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A Onetime Ally to Milosevic Turns Critic

BORISAV Jovic, the last Serbian president in the former Yugoslav federation, wants to get one thing straight. He was not purged from the Socialist Party of Serbia because he published a tell-all narration of his country's disintegration, releasing it while President Slobodan Milosevic was at the Dayton peace talks last fall.

Instead, Mr. Jovic says, his falling out with Mr. Milosevic centered on the president's wife, Mirjana Markovic, who leads the neo-communist United Left of Yugoslavia (JUL). Her party is composed mostly of wealthy businessmen and former communist apparatchiks who seek a return to the old system.

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Milosevic has been taking steps toward aligning his ruling Socialist Party with the JUL. Milosevic recognizes that modernization would loosen his grip on the economy and diminish his hold on power, so he wants to retain some ties to the past.

Jovic, who served under Milosevic as party vice president, bitterly opposed the alliance. ''They're not for the common people's interests, but for their own,'' says Jovic, an economist. ''Every orientation in the direction of the old days is a mistake and will jeopardize the party.''

Jovic was one of several former allies purged from the party just after Milosevic's return from Dayton. Analysts say the purges send a clear signal that in-house dissent will not be tolerated. ''It's unwise to be against the general trend set by Milosevic,'' Socialist Party spokesman Branislav Popovic says.

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