World Bulletin/News Desk
The widow of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic has dismissed news the European Union had lifted a 15-year freeze on family assets, telling a local newspaper that they owned nothing outside of Serbia.
Tuesday's decision by the EU triggered speculation that the family and several close associates of the man who presided over the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s may now get their hands on millions of euros that Milosevic's opponents say his regime smuggled abroad during a decade of war and sanctions.
But his widow, Mira Markovic, who has lived in Russia for more than a decade since Milosevic's 2000 ouster, told the Vecernje Novosti newspaper the EU decision meant nothing.
"We laughed," she was quoted as saying from Moscow. "Neither I, my late husband, nor our children ever had or have any kind of property in the European Union. Everything we have is in Serbia."
Markovic, 72, said the family had a house in her and Milosevic's hometown of Pozerevac, where Milosevic was buried in 2006 after he died in his cell in The Hague while standing trial for war crimes, and a house in the capital Belgrade that they had rented out.
Their son, Marko, also lives in Russia. A daughter, Marija, is believed to live in Montenegro.
The European Union, in a decision published on Wednesday, said it had no grounds to continue the asset freeze, saying those people targeted no longer posed a threat to the "consolidation of democracy" in the region.
The Socialist Party once led by Milosevic, and which is now part of a ruling coalition setting out on talks to join the 28-nation EU bloc, welcomed the decision.
But liberal Zarko Korac, who served in Serbia's first post-Milosevic government, said the move sent out a message that "crime pays" and accused the family of stealing billions of then Deutschmarks, smuggled out in suitcases to Cyprus and Russia. Official investigations, launched after Milosevic lost power, failed to locate any money.
Markovic described the claims as "nonsense".
"I came to Russia for 10 days and stayed, 11 years already. I came with my luggage, including three pairs of glasses, two skirts, two jumpers and a box of aspirin."
Asked what she lived off, Milosevic's widow replied: "My pension - 58,000 dinars (488 euros)." (1 euro = 118.7709 Serbian dinar)
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