Miloševic, Slobodan

Miloševic, Slobodan

biographical name

(born Aug. 29, 1941, Pozarevac, Serbia, Yugos.—found dead March 11, 2006, The Hague, Neth.) Serbian nationalist politician and president of Serbia (1989–97). He joined the Communist Party at age 18 and later became head of the state-owned gas company and president of a major Belgrade bank. Advised by his wife, a communist ideologue, he became head of the Communist Party in Belgrade (1984) and later in Serbia (1987). He replaced party leaders with his supporters, and in 1989 the Serbian assembly named him president of the republic. He maintained his power by repression and control of the mass media. He abrogated the constitutional autonomy of the Albanian province of Kosovo in 1989, which contributed to the secessionist movements in Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. He then supported Serbian militias fighting Muslims in Bosnia and Croatia (see Bosnian conflict) but later signed a peace agreement (1995) on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. In 1999, after pro-independence insurgents began killing Serbian police and politicians, he retaliated with ruthless attacks on the province (see Kosovo conflict). NATO responded with a massive bombing campaign of Serbian targets. The subsequent ethnic cleansing of the province by troops under Miloševic's command drove hundreds of thousands of Albanian Kosovars to other countries as refugees and earned him worldwide loathing as a war criminal. In 2000 he was defeated in national elections. The following year he was arrested and extradited to The Netherlands to stand trial for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The trial began in February 2002 but was frequently delayed because of Miloševic's poor health. On March 11, 2006, he was found dead in his prison cell.

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