War In Europe: Private nightmare, public persecution

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC was born in the Serb town of Pozarevac, and joined the Communist Party at 18. While still a teenager, he met his wife Mira Markovic, now leader of a left-wing political party and seen by many as a key power behind the throne. His family background was disturbed: his father, an Orthodox priest, shot himself; his mother hanged herself; his uncle shot himself.

Through the 1970s and early 1980s, he had an unremarkable career. In 1978, he became president of a Belgrade bank, and later Communist Party leader in the city. His meteoric rise began in 1987, when he staged a palace coup and harnessed nationalism to bolster his own power. Famously, he told Serbs in the Albanian-majority province of Kosovo: "Nobody shall beat you."

His most glorious popular moment came in June 1989, on the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, when a Serb rally became a hymn of glory for the adored Serb Communist leader. Leaders of other republics in Yugoslavia were dragooned into appearing at the rally, to their discomfort.

As communism collapsed across the region, the Serb Communist Party reinvented itself as the Socialist Party. Milosevic became Serb president as well as party leader, and brought state television under his personal control. Distorted media coverage became a key way of stoking ethnic hatreds.

In modern Serbia the seat of power can best be defined as "the job that Milosevic currently holds". When he became Serb president, that was the centre of power. After the maximum two terms as Serb president, he became president of the rump Yugoslav federation - a post that now became all- powerful. Anti-government demon- strations in Belgrade in March 1991 were suppressed. Slovenia and Croatia sought a looser confederation, and then voted to secede. Milosevic, claiming to be the "protector of Yugoslavia" sent the army in for a two-week and a six-month war, respectively. The republics' independence was internationally recognised at the end of 1991. Bosnia, isolated in a Serb-dominated federation, was the next to be embroiled in a war which it had long feared.

Milosevic held European negotiators at bay from 1992 to 1995, promising an end to the war but never delivering. In 1995 he signed up for the Dayton accords that brought partial peace to Bosnia. The Serb victories turned to Serb losses. Croatia launched a blitzkrieg which resulted in the expulsion of Serbs from their homes. This disaster was passed over in silence; Milosevic was portrayed as the "statesman" who had brought peace.

In winter 1996-97, anti-Milosevic demonstrations were held in many Serbian cities. Yet again, he survived. In 1998 a long-simmering conflict in Kosovo, where Albanians had been stripped of basic rights, broke into the open. Milosevic hopes to go down in history as Serbia's doughty defender; critics see him as the country's destroyer.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

    £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

    QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

    £35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

    Property Finance Partner

    Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

    Agile Tester

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried