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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 17:01 GMT
Milosevic burial grips Balkans press
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic's funeral was on Saturday

Saturday's funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic makes front-page headlines in many regional dailies on Sunday.

Several papers note that the ceremony was a rallying point for his nationalist supporters but a Croatian daily says an alternative rally by anti-Milosevic supporters in the Serbian capital of Belgrade gives rise to the hope of a new era.

Absent family

"Without a single member of his family present at the funeral, the body of the former president was laid to rest at 6pm to the sound of the funeral band playing 'Midnight in Moscow'," the Belgrade daily Politika writes.

Another Serbian daily, Glas Javnosti, also notes the absence of family, pointing out that no religious ritual was performed during the ceremony.

The theme is echoed in Croatia, where Vecernji list says "the man who managed to ruin the former Yugoslavia during his 13-year long rule obviously failed to unite his own family".

Slobodan Milosevic's end was "marked by shame", Croatia's Novi list writes.

"After no cemetery would accept his body, he was buried at a private ceremony in the yard of his family home in the absence of his divided family."

Several papers published extracts from messages read out on behalf of Mr Milosevic's widow Mirjana and son Marko, currently living in Russia.

Glas Javnosti says the letter by Mr Milosevic's widow "resembled a political pamphlet". "Criminals who killed you maybe want my life and the life of our children," the widow's letter reads.

Politika reports that Mr Milosevic's daughter Marija is "devastated" that her father has been laid to rest in Belgrade and has let it be known that she will request that his body be exhumed and transferred to his ancestral home in Montenegro, where she currently resides.

Ceremony

The papers devote many column inches to the ceremony in Belgrade where Mr Milosevic's body was put on public display prior to its arrival for burial in his home of Pozarevac.

Politika describes the arrival of the coffin from Belgrade and the memorial ceremony in Milosevic's home town of Pozarevac in great detail and provides ample quotes from the tributes paid to the former leader by various officials who attended the funeral.

"As the hearse transporting the body of the former leader moved through the main town street to the sound of a funeral march, some 30,000 people who lined the route greeted the coffin chanting 'Slobo' and 'Serbia, Serbia'", it reports.

Any mention of the West, the Hague tribunal, its chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and Nato was greeted by the chant "murderers, murderers" from the crowd.

"Even at the height of his power, Slobodan Milosevic would not have been unhappy with the number of those who gathered to say their final goodbye".

Glas Javnosti writes that mourners waved the Serbian and Yugoslav flags, carried Milosevic's pictures and threw roses at the hearse carrying the former leader's body.

The Bosnian Serb Nezavisne novine says that several hundred supporters from the Serb Republic attended the funeral and that around 100 people gathered in Srebrenica to mark the day.

'Last rally of losers'

Papers based in the Muslim part of Bosnia-Hercegovina also give prominent coverage, saying the event provided an occasion for a gathering of supporters of the policies that led to the bloodshed in the Balkans.

"Chetniks and neo-communists pay tribute to criminal", reads a headline in Dnevni avaz.

A scathing commentary in the same daily, published before the funeral, is headlined "A group portrait of butcher's Serbia".

"Sad images of the weeping cortege surrounding Milosevic's coffin in the past two days is the last group portrait of a Serbia which is being tried before the Hague tribunal now", the piece says, believing "it was Serbia which gave birth to Milosevic and not vice-versa".

The daily describes the former leader and "the last European dictator whose legacy written in blood marks the end of the last and the beginning of this century".

Croatia's Novi list describes the funeral as "the last rally of the losers".

"The organisers did their best to give the impression of a state funeral but there was not a trace of a state ceremony about it," the paper says. Only "retired generals and colonels, Hague tribunal indictees and officers of the army that no longer exists after it was defeated" attended.

Encouraging

But Novi list finds it encouraging that in another square, up to 2,000 people gathered to express their satisfaction that Milosevic was finally being laid to rest.

"The number may be smaller, but the fact that these were younger, educated people gave rise to the hope that a new generation free from the burden of Milosevic megalomaniac dreams was being born in Serbia."

And even Politika reports some 3,000 mostly young people waved balloons and chanted "He is dead" and "Finished for ever".

It says the rally was organised through text messages, heralding "The arrival of Spring three days before it's due" and exhorting people to "Join us to prevent any future Milosevics".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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