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Serbian Town Seeks To Erect Milosevic Monument

Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic
BELGRADE -- A small town in southern Serbia wants to erect a monument to former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died while being tried for war crimes in The Hague in 2006, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Milosevic ruled Serbia for more than a decade during and after the breakup of former Yugoslavia, something that many Serbs blame on Milosevic. He was ousted as president of rump Yugoslavia in a democratic revolution in 2000.

The town of Prokuplje already has a monument to the revolution's pro-Western leader, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was killed in 2003 by ultranationalist members of a special police unit. Ironically, it was Djindjic who ordered the arrest and transfer of Milosevic to The Hague.

An initiative in Prokuplje by an offshoot of Milosevic's Socialist Party (SPS), which is part of a ruling coalition with Djindjic's Democratic Party both in Prokuplje and on the national level, is seeking to have the monument erected.

Local SPS council member Miroljub Djordjevic told RFE/RL on September 2 that those who supported the monument idea were seeking to "undo the injustice done to Milosevic and his legacy."

"The citizens say they lived much better under Slobodan Milosevic," he said. "I responsibly say that the people are suffering now, they are hungry."

After Djindjic's death, his democratic political bloc split into reformist and nationalist camps and the political stalemate that created has hampered economic reforms.

Djordjevic said the monument would be inscribed with the word "Redemption" because "the people who sent him to The Hague are now seeking redemption."

The SPS party in Belgrade said it was not behind the initiative for the monument.

When he died, Milosevic was being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

Serbian parliamentary deputy Nenda Prkic said the initiative reflected the fact that Serbian society has not dealt with its past, and nostalgia for Milosevic or Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito is not surprising.

"This is a country that wanders from one day to the next," Prokic said. "Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall we haven't managed to formulate our vision of the future. That is a deadly situation in a society."

Prokuplje, which has a population of some 30,000, is near Kosovo and serves as the administrative center of the Toplica district.