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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 15:29 GMT
Home town views Milosevic's legacy
By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Pozarevac, Serbia and Montenegro

Milosevic's mother's grave
Milosevic could be buried near to his mother in Pozarevac

A simple, dark grey granite tombstone marks the resting place of Stanislava Milosevic, Slobodan Milosevic's mother, in the cemetery in Pozarevac.

What distinguishes it from the surrounding gravestones, which crowd in on it from all sides, is that while theirs are decorated with crosses, hers bears the five-pointed Communist star.

The grave has a slightly neglected air - there are no recent flowers or candles.

The suicide of the local teacher in 1974, at the age of 60, shocked this sleepy, eastern Serbian town. So could Slobodan Milosevic be buried here too?

Men tidying the main thoroughfare of the graveyard say there is plenty of room here, but not exactly next to his mother.

I miss those times, but I don't want them back
Goran,
local resident

His wife Mira's family have a separate sepulchre, and that would be one possibility. Slobodan and Mira were childhood sweethearts in this town, and Mira has said that she would like him to be buried here.

It is a handsome graveyard, with tall, well-pruned lime trees and many evergreens.

Stray dogs, barking near the gate, add to the mournful air. A cat presses against the legs of visitors. Rain falls all day, but will soon turn to snow.

At Mira's family house, the dark green gates are closed, but there are flowers and slim yellow Serbian Orthodox candles flickering in the grey afternoon light.

'With respect'

One neighbour, who prefers not to give a name, says Slobodan Milosevic is remembered in the town as a quiet, rather effeminate boy, who did not play football, but was always obedient to his parents.

Mourners outside the Socialist Party headquarters in Belgrade
Serbs are divided over the legacy of Slobodan Milosevic

On the gate, a hand-written note reads "with respect, from your neighbours".

Another more elaborate wreath has the following words on the ribbon: "Slobo, you were a giant among the dwarves of the world. You will always be a hero of the Serbian people."

Those sentiments are echoed by at least some citizens of the town.

A taxi driver, Blagoje Stepic, said the impact of the Milosevic family had been good for business - not so much that of Slobodan, who rarely came here, but of his son Marko.

He owned several businesses - a bakery, a disco called Madonna which has now been renamed "Planet" - and he had a part share in Bambi Park, a sport and recreation centre on the edge of the town.

The disco is closed for the winter, and Bambi Park has a desolate air. But one part at least is still thriving, an indoor football pitch.

On a Sunday evening, an energetic game of five-a-side was under way. It costs $30 (17) an hour to hire the space.

Economic legacy

The manager, Goran, reminisces fondly about the Milosevic era in this town, although not in the country.

Mira and Slobodan Milosevic in September 2000
Mira and Slobodan Milosevic met in the town of Pozarevac

"Marko used to come here at weekends, and bring famous rock bands and personalities," he said.

"Thousands would visit, it was fun... I miss those times, but I don't want them back," he adds, cautiously.

A clock on the town hall chimes out each quarter hour, with a strange, mechanical tone. Next door in the Madeira restaurant, simple, tasty Serbian food is served.

Jovan Tosic, a local civil engineer, has mixed feelings about the Milosevic legacy.

"At least 10 of my friends now work abroad, for other countries, not for Serbia," he laments. His own business went bankrupt, and he is now back in his old job, in a state-run firm.

He believes Slobodan Milosevic shares responsibility for the poor state of the economy, but others are also to blame - the United Nations, for example, for the sanctions they imposed on Serbia.

Leaving Pozarevac, the biscuit factory, also called Bambi, gives a sense of the post-Milosevic era. One of the biggest in the country in socialist times, it is now partly owned, locals say, by a Russian millionaire.




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