Borislav Milosevic served as Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Russia during the rule of his brother, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. After his Slobodan Milosevic’s death on Saturday in his prison cell in The Hague, Borislav Milosevic, now living in self-imposed exile in Moscow along with Milosevic’s wife and son, spoke to NBC’s Preston Mendenhall about his brother’s death and controversial legacy.
Preston Mendenhall: When was the last time you spoke to your brother?
Borislav Milosevic: We spoke last Thursday. He was preparing for the next court session.
PM: Was there any discussion about how he was feeling?
BM: No, he said he was feeling fine. He spoke very little about his health. A few months ago, in October, he complained about pain in his ears and eyes and noises in his head. He told me, "It’s like when we were kids and we put buckets over our heads and spoke."
PM: What is the Milosevic family’s reaction to the circumstances of Slobodan Milosevic’s death in prison?
BM: It’s a heavy blow. The court never looked after his health. You can’t say his death was very sudden. It was going to happen sooner or later. He’s been on trial for four years, both as a defendant and representing himself. The court doctors gave him pills for his blood pressure, and they weren’t effective. Slobodan had hoped that the court would allow him to come to Moscow for a few weeks for treatment. The doctors here told me that if Slobodan weren’t treated his condition would become irreversible. There was a high probability of a hearth attack. The full responsibility for his death lies with the tribunal.
PM: What does the family, and the Serb nation, see as Slobodan Milosevic’s legacy?
BM: I am sure he will take his place in the history of the Serb people. A worthy place. He is one of the outstanding personalities of the nation. An outstanding statesman. His struggle was cut short by his death. Even if he wasn’t victorious in that struggle, he was not defeated either. And for his people and the country, that means a lot.
PM: Did he every show any remorse for the death and destruction that occurred under his rule and led to his indictment for war crimes?
BM: Of course, he was remorseful, without a doubt. But he was not guilty of any of it. He acted legitimately as the head of state. The Western powers made a conscious decision to destroy Yugoslavia for their geopolitical interests.
PM: Did Slobodan Milosevic think he would be found innocent in the trial in The Hague?
BM: I don’t know. The court is political … more political than legal. It has its goal: to judge Slobodan Milosevic and other Serb leaders in a way that justify the actions (of the West).
PM: Your brother, through his lawyers, said he thought there might be attempts to poison him while he was in prison.
BM: I heard that statement from his lawyer. I have no reason to doubt it. Slobodan was not a paranoid man. Never in his life. If he felt someone was trying to kill him, he would have had good reason believe it.