March 19, 2006

Milosevic daughter denounces “political” funeral

By Ljilja Cvekic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Slobodan Milosevic's daughter on
Sunday denounced the former Serbian president's funeral, saying
his Socialist Party had hijacked it for political ends.

Socialist officials and other prominent supporters made a
succession of fiery speeches at a gathering of tens of
thousands of people in Belgrade on Saturday before Milosevic's
coffin was taken to the provincial town of Pozarevac for

Milosevic's son was quoted in the Belgrade daily Press as
saying the funeral was "terrible" and had been turned into a
political rally but he later denied making the comments,
although he admitted he had spoken to a reporter from the

Some Serbian media saw the funeral as the final act of an
era marked by the Balkan wars of the 1990s in which at least
150,000 people were killed and millions forced from their

Others saw it as a sign that Milosevic, reviled in the West
and neighboring states as the leader most responsible for those
wars, still had a substantial following even after his death.

None of Milosevic's close relatives attended the gathering,
or his burial in the yard of the family's home in Pozarevac.

His daughter Marija, 40, remained in the neighboring
republic of Montenegro, upset that he was not being buried in
his ancestral village there or given a church funeral.

"The saddest thing is that I could have prevented all those
scandalous arrangements for the funeral, all that speechifying
and people chanting, if only they'd listened to me," she told
Reuters in a telephone interview.

Milosevic's playboy son Marko and wife Mira, his lifelong
partner in power, stayed in self-imposed exile in Russia.

They feared arrest by the pro-Western authorities who now
run Serbia or attacks by Serbs disgusted at their reign as the
country's first family.


Milosevic, who was ousted by a mass uprising in October
2000, died of heart failure in his cell at the U.N. war crimes
tribunal just over a week ago. He was indicted on 66 counts
including charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Belgrade newspaper Vecernje Novosti headlined its
front-page story on his burial "Funeral of an Epoch."

Another tabloid, Kurir, also described the funeral as "The
End of an Era" but added that the mourners had "showed that
their leader, even dead, will continue shaping the political
map of Serbia for a long time."

In Sarajevo, where the wartime siege by Serb forces killed
more than 10,000, newspapers viewed the event with revulsion.

"Cetniks (Serb nationalists) and neo-communists honored
criminal," ran the headline in Dnevni Avaz, Bosnia's
best-selling newspaper, read mainly by Bosnian Muslims.

"Balkan Butcher Buried," it added.

Milosevic left Serbia divided between a sizeable minority
who see him as a hero who defended Serb interests and a
majority who broadly support the current government's
pro-Western course.

His death has divided even his own family. Marija Milosevic
said she was appalled her father had been buried in a garden --
where her mother and father courted -- instead of a cemetery.

She said she had not been consulted about the funeral plans
which were made by her mother.

"I wanted a church service and it was planned," she said.
"But my mother and brother were against a service."

"His political allies have misused his funeral for
political purposes and their speeches," she added.

"And who were all those people around his grave?" she
asked. "I even saw people who were declared enemies of my

(Additional reporting by Ljilja Cvekic in Belgrade and
Nedim Dervisbegovic in Sarajevo)