BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- In his first public appearance since losing power, a defiant Slobodan Milosevic chaired his troubled party's congress on Saturday, denouncing the pro-democratic government that ousted him as Western traitors and occupiers.
The harshly worded opening speech showed that the former Yugoslav strongman intends to come back to power using the same vintage themes that led the country to become a pariah state. Milosevic has been indicted for war crimes and is accused by most of his countrymen of causing economic and social misery during his 13-year reign,
"We all know what kind of violence and lawlessness took place after the Oct. 5 coup," Milosevic told some 2,300 Socialist Party delegates, referring to street riots that ended his rule.
He has long asserted that those who sought his removal were actually "paid Western spies" who are aiding the "occupation" of the country. He described these efforts as being a war -- and argued it wasn't yet over.
"The war which is being conducted against this country is now being conducted with (Western) money," Milosevic said.
He said that with the money, the West wants to bribe the new leadership so they would allow the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Calling them "traitors" he said they want to hand Serbian "national heroes" to the "new Gestapo" in The Hague. The Netherlands-based U.N. tribunal has indicted Milosevic and four of his top aides for war crimes in Kosovo.
Milosevic entered the congress hall surrounded by a handful of his loyal bodyguards. A few protesters shouted, "Thieves! Thieves!"
About 100 party activists -- a far cry from thousands that were bused to Belgrade to greet Milosevic during the last party congress in February -- waved Yugoslav flags and displayed heart-shaped Socialist badges outside the congress at the Sava Center.
The congress was closed to the public and most of the media. Milosevic's speech was provided to The Associated Press by Yu Info television.
Milosevic called on his associates to maintain unity and scolded the new pro-democracy government that unseated him for alleged attempts to destroy his party and the country's integrity.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.