Slobodan Milošević

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Slobodan Milošević
Full Name: Slobodan Milošević
Alias: The Butcher of the Balkans
The Butcher of Belgrade
The Hitler of Yugoslavia
The Hitler of Serbia
Origin: Požarevac, Nazi German-occupied Serbia
Occupation: President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1997 - 2000)
President of Serbia (1989 - 1997)
Goals: Keep Yugoslavia from breaking apart (failed)
Establish a "Greater Serbia" (failed)
Crimes: Crimes against humanity
Ethnic cleansing
War crimes
Human rights violations
Persecution of Christians
Mass murder
Type of Villain: Genocidal Tyrant

We know how to handle these murderers, these rapists, these criminals. We've done this before … in Drenica in 1946. We killed them. We killed them all. Of course we did not do it all at once. It took some time.
~ Slobodan Milošević

Slobodan Milošević (August 20, 1941 – March 11, 2006) was a Yugoslav politician who served as the President of Serbia (originally the Socialist Republic of Serbia, a constituent republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) from 1989 to 1997 and President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. Originally a communist and a member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, he later renounced communism and embraced Serbian nationalism. His government caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 20th century. He has been described as a "modern day Hitler" by many scholars and journalists.


Early life

Milošević had ancestral roots from the Lijeva Rijeka village in Podgorica and was of the Vasojevići clan from Montenegro. He was born in Požarevac, four months after the Axis invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and raised during the Axis Powers' occupation of World War II. He had an older brother Borislav who would later become a diplomat. His parents separated in the aftermath of the war. His father, the Serbian Orthodox theologian Svetozar Milošević, committed suicide in 1962. Svetozar's father Simeun was an officer in the Montenegrin Army. Milošević's mother Stanislava (née Koljenšić), a school teacher and also an active member of the Communist Party, committed suicide in 1972. Her brother (Milošević's maternal uncle) Milisav Koljenšić was a major-general in the Yugoslav People's Army who committed suicide in 1963.

Milošević went on to study law at the University of Belgrade's Law School, where he became the head of the ideology committee of the Yugoslav Communist League's (SKJ) student branch (SSOJ). While at the university, he befriended Ivan Stambolić, whose uncle Petar Stambolić had been a president of Serbian Executive Council (the Communist equivalent of a prime minister). This was to prove a crucial connection for Milošević's career prospects, as Stambolić sponsored his rise through the SKJ hierarchy.

After his graduation in 1966, Milošević became an economic advisor to Mayor of Belgrade Branko Pešić. Five years later, he married his childhood friend, Mirjana Marković, with whom he had two children: Marko and Marija. Marković would have some influence on Milošević's political career both before and after his rise to power; she was also leader of her husband's junior coalition partner, Yugoslav Left (JUL) in the 1990s. In 1968, Milošević got a job at the Tehnogas company, where Stambolić was working, and became its chairman in 1973. By 1978, Stambolić's sponsorship had enabled Milošević to become the head of Beobanka, one of Yugoslavia's largest banks; his frequent trips to Paris and New York gave him the opportunity to learn English.

Early political career

Starting in 1987, Milošević "endorsed a Serbian nationalist agenda" and "exploited a growing wave of Serbian nationalism in order to strengthen centralised rule in the SFRY". ICTY prosecutors argued that "the [Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo] indictments were all part of a common scheme, strategy or plan on the part of the accused [Milošević] to create a 'Greater Serbia', a centralized Serbian state encompassing the Serb-populated areas of Croatia and Bosnia and all of Kosovo, and that this plan was to be achieved by forcibly removing non-Serbs from large geographical areas through the commission of the crimes charged in the indictments. Although the events in Kosovo were separated from those in Croatia and Bosnia by more than three years, they were no more than a continuation of that plan, and they could only be understood completely by reference to what had happened in Croatia and Bosnia."

Milošević's defenders claim that the Prosecution could not produce a single order issued by his government to Serbian fighters in Croatia or Bosnia. Near the end of the Prosecution's case, a Prosecution analyst admitted under cross-examination that this was indeed the case. Theunens, however, was quick to point out, "the fact that we don't have orders doesn't mean that they don't exist" to which Milošević replied "There are none, that's why you haven't got one."

Yugoslav Wars

Since the wars, Milošević's political behaviour has been analyzed as politically opportunist in nature. Claims that Milošević was principally motivated by a desire for power have been supported by many people who had known or had worked for him. Some believe his original goal until the breakup of Yugoslavia was to take control of Yugoslavia, with the ambition of becoming its next great leader, a "second Tito". According to this, Milošević exploited nationalism as a tool to seize power in Serbia, while not holding any particular commitment to it. During the first twenty-five years of his political career in the communist government of Yugoslavia, Milošević was a typical civil servant who did not appear to have nationalist aims. Later, he attempted to present himself as a peacemaker in the Yugoslav Wars and abandoned support of nationalism. He returned to support nationalism during the Kosovo War and appealed to anti-imperialist sentiments. The spread of violent nationalism has also been imputed to indifference to it by Milošević.

The source of Milošević's nationalistic agenda is believed to have been influenced by the policies of the popular prominent Serbian Communist official and former Yugoslav Partisan Aleksandar Ranković who was known to promote Serbian national interests in Yugoslavia and hardline police actions against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. He supported a centralized Yugoslavia and opposed efforts that promoted decentralization that he deemed to be against the interests of Serb unity. Ranković imposed harsh repressive measures on Kosovo Albanians based on accusations that they there were sympathizers of the Stalinist rule of Enver Hoxha in Albania.

Milošević's presidency of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was marked by several major reforms to Serbia's constitution from the 1980s to the 1990s that reduced the powers of the autonomous provinces in Serbia. In 1990 Serbia transitioned from a Titoist, one-party system to a multi-party system and attempted reforms to the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia. The constituent republics of the country split apart amid the outbreak of wars, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded by the former SFRY republics of Serbia and Montenegro. Milošević negotiated the Dayton Agreement on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, which ended the Bosnian War in 1995.

As a war criminal

During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Milošević was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. Milošević resigned from the Yugoslav presidency amid demonstrations following the disputed presidential election of 24 September 2000, and he was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities on 31 March 2001 on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement.

Death and aftermath

The initial investigation into Milošević faltered for lack of evidence, prompting the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić to extradite him to the ICTY to stand trial for charges of war crimes instead. At the outset of the trial, Milošević denounced the Tribunal as illegal because it had not been established with the consent of the United Nations General Assembly; therefore he refused to appoint counsel for his defence. Milošević conducted his own defence in the five-year-long trial, which ended without a verdict when he died in his prison cell in The Hague on 11 March 2006. Milošević suffered from heart ailments and hypertension, and died of a heart attack. The Tribunal denied any responsibility for Milošević's death and stated that he had refused to take prescribed medicines and medicated himself instead.

After Milošević's death, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded separately in the Bosnian Genocide Case that there was no evidence linking him to genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian War. However, the Court did find that Milošević and others in Serbia had committed a breach of the Genocide Convention by failing to prevent the genocide from occurring and for not cooperating with the ICTY in punishing the perpetrators of the genocide, in particular Republika Srpska President Radovan Karadžić and General Ratko Mladić, and for violating its obligation to comply with the provisional measures ordered by the Court. Milošević's rule has been described by observers as authoritarian or autocratic.

Many members of the Alt-Right have celebrated his actions during the Yugoslav Wars, with the Serbian nationalist "Serbia Strong/Remove Kebab" becoming Internet memes.