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Marko's Empire Falters

Slobodan Milosevic's son, Marko, is suffering an expected downturn in his business fortunes.
By Marko Ruzic

The financial fortunes of Marko Milosevic, the Yugoslav president's son, have been hit by a commercial boycott of his Pozarevac business empire.


The boycott, which have seriously affected some of his most high profile business ventures in the town, began in May after his bodyguards beat up several OTPOR activists in front of scores of passers-by.


The public's revulsion over the incident was heightened when the authorities put the victims on trial for the attempted murder of their assailants. The trial was postponed after three judges assigned to the case withdrew.


One of the earliest casualties of the boycott was one of Marko's flagship businesses. The "Madonna" nightclub, which used to regularly attract thousands of revellers from Pozarevac and beyond, was shut down in June.


It was a major blow for Milosevic junior as the discotheque, the biggest in the Balkans, had only just been reopened after expensive renovation work - which included the installation of sophisticated laser, video and sound equipment.


The relaunch was a lavish affair " The ceremeony was glamorous -the Belgrade jet set were there with their expensive jeeps and cars," said Marianja Jovanovic, a Pozeravac student." At midnight fireworks exploded in the sky over the town. It was a display that would have made the Chinese envious."


Milosevic-owned Radio "Madonna" appears to heading for a similar fate as the nightclub, where its been based for the past three years. The broadcaster has recently featured noticeably fewer commercials from local private enterprises.


Marko's attempts to exploit the cyber revolution are also failing. He set up the region's first and only internet provider, but his subscribers have now abandoned him.


More worrying for Marko is the demise of "Bambi Park". A sort of Yugoslav version of Disneyland, and considered to be one of his biggest investment,the centre is attracting a fraction of the crowds that have turned up daily over the past twelve months or so.


The centre, which cost around one million German marks, was built during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia last summer. Marko boasted that work continued on the site while the air-raid sirens were sounding.


The entertainments complex was busy for much of the last year. Attendances were often topped up, however, by ordering schools to include visits to Pozarevac and the "Bambi Park" in their schedule of outings - much to the annoyance and resentment of many parents.


With so few people visiting the centre, it now only opens at weekends, staging performances by Yugoslav pop and folk musicians and sports tournaments.


Marko's fortunes have plunged to such an extent that he is now reduced to selling off goods from his "Cybernet" shop at knock-down prices.


But despite his recent disappointments, Marko appears determined to persevere with his business activities, albeit more modestly than before. He recently opened a new bakery and pizzeria, distributing hundreds of free loaves of bread in a publicity stunt.


Marko Ruzic is the pseudonym for a journalist from Pozarevac.


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