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article imageSerbian late strongman Milosevic's widow dies: friend

By AFP     Apr 14, 2019 in World

The widow of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, often dubbed the "Lady Macbeth of the Balkans", has died in Russia at the age of 76, a friend told AFP on Sunday.

"I can confirm that unfortunately Mira Markovic passed away," Milutin Mrkonjic, once a close associate of Milosevic and a family friend said by telephone, giving no details.

Local media reported that Markovic died in a Moscow hospital and had been very ill. Tabloid Blic quoted her friend as saying her wish was to return to Serbia but "not under condition to be taken to prison right from the airport".

Markovic's "only goal is to clear Milosevic's name," Dragoljub Kocovic was quoted by Blic as saying.

In 2003, Markovic -- who was known to have a huge influence on her husband -- left Serbia, where she was charged with abuse of power and was suspected of cigarette smuggling and political assassination.

In 2008, Russia granted both her and her son Marko Milosevic political asylum after Serbia issued an international arrest warrant for them in connection with alleged cigarette smuggling.

Slobodan Milosevic died in a prison cell in March 2006 while on trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity before the UN war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague for his key role in the 1990s wars that tore the Balkans apart.

In 2015 Markovic, who had been a sociology professor at Belgrade University, released a lengthy autobiography defending the Serbian strongman and revealing how they fell in love.

In the two-volume memoir titled "Bilo Je To Ovako" (This Is How It Was), Markovic described her husband as "the leading political figure" of the last decade of the 20th century, "whose name was mentioned more often than those of the Russian, American and Chinese presidents put together."

Running to more than 900 pages, the book describes the couple's rise and fall, from when they met until Milosevic's death, as well as her childhood and her time in exile in Russia since 2003.

Ultranationalist Milosevic was ousted as president by a popular uprising on October 5, 2000 after 13 years of iron rule in which he fuelled brutal ethnic conflict and mass murder in the former Yugoslavia, defying international sanctions and NATO bombs.

Milosevic, whose leadership left the Serbian economy in ruins, was arrested six months later and transferred to the United Nations war crimes court in June 2001. He remained unmoved by charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Markovic was charged with abuse of power in Serbia and tried in absentia for allegedly handing out a government-subsidised apartment to an associate. In late March an appeal court voided her one-year jail sentence and ordered a retrial.

She had also been named as a suspect in the mysterious assassination of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolic in August 2000.

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