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Archive for Sunday, October 15, 2000

Milosevic plotting behind the scenes

October 15, 2000

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— Ousted strongman Slobodan Milosevic is plotting a comeback despite losing control over much of his security forces and even parts of his own political movement, pro-democracy and foreign officials say.

More than a week after Vojislav Kostunica took office as president, Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic, remain holed up in a government villa in Belgrade's Dedinje district, consulting their remaining loyalists within the secret service, the army and police, the officials say.

A senior Socialist Party official, Nikola Sainovic, told reporters Friday that Milosevic is still in Belgrade "and we are in daily contact," meaning the former president still wields considerable influence within his political movement.

No move has been made by the new government to arrest Milosevic, despite his indictment by the U.N. war crimes tribunal and allegations of extensive corruption at home.

"Milosevic is desperately trying to stabilize his ranks, conducting very high activity," said Dusan Mihajlovic, the former president's ally now turned political foe. "He is trying to create obstruction, chaos and anarchy."

Analysts believe Milosevic is hoping to find a way to use remaining loyal security troops to arrest political opponents or seize facilities of the state-run broadcast media that he lost during the popular uprising against his autocratic rule.

"Milosevic is pulling the strings from behind the scene, consulting his generals, trying to create havoc," prominent analyst Bratislav Grubacic said. "He hopes that instead of foreign aid, the country will plunge into darkness and hunger with no functioning government, and then people would turn against the democrats and 'beg' for his return."

It remains unclear whether the new government can really sideline Milosevic as long as he is allowed to remain relatively free inside the country.

"If he remains in Serbia, the infection, the diseases, the malevolence of Milosevic must never be underestimated, nor should his capacity to be able to make mischief," said Paddy Ashdown, British envoy for the Balkans who visited Belgrade on Thursday. "I am optimistic that now, although he can create trouble, he can't reverse it."

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