Serbian pop singer popular in Balkans dies of coronavirus

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Djordje Balasevic, a Serbian singer who remained widely popular throughout the former Yugoslavia after the wars of the 1990s, has died after contracting the new coronavirus, state television reported Friday. He was 66.

Balasevic was admitted to a hospital in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad three days ago suffering from pneumonia that appeared to be a complication of COVID-19. State broadcaster RTS said he died at the hospital on Friday.

Balasevic launched his career in the early 1980s, first performing in bands before establishing a solo following with his soft pop music and witty lyrics.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated in ethnic warfare in the early 1990s, Balasevic openly opposed the nationalism that fueled the conflicts. Because of his positions, mainstream media in Serbia shunned Balasevic during the war era.

But he remained well-liked throughout the ethnically divided Balkans region after the wars, filling up concert halls in all the countries that emerged from the six former Yugoslav republics.

Media in Croatia and Bosnia promptly carried the news of Balasevic’s death, which also was widely shared on social networks. Croatia's state HRT television evoked Balasevic's “utterly antiwar and pacifist position that is present in many songs, concert speeches and interviews.”

Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

The Associated Press