Milosevic, Slobodan

born 1941, Poarevac, Serbia

Yugoslav and Serbian political leader, president of Serbia (1989-97) and of Yugoslavia (1997). He joined the Communist party in 1959, beginning his political career in the 1960s as an economic adviser to the mayor of Belgrade and holding various posts in the party and state enterprises. He became the leader of the Belgrade Communist party in 1984 and Serbian party leader in 1986. Initially opposed to liberalization, he was elected president of Serbia in 1989 and proceeded to transform its Communist party into the nationalistic Socialist party. Milosevic called for the inclusion of Serb areas in other republics in a "greater Serbia" as the price for Yugoslavia's dissolution. He supported Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after the two became independent and was widely blamed for the Serbs' military aggression and brutal "ethnic cleansing" policies, but he ultimately abandoned the Serbs, signing (1995) a peace accord. Barred from a third term as Serbia's president, he became president of all Yugoslavia in 1997. In 1999, his government's refusal to restore autonomy to Kosovo led to NATO air attacks on Yugoslavia as Serbian forces deported hundreds of thousands of Albanian Kosovars; Serbia was forced to withdraw from Kosovo. As a result of Serbian actions, Milosevic was charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) . He is currently awaiting trial at the Hague following his transfer to the ICTY.