'Arkan' widow sings on her birthday

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Ceca, the widow of Serbia's notorious warlord Zeljko Raznatovic, who was known as Arkan, has drawn record crowds at an open-air concert in Belgrade attended by more than 100,000 people who saw the icon of "turbo folk" strut her stuff.

Dressed in white, Svetlana "Ceca" Raznatovic celebrated her 33rd birthday and 18 years on stage in front of euphoric fans, mostly young, who sang along with her for three hours on Saturday night.

At one point, she thanked them for "support in suffering and pain in the past" and wept on stage.

Ceca is one of the nationalist survivors of Serbia, which has undergone dramatic changes since the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Recently, she sang at a wedding of a Serb drug lord in Argentina. In 2003, she spent four months in prison for allegedly providing shelter to assassins of Serbia's reform-oriented Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic.

In 2000, her husband died in her arms after being gunned down in a Belgrade hotel. She cherishes a romantic image of Arkan, who was 22 years her senior and the most prominent criminal-turned-patriot in the wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. She had two children with Arkan whose paramilitary units committed numerous war crimes against non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.

But Ceca's reputation has not suffered for that. Her fans seem not to care, as they arrived on Saturday from all over Serbia and the rest of the former Yugoslav republics.