Milosevic Network Unravels

Despite retaining the SPS leadership Slobodan Milosevic's world is crumbling.

Milosevic Network Unravels

Despite retaining the SPS leadership Slobodan Milosevic's world is crumbling.

Tuesday, 6 September, 2005

Slobodan Milosevic's recent re-election as leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, SPS, for so long the dominant force in Serbian politics, has done little to restore the former president's fortunes.

His re-election has divided the SPS and caused many of his former allies to leave the party to form their own political organisations. Milosevic's most ardent fans, who hail mostly from his stronghold in Pozarevac, are desperate.

After his appearance at the SPS main committee meeting during the recent emergency congress in Belgrade, Milosevic retreated once again to his fortress in Dedinje, a posh suburb of the Serbian capital. He rarely leaves the house. Those still loyal to the former president visit him at home or communicate by phone.

On a rare trip into town, Milosevic recently visited JUBMES bank to meet his closest associates. He was flanked by bodyguards throughout.

The Milosevic clan - his wife Mira Markovic, daughter Marija and son Marko - now have to eat humble pie.

Mira Markovic, leader of the Party of the Yugoslav Left, JUL, was elected in September by her Pozarevac constituency to be their federal deputy. But nowadays she visits her home in the town in secret. The house is under constant police surveillance.

Demonstrators recently gathered outside the Pozarevac offices of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, DOS, demanding that she be recalled as the town's federal representative. A petition was organised on the basis Markovic no longer represented the electorate's interests - three thousand locals signed it.

Shortly after the Pozarevac protests, Markovic did venture out to a session of the federal assembly, entering the building through a side door.

Marko Milosevic, according to rumours in Pozarevac, is still in Russia and makes frequent visits to China. Zoran Milovanovic, a former waiter at Marko's Madona nightclub and an Otpor (Resistance) activist in the town, has filed charges against Milosevic junior.

He claims Marko and his bodyguards attacked him on March 7 this year, putting a gun in his mouth and threatening to cut him to pieces with a chainsaw.

According to IWPR sources, Marko keeps in touch with his associates by phone, instructing them to revive his flagging Pozarevac business empire - the Madona nightclub, the Bambiland entertainment complex, an internet café and bakery.

But efforts to reopen the Non-Stop Bakery in the town centre have failed. The bakery, on the ground floor of an apartment block, had been trashed during the October anti-Milosevic protests. When workmen turned up to repair the damage, the building's residents and Otpor activists drove them off.

"Some skinheads arrived with a policeman to repair the windows and other damage to the shop," said Mile Milosevic, a photographer and resident in the building. "We objected to this so we smashed them again.

"When I wanted to renovate my flat I needed the signatures of all eight neighbours. Marko didn't need a thing. He just opened up a bakery, which produces a lot of heat and makes living here impossible."

Another tenant in the building, a psychiatrist Dr Vojin Kuzmanovic, said the local authorities had handed the ground floor premises over to a company called Agropromet Tekstil in early 2000.

The company, the doctor said, immediately sold the space to Marko for over 80,000 German marks but were only paid the money after the September elections and five days before Marko fled Pozarevac.

Likewise efforts to restart Radio Madona - an offshoot of the nightclub - have floundered. Employees, fearful of provoking the wrath of Pozarevac's citizens, refused to come back to work.

One of the station's employees, who wished to remain anonymous, said the director, Milica Dabic, had telephoned the staff to say Marko was insisting they get Radio Madona back on air.

"We said no because we thought such a move would further irritate people," the employee said." We were told that Marko was furious."

Marko's wife Milica Gajic, who had been seen around Pozarevac after the election defeat of her father-in-law, has now left. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Witnesses living near the Madona nightclub say they have spotted Dragan Hadzi Antic, former director of the stridently pro-Milosevic daily Politika, in the neighbourhood. Antic hid in a monastery near Prepolje after the "October Revolution" and is now thought to be holed-up in Pozarevac.

Milosevic's daughter Marija suffered a nervous breakdown after her father's defeat and was admitted to the Belgrade Military Hospital for treatment. Marija owns Radio Television Kosava and is reportedly busy selling off the company's equipment.

Several Pozarevac loyalists have been toppled from prominent commercial and political positions since their benefactor's disgrace. Vlajko Stojiljkovic, minister of police, was chased from his office. He also lost the chairmanship of the Pozarevac SPS committee when the new leadership in the town unceremoniously said they would no longer listen to his instructions.

Leposava Milicevic, the former minister for religion and health, has disappeared altogether.

Prominent Pozarevac politician Ratko Markovic, Milosevic loyalist who wrote the Yugoslav constitution, left the SPS along with several other senior members after the party congress re-elected Milosevic.

The former leaders of Pozarevac municipal council are under investigation for defrauding housing funds. The prosecutor has ordered all the suspects to be detained. They include the former mayor, Dusan Antic, former municipality deputy president Dragoljub Jovanovic, former local government head Snezana Arsic, former deputy president of the SPS Trifun Pantic and president of the local JUL committee Vojislav Pejic.

And it's not just in Pozarevac that things are running awry for the Milosevic clique. In Belgrade, Zorica Brunclik, a senior JUL official and folk singer, said she preferred to stay indoors these days because she was "disappointed with other party members."

Mile Veljkovic is an IWPR contributor

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