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Dissident Djilas Wins Passport for Visit to West

January 26, 1987|Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Milovan Djilas, one of the first leading East European communists to turn against the system, has won permission to go West in a move some see as a liberal gesture by the Yugoslav government.

It would be his first trip abroad since 1969.

He said in an interview that he believes the permission to travel shows that "the attitude toward me is changing."

Alternately jailed, criticized or left in uneasy peace by Yugoslav authorities, Djilas pointed to the increasingly outspoken state-run news media as one sign that more criticism is now tolerated in this Communist-ruled country.

At a meeting with officials last week, the 75-year-old Djilas got the passport he applied for at the new year so he could have a reunion with his son Aleksa in London. The passport was granted on condition he refrain from outspoken political comments.

He says he will not accept any invitations to lecture. But he indicated that he may speak out in interviews.

Close Aide to Tito

"The horse may have lost its trot but not its neigh," Djilas noted, using a proverb from his native Montenegro.

A close aide of future leader Josip Broz Tito and later Tito's heir-apparent, Djilas was known among World War II partisans fighting the Nazis as a propagandist with a penchant for vicious attacks on the Communists' opponents.

His memoirs show that his disillusionment with Soviet-style communism grew after meetings with Josef Stalin and before Yugoslavia broke with Moscow in 1948.

In 1953, as a vice president, Djilas wrote articles arguing that the Communists had achieved most of their aims and should loosen control.

That cost him his party functions in 1954, and he resigned his government posts in protest.

Djilas, officially a "nobody" in Yugoslavia, continued to meet foreign journalists in Belgrade and smuggled his book, "The New Class," to New York.

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