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Milosevic Is Buried

Nationalist politician Tomislav Nikolic prays at the grave of Slobodan Milosevic (epa) March 18, 2006 -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was today buried to his hometown of Pozarevac in Serbia.

Milosevic was interred in the grounds of his family home, following a private ceremony.

As the hearse carrying the body made its way through Pozarevac to the burial site, hundreds of townspeople filled the roads to overflowing.

In Belgrade earlier, some 50,000 people gathered to bid farewell to Milosevic, whose coffin was on display outside parliament.

The vice president of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, Milorad Vucelic, told the crowds in Belgrade that Milosevic's family could not attend the funeral because of "threats."

"Because of controversial statements by the authorities in Serbia regarding security of the family of Slobodan Milosevic during the funeral and especially because of threats and blackmail addressed to [his wife] Mira Markovic, the family was prevented from coming to the funeral and will not be present at the funeral," Vucelic said.

Milosevic died of a heart attack at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on March 11. He had been standing trial on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity during the Balkans wars in the 1990s.

(compiled from agency reports)

RFE/RL Balkans Analyst Comments

RFE/RL Balkans Analyst Comments

DECADES NEEDED TO OVERCOME HIS LEGACY: RFE/RL Balkans analyst PATRICK MOORE comments on the funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and what it says about Milosevic’s legacy in his homeland.

RFE/RL: Things have gone quietly for Milosevic’s funeral today despite the fact there was a potential for violent confrontations between Milosevic’s supporters and opponents. Is the calm surprising?

Patrick Moore: Part of the reason we didn’t get violence, or at least have not had it so far, is that the kind of people who would be most likely to engage in such behavior are precisely Milosevic’s supporters, and they are the ones who right now have an interest in a peaceful funeral. The kind of people who turned out half-a-million-strong in 2003 for the funeral of [assassinated] reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic are probably looking on all this with disgust and would not see any reason to turn out and would otherwise go about their business.

RFE/RL: The media attention today was on Milosevic’s supporters and their efforts to give him a hero’s sendoff. Why do his supporters feel so strongly he was a good leader?

Moore: In any society, when you have someone who at one time stood at the helm and went through several wars, then this person will always have a certain kind of following, and this is certainly true in Milosevic’s case. He fooled a lot of people for a long time, people’s selective memories take hold, and I heard some Serbs commenting today that their standard of living was higher under Milosevic. Well, in fact, Milosevic had one of the highest inflation rates in modern Balkan history. So, this is a selective memory working here; there is a bit of a nostalgia element.

RFE/RL: Most of the world sees Milosevic as a war criminal who was on trial for four years at The Hague before he died in prison before he could be judged. How would you sum up his legacy for Serbia?

Moore: He contributed to, reinforced, a very negative element in Serbian political culture that is narcissistic, that is engaged in blame and denial -- [the attitude that] the entire world is to be blamed for Serbia’s problems, just Serbs are not. More importantly, he left his own people, the Serbs, a legacy of poverty, crime, corruption and a democratic deficit. It’s going to take them years ,if not decades, to overcome this.

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: For an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, click here.

Of related interest:

RFE/RL Special: The Collapse Of Tito's Yugoslavia

RFE/RL Special: Yugoslavia's Democratic Revolution

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