviews, Perovic told his lawyer, Jovan Barovic, that he was captured by an "international gang" while staying near Zurich last July. He said he was brought back to Yugoslavia in the trunk of a car. Once back on Yugoslav soil, he said he was promptly arrested by a uniformed Yugoslav policeman.
Perovic's story is that he went to Switzerland in order to meet an old friend, Mirjana Obradovic, whom he had known while in prison in Yugoslavia in the early 1950s.
Soon after arriving at a boarding house in the village of Paradiso near Zurich, Perovic alleges that he was attacked by six men, the leader of whom spoke Italian and claimed to belong to a right-wing fascist organization. He was told he was being kidnaped and a $200,000 dollar ransom was demanded for his release.
Perovic provided the kidnapers with names and addresses of friends who might be willing to pay the ransom. He alleges that the leader of the band later told him that his friends had refused to pay, but that he would not be killed. Instead he was told, "we will do something even worse to you."
Perovic said he was hooded and drugged, dragged on foot across hills and shoved into the back of a car.
Barovic, who is known for his defense of political prisoners in Yugoslavia, has said he wants to talk to Yugoslav and Swiss officials about the circumstances in which Perovic left Switzerland. He has also said that he was illegally prevented from seeing his client in prison until recently.
The lawyer said that Perovic was in extremely poor health, both physically and mentally.
Foreign diplomats here are bewildered by the implications of the trial, which comes after a relative lull in talk about pro-Soviet activity in Yugoslavia. Between 1974 and 1976, about 60 members of the illegal anti-Tito Communist Party were tried and imprisoned.
Although the Soviet Union has taken care to officially separate itself from the emigres, their existence has been a perennial irritant in talks between Moscow and Belgrade. Their activities often provide a kind of barometer of the real state of relations between the two countries.