By KARL SCHWEIZER
EVERETT — The departure of Slobodan Milosevic from power in Yugoslavia couldn’t have come soon enough for one local Serb family.
Zoran and Branislava Kuzminac left their impoverished nation Aug. 29 to start a new life in Everett.
The married couple on Friday said they are optimistic about Yugoslavia’s future, now that its longtime ruler has stepped down. Some of their relatives joined thousands of street protestors calling for Milosevic’s ouster.
"If it is the start of something new, a new life for our people, then we are glad. It is good to have another chance," said Zoran, a dentist who spent the last several years as a U.S. embassy guard in Belgrade. "We had many problems when Milosevic started to rule the country. He didn’t solve those problems."
The newly elected president of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, is a staunch advocate of democracy, and was one of the original leaders of the opposition to Milosevic, said Branislava.
"In 10 years, Kostunica didn’t change his ideas. He is not moving as the wind is blowing," she said.
The couple blamed Milosevic for ignoring his country’s problems while becoming rich himself, and failing to share power.
"Fifteen years ago, Milosevic lived in a small apartment and drove a small car, but now, he is a very rich man," Zoran said.
"Milosevic decided everything. If someone close to him didn’t agree with him, he got rid of that person," he said.
International economic sanctions withered Yugoslavia’s economy and forced many educated people to work outside their professions, said Branislava. Zoran ended up as a guard because it paid better than scarce jobs in dentistry.
The couple and their six children now live in a south Everett home.
Zoran wants to improve his English, get a job as a dental hygienist, and eventually become a dentist here. His wife takes care of their children, most of whom learned some English at schools in Yugoslavia.
But they keep a close eye on events in their former country, and they remain cautiously optimistic.
"Kostunica is a good, educated man and a good person, but we don’t know what kind of leader he will be," said Branislava, "But there is no way to be worse than Milosevic."
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