‘Political refugee’ in Russia
Mirjana Markovic fled to Russia in 2003. Two years later, Serbian prosecutors charged her with enticement to corruption. Russian prosecutors rejected the international arrest warrant from Serbia in 2010, claiming that Mirjana Markovic has a status of “political refugee” in their country.
It took Serbian courts 13 years to pass a verdict against her — she was convicted in absentia to a year in prison. Even this verdict was overturned in early 2019, with a court ordering a retrial.
It should not be surprising that a large part of her rhetoric survived in Serbia until the present day. During 1990s anti-regime rallies, protesters dubbed her “the red witch.” In turn, she would write columns describing her opponents as “hordes” of “traitors.”
The Serbian media was ruled by the iron fist of her husband’s party, but she would nevertheless claim it was running a smear campaign against them. Until the very end, she believed that Germany, the Vatican, the US, and Islamic extremists were conspiring against Serbia, which she identified with her family. She dubbed the Hague tribunal “the Gestapo of our times.”
Unlike her husband, who was happy to share an occasional whiskey with global diplomats and keep away from the public eye, she wanted to be seen, to be a revolutionary, to be the nation’s sweetheart. She had an opinion about everything. She could often sound infantile while speaking in public, but her words spelled danger for any person she would mention.
All of her techniques, flowing from an ideological mix of nationalism, communism, and the unique mixture of propaganda and paranoia that shaped her worldview, are still used by the present-day Serbian government, led by her husband’s one-time allies.