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Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK

Milosevic stubborn but no dictator, says cousin

The Black Mountains are home to the Milosevic clan

Brian Barron visits the Black Mountains of Montenegro to track down the relatives of President Milosevic.

[ image: Mihajlo Milosevic, family historian: 'He's quick, clever and stubborn']
Mihajlo Milosevic, family historian: 'He's quick, clever and stubborn'
In the rugged landscape of the Black Mountains I made a journey to unlock some of the secrets of Slobodan Milosevic's traumatic past.

It is in those isolated valleys that the Milosevic family has lived and died.

On a mountain top in the Ulvac valley lies the tomb of his father, a Russian language teacher who shot himself. Etched in Cyrillic script the names of 72 Milosevics killed as soldiers in the Balkans this century.

Watch Brian Barron's report
In the village of Lijeva Rijeka I searched for the strong man's kith and kin.

This seems a community of ghosts from the vanished communist world of a united Yugoslavia. But there is a new generation of the clan growing up in the village school.

Kosovo: Special Report
In this idyllic spot almost every other child is a Milosevic - but the shadow of the family patriarch's war with Nato falls everywhere.

"Opinions are divided here. Some people are against Milosevic and some other people are with him," the local school teacher told me.

There is apprehension that Montenegro itself is being sucked into the conflict. One exasperated old-timer said Milosevic is crazy, just like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

[ image: 72 of his ancestors have died as soldiers in the Balkan wars]
72 of his ancestors have died as soldiers in the Balkan wars
Then our search for Milosevic's troubled heritage yields a breakthrough.

Mihajlo Milosevic, cousin of Slobodan, is guardian of the family secrets. For half a century he has filled diaries with sometimes grisly details of clan suicides and wartime tragedy.

So what is his judgement on his feared cousin?

Kosovo - Key figures
"He's clever, he's quick, he's a typical Milosevic. Perhaps a bit pig-headed and stubborn, but I don't agree with people who say he's a dictator."

Here in the heartland of the Milosevic clan people won't disown the Yugoslav dictator. There's still enormous pride in the family name. But some say privately it's his blunders that have led to renewed war and instability in the Balkans.

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