Monday, December 12, 2005

I Predict A Riot?

Or so sang Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, whose breakthrough songtitle is likely to be the Gazette's most overused cliché of December if things go on this way.

Yakima Gulag and Balkan Baby in particular are covering events in much more depth than the Gazette has time to right now, but the weekend's big Gotovina news is that an estimated 40,000 people took to the Riva in Split on Sunday for a pro-Gotovina rally.

That's still no match for the 100,000 who supported Mirko Norac there in 2001, and oddly enough, one personality who wasn't there this time was Marko Perković Thompson, whose songs have frequently supported Croatian war crimes indictees and who reserved two empty seats at his 2002 concerts for Gotovina and Mirko Norac. In his own words:

'Today I feel like crying, not singing. We'll sing when Gotovina comes back from The Hague. Then we'll have a big party on the Riva and in Zagreb too, we'll sing and celebrate.'

His absence will be news to Željko Strize, a local official from the disabled veterans' group Hvidra, who confidently predicted that Sunday's Split rally would feature not only Thompson but his kum Mate Bulić, Klapa Intrade from Gotovina-worshipping Zadar, and Niko 'Ante, Ante, svi smo za te' Bete. Not to worry: the musical programme suggests he was still there in spirit.

Sunday's Zagreb demo seems to have kept 'more policemen than protesters' occupied, according to Novi list. The historical-mythic placards reading 'Zrinski, Frankopan, Gotovina' and 'Rise up, Franjo [Tudjman], Croatia's calling you' are quite fascinating, though.

Meanwhile, Večernji list reports that pupils at Zagreb secondary schools, where they can play CDs over the PA system during breaks, have been narrowcasting patriotic songs by Thompson and Miroslav Škoro since Gotovina's arrest. According to one headmistress, Milica Medak:

'If playing Thompson songs is also connected with the arrest of General Gotovina, then students have the right to express their attitudes through the choice of music. To me, it's important that there were no incidents or fights..'

Which is all very well, but with the breaktime soundtrack including Thompson's rousing Homeland War hit Bojna Čavoglave, any students with the temporary misfortune to be Serb, left-wing, gay, and so on might be forgiven for keeping a low profile this week.

This is the same educational system criticised on Sunday by president Stipe Mesić after reports that pupils in Zadar schools were wearing Ustaša caps in support of Gotovina, despite the fact that their home town was better known under the Ustaša regime as Italian-occupied Zara:

'Nothing can be resolved on the street, and even less so with Ustaša insignia. Those students do not know what those symbols represent. They don't know where Zadar was during the Ustaša collaborationist regime of Ante Pavelić. Because if they knew, it would be clear to them that one can't give support to Gotovina with Ustaša caps.'

Or by putting a brick through the window of the SDP's office in Zadar and burning an EU flag, but that hasn't stopped Zadar's local chavs doing precisely that.

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