The late Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla just can't catch a break in Belgrade.
Bizarre comments by a city councilor there have reignited a devilish debate over the final resting place of his ashes.
Nikola Nikodijevic, the Socialist president of the Serbian capital's city council, told fellow councilors in Belgrade on June 8 that an order had come from the senior ranks of the Serbian Orthodox Church for Tesla's remains to be moved out of the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
In the middle of a debate about whether Belgrade should commission a monument to the world-renowned electrical engineer and physicist, Nikodijevic said, "If you really want me to tell you the truth, this is an initiative by Patriarch [Irinej], who came to the city council and begged us to remove the ashes because of the satanic rituals that are taking place in the museum."
He later acknowledged that he'd used "strong language," but stood behind his assertion that the Serbian Orthodox Church was requesting the relocation.
But Branimir Jovanovic, director of the Nikola Tesla Museum, told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that it was all a big misunderstanding. "I have been working at the museum for more than 20 years. We preserve and take care of everything concerning Tesla. This kind of story has nothing to do with reality," he said.
Some of his most controversial theories on energy and matter, as well as his ambitious hopes for emerging technologies at the time, were regarded as heretical by critics in the religious establishment.
There was no confirmation of satanic concerns on the part of the Serbian Orthodox Church. But it wouldn't be the first time the church's leadership has gotten all charged up over Tesla.
In March 2014, government officials, reportedly pressured by the Serbian Orthodox Church, sought to move Tesla's ashes from the museum to St. Sava Church -- the largest Orthodox Church in the world, where other Serbian national heroes are buried.
However, the initiative -- proposed by the patriarch and supported by the energy minister and city mayor -- was dropped after citizens protested.
An ethnic Serb born in Croatia, Tesla was a pioneer in harnessing electrical, radio, and X-ray technologies. After initially working abroad for another genius of invention, Thomas Edison, Tesla moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen and lived out an active if not necessarily lucrative experimental and entrepreneurial life until his death in 1943.
It wasn't until 1957 that his ashes were moved to the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
-- Dusan Komarcevic and Deana Kjuka