Slobodan Milošević (Serbo-Croatian: [slobǒdan milǒːʃeʋitɕ] (listen); Serbian Cyrillic: Слободан Милошевић; 20 August 1941 – 11 March 2006) was a Yugoslav and Serbian politician who served as the President of Serbia (originally the Socialist Republic of Serbia, a constituent republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) from 1989 to 1997 and President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. He led the Socialist Party of Serbia from its foundation in 1990 and rose to power as Serbian President during efforts to reform the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia in response to alleged marginalization of Serbia, views that the powers of Serbia's autonomous provinces were too strong making them almost independent from Serbia, and claims of political incapacity to deter Albanian separatist unrest in Serbia's autonomous province of Kosovo.
Milošević's presidency of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was marked by several major reforms to Serbia's constitution from the 1980s to the 1990s that reduced the powers of the autonomous provinces in Serbia. In 1990 Serbia transitioned from a Titoist one-party system to a multi-party system and attempted reforms to the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia. The constituent republics of the country split apart amid the outbreak of wars, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded by the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro. Milošević negotiated the Dayton Agreement on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, which ended the Bosnian War in 1995.
During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Milošević was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. He became the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes. Milošević resigned from the Yugoslav presidency amid demonstrations following the disputed presidential election of 24 September 2000, and he was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities on 31 March 2001 on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement. The initial investigation into Milošević faltered for lack of evidence, prompting the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić to extradite him to the ICTY to stand trial for charges of war crimes instead. At the outset of the trial, Milošević denounced the Tribunal as illegal because it had not been established with the consent of the United Nations General Assembly; therefore he refused to appoint counsel for his defence. Milošević conducted his own defence in the five-year-long trial, which ended without a verdict when he died in his prison cell in The Hague on 11 March 2006. Milošević suffered from heart ailments and hypertension, and died of a heart attack. The Tribunal denied any responsibility for Milošević's death and stated that he had refused to take prescribed medicines and medicated himself instead.
After Milošević's death, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded separately in the Bosnian Genocide Case that there was no evidence linking him to genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian War. However, the Court did find that Milošević and others in Serbia had committed a breach of the Genocide Convention by failing to prevent the genocide from occurring and for not cooperating with the ICTY in punishing the perpetrators of the genocide, in particular General Ratko Mladić, and for violating its obligation to comply with the provisional measures ordered by the Court. Milošević's rule has been described by observers as authoritarian or autocratic, as well as kleptocratic, with numerous accusations of electoral frauds, political assassinations, suppression of press freedom and police brutality.
Milošević's father Svetozar and mother Stanislava with brother Borislav
and Slobodan as children.
Milošević had ancestral roots from the Lijeva Rijeka village in Podgorica and was of the Vasojevići clan from Montenegro. He was born in Požarevac, four months after the Axis invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and raised during the Axis occupation of World War II. He had an older brother Borislav who would later become a diplomat. His parents separated in the aftermath of the war. His father, the Serbian Orthodox theologian
Svetozar Milošević , committed suicide in 1962. Svetozar's father Simeun was an officer in the Montenegrin Army. Milošević's mother Stanislava (née Koljenšić), a school teacher and also an active member of the Communist Party, committed suicide in 1972. Her brother (Milošević's maternal uncle) Milisav Koljenšić was a major-general in the Yugoslav People's Army who committed suicide in 1963.
Milošević went on to study law at the University of Belgrade's Law School, where he became the head of the ideology committee of the Yugoslav Communist League's (SKJ) student branch (SSOJ). While at the university, he befriended Ivan Stambolić, whose uncle Petar Stambolić had been a president of Serbian Executive Council (the Communist equivalent of a prime minister). This was to prove a crucial connection for Milošević's career prospects, as Stambolić sponsored his rise through the SKJ hierarchy.
After his graduation in 1966, Milošević became an economic advisor to Mayor of Belgrade Branko Pešić. Five years later, he married his childhood friend, Mirjana Marković, with whom he had two children: Marko and Marija. Marković would have some influence on Milošević's political career both before and after his rise to power; she was also leader of her husband's junior coalition partner, Yugoslav Left (JUL) in the 1990s. In 1968, Milošević got a job at the Tehnogas company, where Stambolić was working, and became its chairman in 1973. By 1978, Stambolić's sponsorship had enabled Milošević to become the head of Beobanka, one of Yugoslavia's largest banks; his frequent trips to Paris and New York gave him the opportunity to learn English.