In his career he rose to become the president of Yugoslavia. In August he was assassinated just before a national, pivotal election,  the event itself and reasoning for which is extremely important in understanding some of the events that occurred before the Yugoslav Wars. This political and personal relationship is how his career came to an abrupt end in He disappeared on 25 August under strange circumstances which was, in-fact, a politically motivated assassination. It is widely reported that several members of a Special Operations Unit had had a hand in the ordeal and were later tried and convicted. Police blamed his former protege for the murder ".
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Prior to Djindjic's killing, the case of Stambolic, who was shot twice while in the centre of Belgrade, was the most significant political murder of the late Milosevic era. It was a time of licensed criminality in Serbia, and political scores were settled at gunpoint. Stambolic's career was effectively ended in , when Milosevic staged a coup and took over the Serbian Communist party, relegating his closest friend to the margins. Stambolic was being groomed by the US for an opposition role to Milosevic in Belgrade in summer when, while resting on a park bench, he was bundled into the back of a white van and never seen again.
Just before he disappeared, Stambolic was mulling over taking revenge on Milosevic, whose career he made. He had secret dinners in western Europe with former communist leaders from other parts of former Yugoslavia to plot the post-Milosevic era. For Stambolic, scion of a prominent Serbian political dynasty, his feelings about Milosevic were not so much political as personal. For 25 years, they were intimates - through university, banking, in management, in communist politics - until December , when Milosevic embarked on his 13 years of disastrous rule by outmanoeuvring his closest friend and having him fired as president of Serbia.
Stambolic was a personable and generous, if slightly naive, reformist communist leader whose uncle Petar Stambolic was a sometime president of Serbia and a party boss, which assured Ivan progress up the career ladder as a member of what Milovan Djilas dubbed "the new class" - Yugoslavia's communist elite. Born near the town of Cacak, Stambolic worked in a factory before enrolling at Belgrade university around It was here that he struck up the relationship that was to shape the future of the Balkans.
Milosevic, an ambitious law student five years his junior, attached himself like a limpet to Stambolic. The two were inseparable, with Milosevic shadowing the elder man's career. Milosevic was godfather to Stambolic's children. Stambolic was best man at Milosevic's wedding. Stambolic became head of Tehnogas, the Yugoslav gas company. When he moved on, Milosevic took over.
His previous post as chief of the key Belgrade branch was filled by Milosevic. Ditto two years later when Stambolic became Serbian president and Milosevic took over the Serbian Communist party. Then in late , Milosevic made his move, displaying the tactical genius and absence of remorse that were to become his hallmarks. As president and party chief, Stambolic had been a moderate, reforming anti-nationalist, appointing liberals who opposed Milosevic to key posts.
Milosevic used Kosovo to whip up nationalist anti-Albanian sentiment, secured the support of the ageing generation of military strongmen in Belgrade, and had Stambolic humiliated at the eighth session of the Serbian Communist party in September Three months later Milosevic had Stambolic voted down as Serbian president. The relationship was terminated conclusively within months of his fall from power, when Milosevic showed up at the funeral of Stambolic's daughter, Bojana, who was killed in a road accident.
Stambolic's wife, Katja, refused to acknowledge Milosevic. In his memoir, Road To Nowhere, Stambolic bitterly recounted how he was abused and manipulated by Milosevic. But through the wars of the s and Milosevic's destruction of Yugoslavia, Stambolic declined to become a rallying point for the Serbian opposition.
His could have been a potent role - he would have attracted much of the traditional leftist vote that went to Milosevic's socialists. It was only in , a few months before Milosevic was overthrown by street pressure and insurrection within his security apparatus, that Stambolic contemplated a comeback, providing the most plausible explanation as to why he was murdered.
Serbian police last week identified four suspects and also want to question Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, who has fled to Moscow. Talk of death and killing long predated August Latinka Perovic, a Belgrade human rights activist who investigated the Stambolic abduction, said the dead man's brother Vukasin told him that Milosevic had threatened Stambolic's life.
During that coup that set Yugoslavia on the path to destruction and Milosevic on a trajectory to the dock in the Hague, Vukasin reported, Milosevic said to Stambolic: "Why don't you kill yourself? You will be dead. Ivan Stambolic, former president of Serbia and political mentor of Slobodan Milosevic, has been confirmed dead almost three years after he disappeared, aged 63, from the leafy Belgrade suburb of Banovo Brdo. His corpse was located last week in a quicklime ditch in northern Serbia after police, investigating the assassination of the prime minister Zoran Djindjic obituary March 13 , unravelled at least part of the earlier murder mystery.
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It was one of the bitter ironies of late 20th-century Balkan politics that Ivan Stambolic, a leading advocate of compromise and inter-racial tolerance, did more than anyone else to help the rise to power of a man whose brand of Serbian nationalism triggered the old Yugoslavia's collapse and a decade of bloody conflict across several ex-Yugoslav republics — Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic repaid his closest friend and mentor by stabbing him in the back. In a palace revolution which took place within Serbia's Communist establishment in , Stambolic was removed from the post of President and consigned to the political wilderness at the age of Thirteen years later Stambolic's friends were to accuse Milosevic of being behind the ex-President's mysterious abduction just a month before the Yugoslav presidential elections of September which finally brought about Milosevic's own downfall. They pointed an accusing finger at the secret police, arguing that the increasingly critical Stambolic had become an embarrassment — and possibly even a potential rival — to the beleaguered President as he faced defeat in the presidential contest.
Political ties. Detained on 25 August in Belgrade, Ivan Stambolic, born , was the last president of the Republic of Serbia before Slobodan Milosevic and was overthrown by Milosevic on 24 September Throughout the war years, Stambolic as one of the most distinguished political figures of former Yugoslavia maintained constant and often very close relations with the highest levels of political leadership in the former Yugoslav republics: Kiro Gligorov, former president of Macedonia; Milan Kucan, president of Slovenia; Milo Djukanovic, president of the Republic of Montenegro; and Milorad Dodik, former premier of Republika Srpska. Stipe Mesic, president of Croatia, so respects Stambolic that he made a special public appeal on his behalf. Stambolic visited Sarajevo under siege in and established good relations with Alija Izetbegovic. He was a respected figure within the Serbian opposition to the Milosevic regime.
Assassination of Ivan Stambolić