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Aleksandar Ranković Leka
Александар Ранковић Лека
Minister of the Internal Affairs of Yugoslavia

In office
January 1946 – July 1966
President Josip Broz Tito
Preceded by Office established
Chief of OZNA

In office
13 May 1944 – March 1946
Vice President of the People's Assembly of the PR Serbia

In office
November 1944 – January 1946
Personal details
Born (1909-11-28)28 November 1909
Draževac, Obrenovac, Kingdom of Serbia
Died 20 August 1983(1983-08-20) (aged 73)
Dubrovnik, Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Resting place Belgrade, Serbia
Nationality Serb
Political party Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Spouse(s) Anđa Ranković
Occupation Politician, soldier, worker
Military service
Nickname(s) Marko, Leka
Allegiance  Yugoslavia
Service/branch Yugoslav Partisans
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank Colonel General
Battles/wars World War II
Awards People's Hero of Yugoslavia
Order of the Hero of Socialist Labour
Order of the People's Liberation

Aleksandar Ranković "Leka" (Serbian Cyrillic language: Александар Ранковић Лека

1909–1983) was a Yugoslav communist politician of Serbian origin considered to be the third most powerful man in Yugoslavia after Josip Broz Tito and Edvard Kardelj.[1] Ranković was a proponent of a centralized Yugoslavia and opposed efforts that promoted decentralization that he deemed to be against the interests of Serb unity;[2] he ran Kosovo as a police state[3] and made Serbs dominant in Kosovo's nomenklatura.[2] Ranković supported a hardline approach against Albanians in Kosovo who were commonly suspected of pursuing seditious activities.[4][5]

The popularity of Ranković's nationalistic policies in Serbia became apparent at Ranković's funeral in Serbia in 1983 where large numbers of people attended the funeral and many considered Ranković a Serbian "national" leader.[6] Ranković's policies have been perceived as the basis of the Serbian nationalist agenda of Slobodan Milošević.[6]

Early life

Ranković was born in the village of Draževac near Obrenovac in the Kingdom of Serbia. Born into a poor family, Ranković lost his father at a young age. He attended high school in his hometown. As with many poor children, he went to Belgrade to work. Hard living conditions influenced him to join the workers' movement. He was also influenced by his colleagues who, at the time when the Communist Party was banned, brought communist magazines and literature with them, which were read by Ranković. At 15 he joined the union. In 1927 he met his future wife Anđa, and year later he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Soon he was named Secretary-General of the League of Communists of Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ) in Belgrade.

Pre-war activity

In 1928 when he become member of the Communist Party, Ranković was named Secretary of the Regional Committee of the SKOJ of Serbia. The January 6th Dictatorship didn't influence his political activity. As leader of the Regional Committee of SKOJ he published a flyer which was distributed in Belgrade and Zemun. During the time when flyers were being printed, one of his associates was arrested and soon Ranković was discovered by the police. He was captured in Belgrade in an illegal apartment.

Ranković's trial was one of the first trials after the declaration of King Alexander's dictatorship. He was sentenced for 6 years and he spent his punishment in prisons in Sremska Mitrovica and Lepoglava. During his imprisonment he spread communist agenda among younger prisoners. In prison, he organized attacks on the police by political prisoners.

He was released at the beginning of 1935 and after the release he was enlisted to the army. After the military service he worked for the workers' movement in Belgrade. Through the unions he revived activity of the Communist Party. In 1936 he become member of the Regional Committee of Serbia and in 1937 member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In January 1939 he started to act illegally under codename "Marko". In May 1939 Ranković participated in the consultations of communists of Yugoslavia in Drava Banovina in Šmarna Gora, and later he participated on the 5th Conference of KPJ held in Zagreb.

Later career

Ranković was a member of the Politburo from 1940. After he was captured and tortured by the German Gestapo in 1941, he was rescued in a daring raid by Yugoslav Partisans. Ranković served on the Supreme Staff throughout the war. He was named a "People's Hero" for his services during World War II.

After the war, he became minister of the interior and head of the military intelligence OZNA and secret police UDBA. He fell from power in 1966, ostensibly for abusing his authority by bugging the sleeping quarters of President Josip Broz Tito. He was expelled from the Communist Party of Yugoslavia the same year.

His fall from power marked the beginning of the end of a centralized power structure of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia over the country and the social and political separatist and autonomist movements that would culminate in the Croatian Spring and the newly de-centralized Yugoslavia that emerged from the 1971 constitutional reforms and later the 1974 Constitution.[7]

Ranković's grave in Belgrade

Ranković spent his remaining years in a political exile of sorts in Dubrovnik until his death in 1983. He was buried in Belgrade with some 30,000 Serbs spontaneously showing up for his funeral at the Belgrade's New Cemetery despite the event being ignored by the tightly-controlled media in the country. By the time of his death Ranković had come to symbolize Serbian political and national interests as well as to embody what many Serbs at the time saw to be their republic's weakened position within communist Yugoslavia.


  1. Aleksandar Rankovic - Political Profile of A Yugoslav "Stalinist"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Melissa Katherine Bokovoy, Jill A. Irvine, Carol S. Lilly. State-society relations in Yugoslavia, 1945–1992. Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997. Pp. 295.
  3. Judah. The Serbs. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15826-7. 
  4. Independent International Commission on Kosovo. The Kosovo report: conflict, international response, lessons learned. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp. 35.
  5. Judah, Tim (2008). Kosovo : what everyone needs to know. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-0-19-537345-5. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lenard J. Cohen. Serpent in the bosom: the rise and fall of Slobodan Milošević. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press, 2002. Pp. 98.
  7. Yugoslavia: The Specter of Separatism
  • Doder, Duško; Branson, Louise (1999). Milosevic: Portrait of a Tyrant. Free Press. ISBN 0-684-84308-0. 
  • Miller, Nick (2007). The Nonconformists: Culture, Politics, and Nationalism in a Serbian Intellectual Circle, 1944–1991. Central European University Press. ISBN 978-963-7326-93-6. 

See also

  • OZNA
  • UDBA

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