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The widow and son of controversial Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic
The widow and son of controversial Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic were granted political asylum in Russia in March 2006, a Russian Federal Migration Service official said on Friday.

"Refugee status was granted to the ex-president's widow Mirjana Markovic and son Marko Milosevic in March 2006 in accordance with a UN convention," Konstantin Poltoranin said confirming earlier Serbian media reports.

Both of them are wanted in Serbia for heading a cigarette smuggling ring in the early 1990s, activities investigators said netted them several million dollars. The mother and son, who have lived in Moscow for the last several years, have denied the charges, but have refused to return to the country for the investigation.

Mirjana Markovic made no comment on Friday's report. "No comment, I am sorry," she told a Serbian reporter on the telephone.

Milosevic, who led Yugoslavia into war and international isolation, culminating in the NATO bombing of the country in 1999, died in custody in The Hague in March 2006, before a UN war crimes tribunal was to pass a verdict on his role in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

The family was not present at his funeral as Serbian authorities failed to provide them with sufficient security guarantees.

Markovic was also accused in 2002 of abuse of power for giving a state apartment to the nanny of her grandchild. Marko also faced charges of threatening to kill an opposition youth group member in 2001, which were later dropped.

In 2002, the ex-president's daughter, Maria, was sentenced to eight months in prison and received an additional two-year suspended sentence for possessing weapons during her father's arrest in April 2001.

The former leader was reported to have died of a heart attack. He had repeatedly complained of high blood pressure and chest pains asking for permission to undergo treatment in Moscow, which was denied.

Milosevic's brother, Borislav, who was the Yugoslav ambassador to Russia, also lives in Moscow.


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