Though outgoing Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica likes to describe himself as a "legalist," he has made dubious moves, on the verge of the law, to secure his reign since 2004. ( dpa )
Kostunica said Saturday he was resigning and accused his pro- European coalition partners of abandoning the fight to keep the breakaway province Kosovo Serbian.
His cabinet has pushed through murky privatization deals, reached for flexible voting to pas the new constitution and collaborated with the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists.
During the past four years and two mandates of Kostunica, 63, many of Milosevic's people have waded back to the corridors of power.
Then largely obscure, Kostunica was chosen in 2000 by a broad anti-Milosevic front to defeat the strongman in elections.
Yet last May he shattered the taboo of cooperation with the former deadly regime's elements to back the ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic as parliament speaker.
Rigid in appearance and no fan of the media, he has effectively held the reins ever since the assassination of his pro-Western reformist rival and political antipode, premier Zoran Djindjic, five years ago.
The feat was achieved through the perpetual threat of collaboration with Nikolic's belligerent Serbian Radical Party, seen by the West as the blackest force in Serbia.
Ironically, Kostunica and his Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) today clearly regard Djindjic, who effectively propelled him to power, as more damaging to Serbia then the Milosevic clique.
Amongst other things, he never forgave Djindjic for the surrender of Milosevic to a UN war crimes tribunal in 2001.
As the showdown over Kosovo, which declared independence in February, approached over the past two years, Kostunica has grown increasingly anti-Western and pro-Russian - the West backed Kosovo while Russia has blocked its promotion to independence in the United Nations.
During that time, he has accused the international community of "blackmailing" Serbia by demanding that it arrest war crime suspects or abandon Kosovo in return for its European integration.
One of the founders of Djindjic's Democratic Party in 1989, Kostunica just three years later formed the more nationally aware DSS. After a brief cohabitation following Milosevic's fall, Djindjic and Kostunica parted ways and DS and DSS have since been uneasy partners at best.
Djindjic's close associates even blame Kostunica for being at least indirectly involved in Djindjic's assassination on March 12, 2003.
Kostunica was awarded a PhD in constitutional law in 1974. He was banned from Belgrade University after criticizing Communists, then ruling Yugoslavia, and for undermining Serbian national interests. Before entering politics, he worked in a small institute for political pluralism.