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Slobodan Milosevic

Slobodan Milošević
Slobodan Milošević (born August 29, 1941) is a former President of Serbia[?]. He was born in Požarevac[?], Serbia.

Milošević emerged in April 1987 as the leading force in the revival of Serbian nationalism, replacing Ivan Stambolić[?] as party leader in the Serbian section of the ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia in September.

He was elected president of Serbia by the national assembly in May 1989, and presided over the transformation of the League of Communists of Serbia into the Socialist Party of Serbia (July 1990) and the adoption of a new Serbian constitution (September 1990) providing for a direct election of a president with increased powers. Milošević won direct election as president of Serbia in December 1990 and December 1992.

Milošević's rise to power coincided with the growth of nationalism among all of Yugoslavia's republics following the collapse of communist governments throughout eastern Europe. In June 1991 Slovenia and Croatia seceded from the federation, followed by the republics of Macedonia in September 1991 and Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 1992. The presence of large Serb minorities in Croatia (540,000) and Bosnia (1.6 million) led to wars in each, in which Serb secessionists seeking union with Serbia proper were supported by the Yugoslav government and army. On February 4, 1997 Milosevic recognized opposition victories in the November 1996 elections after contesting the results for 11 weeks.

In 1995 the Dayton Agreement brought an end to Bosnian civil war, and Milošević was credited in the West as one of the pillars of Balkan peace. The government of President Clinton supported his rule during this period, until the beginning of the uprising in Kosovo and start of Albanian terrorist actions and a consequent brutal Serbian crackdown in 1998. In the winter of 1996, after fraud in local elections, there were student demonstrations which lasted 3 months, filling the streets of Belgrade daily, and protesting Milošević's rule. But the West failed to support Serbian people, opting for Milošević instead, and he managed to stay in power. His image was badly damaged though, and despite a substantial rise in popularity after the NATO bombing in 1999, this led to his eventual downfall.

Constitutionally limited to two terms as Serbian president, in July 1997 Milošević assumed the presidency of the Yugoslav Federation, now reduced to Serbia and her smaller neighbour Montenegro. Armed actions by Albanian separatist groups and Serbian military counter-action in Serbia's previously autonomous (and mostly Albanian-populated) province of Kosovo culminated in escalating warfare in 1998, NATO air strikes against Serbia and her armed forces in March-June 1999, and Serbia's subsequent military withdrawal from the province. During the Kosovo War he was indicted on May 27, 1999 for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo, and he is currently (2003) standing trial at International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Milošević's rejection of claims of a first-round opposition victory in new elections for the Federal presidency in September 2000 led to mass demonstrations in Belgrade on October 5 and the collapse of the regime's authority. Opposition leader Vojislav Koštunica[?] took office as Yugoslav president on October 6.

Arrested on April 1, 2001 on charges of abuse of power and corruption, Milošević was handed over by the Serbian government on June 28 to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The transfer was illegal under Yugoslav law at the time, and President Kostunica was opposed to it. After Milošević's transfer, original charges of war crimes in Kosovo were upgraded by adding charges of genocide in Bosnia and war crimes in Croatia. On January 30, 2002 Milosevic accused the United Nations war crimes tribunal[?] of an "evil and hostile attack" against him. The trial began at The Hague on February 12, 2002 with Milošević defending himself though refusing to recognise the court's jurisdiction. Some observers found his popularity among Serbs rising sharply since the beginning of the trial. Some who have observed the trial say it is a travesty of justice, and that it appears designed to justify NATO bombing actions and sponsorship of Albanian terrorist groups during the 1990s.

In private, Milošević is patriarchal and conservative, devoted to his family and wife, who was his high-school sweetheart. His personality is marked by stubbornness (of which he is proud) and rigid adherence to personal moral beliefs. Modest and unassuming during his years in power, he was often opposed to appearing on state TV, and his presence in the media was consequently rare and discreet. His most devoted followers are older people, pensioners who spent most of their lives in another era, whose moral code Milošević followed flawlessly. His stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise or betray his principles is at least partly to be credited for the political problems and wars which marked his years in power. His strong defense in the trial has also to do with this stubborn personality, as it appears that he firmly believes in the truthfulness of his defense, and the conspiracy of the New World Order. He has a team in Belgrade who helps him, often sending him information available from the secret police files. Serbian insiders are often biased and support Milosevic's point of view, while Croatian witnesses have offered a lot of useful testimonies. Tribunal has to prove he had command responsibility in Croatia and Bosnia, at least de facto, since formally as a president of Serbia at the time he was not in charge. But his influence went beyond his formal duties, but there is little to no record of this, as he always preferred to deal with his subordinates confidentially and in person. Unlike Croatian president Franjo Tudjman who often made blunders like saying how happy he is that his wife is neither Serbian nor Jewish (for which he apologised to Jews, but not to Serbs). He was not considered to be a nationalist himself (although many of his followers clearly were), and he had bitter dispute with Bosnian Serbs in 1993, closing border over the Drina river and applying heavy pressure on them. After the Dayton Agreement in 1995 Serbian nationalists became his sturdy opponents, up until 1998. While opinions about Milošević and his trial are far from being unanimous, people at least agree that the proceedings have plenty of bizarre and amusing moments. Currently, the trial is covering war in Croatia, and is being under close attention of Croatian and Serbian public.

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