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Exit Festival

international news _ 20th March, 2006

Pet Shop Boys Headline Serbia's Exit 2006

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

The Pet Shop Boys, Franz Ferdinand, Richie Hawtin and techno king Dave Clarke will be the main attractions at this year's Exit Festival, which takes places as usual over three nights in the historic hilltop fortress village of Petrovaradin, Novi Sad.

The organiser's line-up announcement coincided with the sudden death of Serbia's erstwhile dictator Slobodan Milosovevic, who died of a suspected heart attack as his trial on genocide charges in The Hague approached its conclusion. British politician Paddy Ashdown, who was the UN man in charge of Bosnia and Herzegovnia between 2002 and the end of last year, described the former Serb leader's death as 'an act of closure on the Balkan Wars' and called on Serbia to be admitted to the European as soon as possible.

"I anticipate that Milosovevic's death could lead to a short term period of some instability," Mr Ashdown told the Observer, "particularly in Serbia and Montenegro, among the old recidivists who wish to continue to live in the past and will want to use this event to destabilise the situation," he warned.

Any such instability is unlikely to affect Exit, however, which in recent years has become one of the highest profile festivals throughout the whole of Europe, despite being targeted by conservative forces for its role in reducing Serbia's isolation. As recently as two years ago Exit founder Dusan Kovacevic and managing director Bojan Boskovic were briefly jailed on trumped up charges of accounting irregularities, in a move Exit described as politically motivated.

"The campaign is conducted by the same forces which have driven young people out of the country, who are against reforms and a European Serbia and want to lead the country back into isolation," Exit organisers said while the pair were still locked up.

"Every year they say that the festival will fail, but Exit is one of the few events in Serbia which has found a place on the cultural map of Europe."

Both Exit chiefs were fully exonerated days later, in time to catch 2004's headliners Massive Attack and the Stooges.

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