It was run then by a man named Slobodan Milosevic.
While visiting Novi Sad, the second largest city in that former country, I took a long cab ride with a guy named Milorad.
The city had suffered significant NATO bomb damage months earlier -- bridges destroyed, the TV station knocked out.
Milo told me what is was like living under the Milosevic regime.
"That is what it is like here."
I wish I could say I had difficulty imagining that. We drove up a bluff southwest of Novi Sad, overlooking the city. He wanted to show me the destroyed TV station.
We got there and my jaw dropped.
A huge office building, gutted, the HUGE broadcast tower toppled, twisted.
I got out and prepared to take a photo.
Suddenly, Milo yelled at me.
I turned around and saw two burly men approaching in uniform.
The security guards politely escorted us back to their pill-box outpost.
After a few phone calls, I was given the name of an Interior Ministry official from whom I would need permission to take photos of the destroyed TV station.
I retrieved my passport and press credentials from the guards, and we drove on.
It struck me as odd to have to have government permission to take a photo.
Milo told me he once studied history at the university in Novi Sad.
"I don't hate anyone because they are a different color or different religion. We are all just people. Besides," he said, "I am not what they call a 'clean Serb' -- My mother was a Croat, so it is difficult for me to be told I must hate someone just ecause they have a different heritage."
Despite the hardships Milo was enduring under the Milosevic regime -- which was subject to U.N. sanctions at that time -- he remained optimistic.
The regime's bankrupt policies were crumbling.
He could see a post-Milosevic era on the horizon.
I visited Serbia a couple years ago, and the difference was indeed remarkable.
Milo and people like him finally broke the hold of the extreme Serb nationalists.
Not that the political struggle there is over. It is NEVER over.
So, I offer this as an alternative cabbie story.
The moral of this story is DON'T RUN AWAY!
Confront dictators! Build a people-power movement. I was a bit concerned about the cabbie stories posted by Maccabee that seemed to suggest it is all hopeless, it is worse than a dictatorship, RUN AWAY!!!! I won't run! I am going to stay and fight!