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August 2, 1997
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 304
Children of the Powerful

Serbia’s Golden Young

by Biljana Ristanic & Zoran B. Nikolic

"The people who are really rich are rarely in sight," a source from Serbian celebrity circles told VREME. "They sometimes appear at in places to pick someone up and disappear quickly." The rumors that the fun continues at private parties in villas with pools or at far away places where private planes take you are impossible to verify but they certainly strengthen the image of decadence among the newly rich.

Sociologists use the term "Budembrock rhythm" to describe the rate of rise and fall among the rich: the first generation amasses wealth, the second goes to school and the third drinks it all away. The impression now is that the first generation of the powerful is getting richer and wasting more while honest people are falling ever lower; or is the first generation ruling and amassing wealth while the second wastes it away with an arrogance common to both fathers and sons. At least that’s the message coming from the elite of the political and economic power here.

The children of the two percent of the population covered by a poll conducted by the Social Sciences’ Institute’s Center for Economic Research were listed as rich. They were obviously more exposed than the people at the top of the pyramid of political and economic power but they broadcast the same message. Although those 200,000 people spend over four times what the remaining 10 million Yugoslavs spend, the sum total of their individual assets does not exceed a million DEM. That makes their status position unstable, incomplete and insecure since a relatively small loss of several hundred thousand DEM would take them back to where they started. Their behavior is paranoid, On the one hand, they’re trying fiercely to earn even more to strengthen their position and on the other, knowing that they could be reduced to poverty overnight, they spend money as if there’s no tomorrow.

That tension creates aggression and arrogance which is especially attractive to immature children. That makes them the main audience for techno-folk and Yu-dance discos in their Versace outfits, four wheel drive convertibles with cocaine, heavy gold jewelry and automatic weapons.

The basic criteria of value is the price: the important thing is to have the most expensive thing and to show everyone it’s yours. What impresses them most is the packaging, appearance, image, name. Members of that social circle who are currently in Greece, Spain or Italy use products whose labels do mean quality but above all are a mark of prestige and they constantly want more and more. That often means cocaine or adrenaline with the same final result: a feeling of power. That’s why they drive fast and live dangerously.

Those children of powerful parents look up to authentic criminals who are close to them in age but got everything they own by themselves. They’re the models they want to be like because it’s a way out of family tension, despotic parents and provides a life of ease and excitement. All of them try to be fierce, tough and ruthless in their efforts to topple limits and taboos. Even sex is seen not as a source of pleasure but as a way to prove supremacy. They love a band called Moby Dick whose lyrics glorify the world of crime ("Give me a son, the king of cocaine" one song says).

It’s a man’s world n which women are only a status symbol, a piece of property who loves her subordinate role, a world that cringes from weakness where the law of the strongest prevails and it’s inhabitants are at constant war with everyone. Real criminals know their superiority and look on them in disgust. Attempts by spoiled brats who don’t know themselves or the reality of the world around them to learn the criminal trade quickly usually end tragically. Three years ago Dejan Marjanovic Saban, the son of a successful Belgrade architect, paid for his involvement in shady deals with his life.

The search for new values and excitement started in the early 1980s when the in places were the meeting place of the well to do. The first fatalities in the fusion were recorded at the time. The older daughter of former Yugoslavia’s Presidency President Cvjetin Mijatovic died of a heroin overdose, not because she took too much but because the product was impure and given to her as an act of revenge. She enjoyed complete police immunity but sent many of her suppliers to jail.

Some people, who aren’t prone to exaggeration, see that part of their lives as crazy youth which will end when they settle down to raise families.

No one even dares to ask about the bank accounts of high ranking politicians who are officially not engaged in business activities. Rarely, if ever, can the wealth of the really powerful be assessed. Nedeljni Telegraf claimed last year that the Karic family has assets of 150 million DEM, a claim that was never denied. Nenad Djordjevic, owner of the BTC trade company and a JUL donor, is said to be worth between 50 and 130 million DEM, while Geneks director Zoran Drakulic is reported to be worth about 100 million. Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic is thought to be worth just 40 to 50 million DEM while some of his ministers have assets of 10-20 million DEM. In all, the estimate is that the FRY has just several hundred millionaires and less than a hundred with over 10 million DEM.

So the fathers party in private as well. Their offspring rarely cause public scandals, they attend school at Cambridge, Oxford, in Switzerland or the US. An informed source reported that Serbian parliament Speaker Dragan Tomic’s daughters are in schools in England and Japan. They’ve been allowed to live in luxury but in essence they’re hostage to their parent’s ambitions.

A poll conducted last year showed that 40% of company directors are the children of experts who were in the middle layers of management. Those 40% are aged between 25 and 35 which means their fathers are at the peak of their careers.

Of all the children from rich families we know the most about FRY President Slobodan Milosevic’s son and daughter. They’re also the most attractive to the press. Just as the son of late Serbian police chief Radovan Stojicic showed his arrogance to his father’s men, Marko and Marija Milosevic are a spitting image of their parents in public. Like their parents they show generosity in public. Their father’s inauguration as president was celebrated in their clubs in Belgrade and Pozarevac with free drinks for 2,500 guests. The cost was tens of thousands of DEM. Since the president’s salary is about 2,000 DEM a month, Marko spent everything his father earned as Serbian president in one night.

The Milosevic children are also firmly linked to the populist cult model and they’re among its most important promoters: Marko through his glamorous lifestyle and impeccable style in his disco and Marija through Radio Kosava which plays all the dance favorites. Like their father in his day, they’re trying to show that their taste is no different to that of the masses. They’re always ready to strike back at anyone who tries to get in their way. That’s why the young people who don’t want to be thrown back to the poverty their parents went through see them as a fantastic example.

The Milosevic family from Pozarevac show the self-satisfaction of a rich small town family in everything they do.

The cost of a "golden child"

Cars: the latest Mercedes or BMW convertibles - 40-100,000 DEM

Mobile phones: 300-1,300 DEM

Weapons: 300 DEM for Yugoslav made pistols to 1,500 DEM for automatic weapons or specially made guns

Jewelry: The thicker the gold chain the better. They’re usually made of 14 carat gold and weigh up to 500 grams for men. Women prefer diamonds but also accept other expensive jewelry. The prices vary greatly from 100 DEM for a Versace shirt button to thousands of DEM for other items

Clothes: Versace

Men’s suits: 1,000-2,000 DEM

Dresses: 1,000 DEM and higher

Men’s shirts: 250-300 DEM

Cotton T-shirts: 100-200 DEM

Going out on the town

Clubs charge 15-20 dinars for men and are usually free for women

Coffee: 15-20 dinars

Beer: 18-30 dinars

Cocktails: 35 dinars

Juices: 20 dinars

Wine: 90 dinars a bottle

Whiskey: 30 dinars and higher

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