It was a day of conflicting emotions in Serbia for the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic.
The former Yugoslav president was given a hero’s farewell by thousands of supporters but the event was shunned by the rest of the country and the government. It had all the trappings of a state funeral but that privilege was denied him by the Serb authorities. Milosevic, who was 64, died on March 11 of heart failure in his cell at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he was on trial for his role in the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Ahead of the funeral, thousands attended a rally in Milosevic’s honour outside the parliament in Belgrade where the former president was ousted from power in 2000. Later a cortege travelled to his provincial home town of Pozarevac, east of the capital. Again, there was a significant turnout for the burial. He was laid to rest in the garden, under a lime tree where, it is claimed, he first kissed his high-school sweetheart who later became his wife, Mira Markovic. Neither she nor their son Marko, both in exile in Russia, attended the funeral amid fears they could be arrested. In another part of town, the mood was different. Around 2,000 pro-democracy activists rallied to recall their long years of opposition to the former president.