Milosevic clan and cronies hit hard by bombings

Network of Power
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The Independent Online
THE RADIO station where President Milosevic's daughter is editor in chief is among the latest high-profile casualties of Nato's bombing raids over Yugoslavia. Yesterday the station run by Marija Milosevic was engulfed by the same flames that torched her father's Serbian Socialist Party offices.

On Tuesday it was the turn of her brother Marko to suffer, as Nato jets rocketed a cigarette factory in the southern city of Nis. Marko - a fashionably dressed young man with a penchant for fast cars - is known to hold a big stake in the tobacco industry. As does Zivota Kosic, Milosevic's minister of energy and boss of Duvanska Industrija Nis, a cigarette company in the city.

Earlier this week, Nato's attacks on oil refineries at Novi Sad and Pancevo blew a hole in the pockets of one of Mr Milosevic's chief political allies, Dragan Tomic, director of Yugo Petrol and speaker of the Belgrade parliament.

The choice of targets has led to speculation that Nato is attacking industries owned by the Milosevic clan and its political allies. Such a strategy would be aimed at disrupting the unofficial network of power, patronage and corruption on which the President's authority over Yugoslavia rests.

One American officer was quoted this week as saying that Nato was striking on purpose at "the things that keep Milosevic afloat", to "instill fear in those whose economic standing depends on Mr Milosevic". In fact, it would be difficult for Nato not to hit the assets of the Milosevic entourage as it pummels military and industrial targets thought to be connected to the war in Kosovo.

After 10 years of near-absolute power in Serbia, the President has franchised virtually the whole of the economy to his relatives, and to key political allies such as his deputy prime minister, Vojislav Seselj, and underworld figures such as the paramilitary boss Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan.

Most of the Serbian economy is state-owned - a hangover from Communism - so the President's above-board powers of patronage are huge. The rackets, such as money-changing, drugs and contraband, are shared out under the table. Mr Seslej, for example, is known to "handle" all the pickings of the rich Belgrade suburb of Zemun while Arkan at one time ran the rackets in Kosovo, where he was briefly an MP.

"Yugoslavia is a state based on nepotism," Jamie Shea, the Nato spokesman, said this week. "It's almost impossible to strike at any target without ruining the stocks and shares of one of Mr Milosevic's ministers or his own family, because they are the state."