As the 1960s progressed, Rankovic was being considered a likely successor to Tito. However, he was impatient. He suspected conspiracy against himself everywhere. He instructed the secret police to listen in on the telephone conversations not only of his suspected enemies, but also of his alleged friends. Eventually, Rankovic went too far. His men wired Tito's quarters and tape recorded the dictator's personal conversations. When these were discovered, Rankovic was expelled from all his positions in the party and the government in 1966. He was even expelled from the League of Yugoslav Communists the following year.
Auty Phyllis, Tito: A Biography ( London, 1970); Avakumovic Ivan, History of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia ( Aberdeen, England, 1964); Vucinich Vayne, ed., Contemporary Yugoslavia ( Berkeley, CA, 1969).
Religious Policies in Communist Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe, including even Czechoslovakia and Hungary, religion has been closely identified with national culture. To be a Serb means to be Orthodox Christian; to be a Roman Catholic is to be a Croatian or a Slovene. Islam is the religion of large number of Slavs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albanians are also identified with the Islamic religion. The problem of religion in Macedonia is more complex because, although the population is largely Orthodox Christian, a separate Macedonian ethnicity has always been questionable.
The policies of the Yugoslav government toward the Orthodox church have always been cautious. The Communist party of Yugoslavia, especially after 1948, based its policies on safeguarding Yugoslav state interests. The party's official standpoint toward religion in general was based on atheism. Nevertheless, open conflict with the Orthodox hierarchy was avoided, in spite of the obvious resentment of the party leaders of the influence of the church in Serbia. Since the communists claimed to act in the interests of Yugoslavia as a whole, the Orthodox church leaders were often rebuked for their alleged nationalism.
The hierarchy never repudiated the charge. For instance, in Montenegro, the church always insisted that there was no separate Montenegrine nationality, but the inhabitants were actually Serbs. Nor did the hierarchy budge from its assertion that Macedonians were "southern Slavs" and not a separate nation. They always spoke out in support of Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo, basing their claims on historical and national "rights." The church's nationalism was clearly exhibited in the case of the independent patriarchate of Macedonia, and its hierarchy came into open conflict with the communist federal authorities.
Macedonian national consciousness emerged late in the nineteenth century. Until 1918, the Macedonian Orthodox church was administratively subordinate to the patriarch of Bulgaria. However, his jurisdiction ended with the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes in 1918. In 1945, however, the council of Macedonian Orthodox church leaders met in Skopje and declared their church to be