- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2000

Nobles: The people of Serbia.Take a ruthless tyrant, already branded an international war criminal, add in a vast array of human rights abuses, throw in an election, and the result should be predictable.

But tyrants are not so easily dismissed. By any account (and no matter how it had to be counted), Slobodan Milosevic should not have lost the election he carefully staged on Sept. 24. Yet, the people of Serbia still took a dare on democracy.

In what appeared to be almost overwhelming numbers, they voted for a 56-year-old lawyer named Vojislav Kostunica. When it became apparent that, to the surprise of approximately 0 percent of observers, there had been widespread fraud by Mr. Milosevic, the people of Serbia held spontaneous protests and strikes.

Some 4,500 workers at the Kolubara coal mines, which supply nearly half of Serbia's electricity, walked out and refused to be cowed when Mr. Milosevic sent soldiers to the gates. When Mr. Milosevic called for "special" measures, the people of Serbia took to the streets, demanding that the rightfully elected government assume power.

It appears that it will. As of this writing, Mr. Milosevic has apparently fled into the sort of permanent exile reserved for aging despots.

On this tenth anniversary of German reunification, the people of Serbia deserve special recognition for reminding us again that ballots occasionally do triumph over bullets.

Knaves: The admiring visitors at the only public museum honoring Stalin.

Take a ruthless tyrant who should long ago have been branded an international war criminal, add in a vast array of human rights abuses, throw in a 50-year gap along with the destruction of the state that he governed and the result should not automatically be a museum in his honor.

Yet that is exactly what has happened in Gori, Georgia, the hometown of one of the most bloodthirsty dictators the 20th century has known Joseph Stalin. According to reliable estimates, Stalin killed many millions of people in his lifetime, and had millions more sent to camps across Siberia. Paranoid to the core, he destroyed the lives and families of any individual he thought had any possibility of becoming a threat.

In Gori, visitors find the Stalin Museum, a palatial structure dedicated to the "accomplishments" of the so-called man of steel (a nickname that was undoubtedly given because of the bullets that ended the lives of so many of his victims). According to a recent New York Times story on the museum, "For each boast about a Stalin accomplishment, there is a defense for his reputation as a cold-hearted thug who sentenced enemies and innocent citizens to death and labor camps."

Visitors also find admiring natives, including 16-year-old Irma Kutashvili, who told a reporter, "Stalin was a great hero."

Although teen-agers worship many strange creatures (including the members of the band N'Sync), it is worth noting that when they are taught to admire tyrants, ballots become meaningless.

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