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Serbia’s “Lady Macbeth” buried near late strongman Milosevic

April 20, 2019
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Workers place the stone onto the tomb of Mirjana Markovic, the widow of former strongman Slobodan Milosevic during her funeral at the yard of his estate in his home town of Pozarevac, Serbia, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Markovic died last week in Russia where she had been granted asylum. The ex-Serbian first lady had fled there in 2003 after Milosevic was ousted from power in a popular revolt and handed over to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

POZAREVAC, Serbia (AP) — Several dozen supporters attended the funeral Saturday of Mirjana Markovic, the widow of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic who was dubbed the “Lady Macbeth” of the Balkans because of the huge influence she had on her husband.

Markovic’s ashes were placed in her husband’s grave in the backyard of the family house in the central Serbian town of Pozarevac. Milosevic was buried there in 2006 after he died in the middle of his trial on genocide charges at a U.N. war crimes tribunal.

The couple’s son, Marko, and daughter, Marija, did not attend the burial. Those who did included a former president of neighboring Montenegro, members of Milosevic’s Socialist Party and others.

Markovic, 76, died last week in Russia, where she had been granted asylum. Serbia’s former first lady had fled to Russia in 2003 after Milosevic was ousted from power in a popular revolt and handed over to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

“Slobo and Miro, you haven’t lost honor and Serbia must remember that,” Milovan Bojic, a former minister during Milosevic’s era, said at the funeral Saturday. “Milosevic was a great Serbian leader, a Serbian martyr, and the judgment of history will clear the name of Mirjana Markovic.”

Milosevic is widely considered to be the politician most responsible for the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia that resulted in the deaths of at least 120,000 people in wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the early 1990s. The wars devastated the Balkans, forcing millions to flee their homes.

Markovic was sought for questioning in the killings of Milosevic’s political opponents during his autocratic rule but Russia refused to extradite her to Serbia.

While working as sociology professor at Belgrade University, Markovic served as leader of a neo-Communist party during her husband’s presidency in the 1990s, a coalition partner with a major influence on Milosevic.

Often wearing a trademark plastic flower in her hair, Markovic was known for “diaries” she published in local newspapers that were widely read because they often predicted future political moves by her husband.

Although she was never formally charged, Markovic was widely suspected of playing a role in the 1999 assassination of prominent Belgrade newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija, who was gunned down during the NATO bombing of Serbia. Markovic had publicly accused him of supporting the Western military alliance’s attacks.

A Serbian court recently convicted four former state security members of slaying Curuvija but the court did not reveal who ordered his killing.

Markovic was also suspected in the 2000 disappearance of Milosevic’s former mentor, Ivan Stambolic, whose body was found in an unmarked pit in northern Serbia in 2003.

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Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade.

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