Tito's widow lives in squalor
Choked in ivy, its balconies and pillars crumbling, the once-imposing villa looks as if it were abandoned years ago. A curtain twitches. A dark-haired woman wearing sunglasses peers out before whipping it back.
She lives in just two rooms of the spacious property and one of those has a hole in the ceiling. The others are uninhabitable owing to damp, mold and broken windows.
There has been no heating for 25 years. Water has to be heated on a stove.
Many elderly residents of Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, in straitened circumstances share a similar fate. But this is the home of the widow of the former Yugoslavia's communist dictator, Josip Broz Tito.
Jovanka Broz, 81, was discovered living in penury after her sister, Nada, wrote to newspapers to complain of the "disgraceful way" the former first lady was "forced to live."
"Little better than a bag lady" was the headline in one newspaper, amazed to discover that she was still alive.
"This lady used to have such high standards, and now everything around her is rotting, even her wallpaper," said Ljubica Bauk, who was Mrs. Broz's personal maid for 20 years. She now lives in a cold one-room apartment next to her former mistress's rusting entrance gate.
Tito's widow reportedly has three bodyguards supplied by the Interior Ministry and a gardener. But they are nowhere to be seen. The garden is a mess of mud and weeds. The Serbian minister of minorities and human rights, Rasim Ljajic, has now taken up her case, forced to act after Macedonian businessmen appeared at her door offering to help.
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