By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
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Milosevic's family itself operates as a kind of mafia, with his son Marko, a well-known playboy, owning Belgrade's biggest nightclub, as well as a restaurant and an ice cream business. Marko also holds the monopoly on the import of cigarettes and liquor through duty-free shops. Daughter Marija runs a radio station that pulls in advertising revenue from businesses anxious not to alienate Milosevic.
Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, runs her own party, called the Yugoslav United Left, or JUL. It functions in close collaboration with Milosevic's Socialists and Vojislav Seselj's Radical Party, which is explicitly fascist. Marcovic also has worked hard to develop relationships with China, where some funds may have been transferred in the past few years. She visited China amid great fanfare, and works she has written have been translated into Chinese.
The broker between the Milosevics' state-owned mafia and the foreign banks where the money is stashed is an older woman who was a well-known Partisan during World War II. Before the sanctions were lifted, she reportedly organized a banking scheme (accounts, aliases, dummy firms, etc.) in Cyprus to siphon public funds abroad and safeguard them for the mafia. Cyprus was chosen because of its lax financial controls.
Life and Death Underground
Despite Milosevic's martial law crackdown, the Serbian opposition, by now underground, sent out a call last week for Russia and the European Union to take the lead in mediating peace talks. Opposition groups, which have strongly opposed Milosevic's ultranationalism since his rise to power a decade ago, "demand an end to the practice of ethnic cleansing and repatriation of all refugees."
According to the statement, released through a Spanish peace group, "We have fought against every warmongering and nationalistic policy, and for the respect of human rights, and particularly against the repression of Kosovo Albanians. We have always insisted on the respect of their human rights and freedoms and on the restoration of autonomy for Kosovo." The statement also demands the "democratization of Montenegro," whose tenuous multi- ethnic government is seen as the last vestige of the former Yugoslavia.
The leadership of the opposition consists of trade unionists, students, women, professionals, and, perhaps especially, independent journalists. Milosevic, whose control of the media is crucial to his rule in what's left of Yugoslavia, has cracked down hard on the press, closing newspapers, as well as radio and TV stations. B92, which had been the only remaining independent radio station when the conflict erupted, was shut down in the first week of the bombing. Its director has since gone underground.
On April 11, gunmen assassinated Slavko Curuvija, 50, editor of the independent Daily Telegraph and the biweekly European in front of his Belgrade apartment after pistol-whipping his girlfriend, Branka Prpa, a well-known historian. "They were obviously professionals," she told friends. "One of them hit me across the back of the head with his pistol and pushed me aside. They then shot Slavko several times in the head." Curuvija had been sentenced to five months in prison for "spreading false information" but had not begun the sentence. He had been publicly attacked by Mira Markovic for supporting the NATO bombing, when, in fact, he had opposed it. Last Wednesday about 1000 mourners attended his funeral.
With U.S. combat pilots creeping through the Yugoslavian atmosphere in Model Tequivalent B-52s (37 years old) and F-16s (aged 14), military commanders and their supporters in Congress are shoving through emergency appropriations to allow themselves the option of turning in their old 707s for spiffy new Gulfstream corporate jets to get them to the battlefields on time. Such jets are being leased to people like NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark (now known throughout the military as the "Supreme Being"). Leasing is faster and cheaper than going through creaky Defense Department procurement policy. Alaska's Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who chairs the appropriations committee, sponsored the legislation.
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu