A musical about the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was staged in Kosovo on Tuesday, drawing strong emotions in the nation still reeling from a bloody war that the former strongman waged here 20 years ago.
“Lift: Slobodan Show” premiered at a packed theater in Gracanica, a Serb-populated town outside Kosovo’s capital of Pristina. It was performed by a local theater group and artists from Serbia.
Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority shunned the play, reflecting the continued ethnic divisions in the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Milosevic’s brutal crackdown on Kosovo’s separatist ethnic Albanians in 1998-99 killed some 10,000 people.
Independent analyst Shkelzen Maliqi wrote in the newspaper Express: “I do not intend to see the show. I would not like to listen to the text with quotes from Slobo.”
The play deals with Milosevic’s era in power as well as the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo. It combines historic events, personal moments between Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic, and real-life stories of the actors, most of who come from Kosovo.
Focused on the late 1990s during the bloodshed in Kosovo, the play also relates to the period after Milosevic’s ouster in a popular revolution in 2000 and his subsequent UN war crimes trial. Director Nenad Todorovic, a Serb from Kosovo, explained that “the theme (of the play) is Milosevic because he is the last Serbian taboo.”
Milosevic is widely seen as the main architect of the bloody Balkan conflicts, but Serbs in both Kosovo and Serbia remain divided over his historic role even though his rule brought sharp economic decline, international sanctions and a crackdown on political opponents. (AP)