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Belgrade is to seek an explanation from Moscow
Belgrade is to seek an explanation from Moscow as to the grounds on which Russia granted political asylum to the widow and son of the late Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, national media said on Friday.

"Serbia shall ask, through diplomatic channels, for an explanation as to why and under which circumstances political asylum was granted," the Serbian Blic newspaper said, quoting Snezana Malovic, the state secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Justice.

Konstantin Poltoranin, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Migration Service, said two weeks ago that refugee status had been granted to the ex-president's widow, Mirjana Markovic, and son, Marko Milosevic, in March 2006 in accordance with a UN convention.

Reports regarding the granting of political asylum by Russia to Markovic and Milosevic were first circulated over two weeks ago by Serbian media, but the Russian Foreign Ministry said at the time it was unable to confirm or deny reports.

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

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.

He 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.

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

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

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