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05 Oct 10

Slobodan Milosevic - The Dictator

Widely known as the Butcher of the Balkans, Slobodan Milosevic was driven by his ambition to rule regardless of its cost and set the Balkans Ablaze.

Bojana Barlovac

As high school kid in the mid 50s, Milosevic showed his commitment to communism by  participating in youth voluntary action organised by the party to help renovate the war devastated country.

He took part in the construction of a highway between Zagreb and Belgrade, which became known as the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity.

He married his high school sweetheart Mirjana Markovic who many accused of ruling from the shadows encouraging the sometimes awkward and confused Milosevic to get what she wanted at any price.

“We were all into sports, but he was devoted to his future wife… He didn’t have a best friend like the rest of us… He had his Baca [Mirjana Markovic],” a high school friend of the couple said .  

He rose to prominence in 1987. Almost overnight Milosevic becomes recognised as a spokesperson for Serbs nationalistsin the federation after he stood behind Serbs in Kosovo, who claimed they were being oppressed by Kosovo Albanians.

"From now on, no one has the right to beat you," he said in his famous Kosovo speech after hearing the grievances of the Serb minority living there.

Just five months after these promises Milosevic overthrew his friend and mentor Ivan Stambolic, whose murder he allegedly ordered thirteen years later.

Milosevic’s detractors accuse him of inciting Serbian nationalism in a murderous drive to carve a "Greater Serbia" from the ruins of Yugoslavia, his small band of supporters insist that he was a peacemaker who wanted to preserve Yugoslavia.

Driven by their communist zeal, Milosevic and his wife ruled with extensive use of violence and threats, and  imprisoned or eliminated political opponents.

Analysing the moves he made during his 13-year-old reign, it is clear that  Milosevic was motivated by his ambition to rule. First to take control of Yugoslavia and become the new Tito. And after the failure of that mission he turned to nationalism as a solution to grasp and maintain his grip on power.

Hundreds of thousands of people who were killed and millions who were forced to leave their homes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo became bare victims of his fixated ambitions only, as is widely believed.

The Butcher of the Balkans, as some call him, has also pitted his fellow Serbs against the entire world. He had been preserving the created atmosphere by exercising severe media censorship and introducing restrictions on free speech to prevent any criticism.

Another wave of nationalism has hit him in 1998 when he got himself on the verge of political crisis with conflict in Kosovo being intensified and when reports on atrocities made by Serbian paramilitary forces against Kosovo Albanians appeared.

He was forced to halt military operations and allow NATO forces to take control of Kosovo but only after NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999.

He was defeated in Kosovo, the pivotal point of his rising “power”.

He died of a heart attack before verdict in his prison cell in The Hague in March 2006 while on trial for war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

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