News 11 Jan 18

Slobodan Milosevic Revived in Kosovo Serbs’ Musical

A musical staged by a Serb theatre ensemble from Kosovo about the 1999 war and Serb-Albanian relations will feature late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as the “tragic protagonist”.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Milosevic with US President Bill Clinton in 1995. Photo: Wikipedia/CIA.

The Serb National Theatre from Pristina said it plans to tell the story of life in Kosovo in the form of a musical featuring the late Yugoslav strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic and his wife Mira Markovic, which is to premiere in March.

“This is not just a play about Sloba [Milosevic] and Mira, it is first and foremost about the people who live down there [in Kosovo],” said the director, Nenad Todorovic.

The musical by the Serb-run theatre, which relocated to Gracanica in 1999, is being rehearsed at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade.

Todorovic told BIRN that the first part of the musical, entitled ‘Lift’, will juxtapose the Milosevic family’s life with the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo amid growing tensions in the 1990s.

In its second part, the play will turn into a “Racine-esque tragedy” in which Milosevic defends himself from accusations of war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Milosevic died of a heart attack in his cell in The Hague in March 2006 before the verdict in his trial was handed down.

While getting ready to direct the play, Todorovic said he read tens of thousands of pages of court records from the Hague Tribunal. He said that they contained “relatively idiotic charges” as well as “clear evidence of grave crimes”.

“After my research, I personally consider Milosevic just a shrewd politician who loved being in power and got caught in historical circumstances that he helped accelerate, but which would have happened without him,” Todorovic said.

He said he sees the former president as a “tragic protagonist” who can either be described as “the butcher of the Balkans” or as a victim of circumstance - but he added that the play will not try to answer the question of who Milosevic was.

He believes Milosevic personified what Serbs wanted as a nation in the 1990s, which he said was to “reform” Yugoslavia to reclaim the status they had in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, before the Constitution of 1974 which gave more autonomy to the Kosovo and Vojvodina provincial governments.

“This was obviously impossible, and the greatest price of this [policy] was paid by the population, including us, Serbs from Kosovo,” he said.

He said he believes that the Kosovo Serb population now lives in the “last European apartheid”, isolated in enclaves and worried that their children will be heard speaking Serbian in Albanian-owned stores.

Todorovic said he does not expect any the reaction from Kosovo Albanians to the portrayal of Milosevic.

“Since they chased us out of Pristina in 1999, we haven’t communicated... the Pristina authorities, the public and intellectuals ignore us, so I do not expect a reaction,” he explained.

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