Sunday, November 21, 2004

Another Work of Art

Some see tattoos as the work of art, some see it as a testament to certain people's stupidity, while others see it as an excellent way to re-enflame old conflicts and score political points. Serbian basketball player Milan Gurović (Milan Gurovic) and his decision to express admiration to WW2 Chetnik leader on his skin has given excellent ammunition to all those who don't like apparent improvement of relations between Croatia and Serbia.

Croatian decision to ban Gurović from entering Croatia has created outrage in Serbia where large sections of public view Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović (Dragoljub "Draza" Mihailovic) as some sort of hero and anti-Communist martyr. Some of them decided to express their outrage through very direct action. Three young Serbo-Montenegrin citizens have come to Jelačić (Jelacic) Square in the middle of Zagreb and photographed themselves carrying Mihailović pictures under the Jelačić monument.

Three of them were arrested and brought to Croatian magistrate. One of them, 25-year old architecture student Svetozar Vranešević (Svetozar Vranesevic) explained that his action was "the work of art", that he didn't know "anything about Mihailović" and that the purpose of his stunt was to shoot some material for "short documentary film about Gurović affair". Unlike Commerce Court in Severina case, such artistic arguments weren't accepted and magistrate, despite apologies, decided to give 25 days of prison to Vranešević and 5 days of prison to his partner 24-year old Mirjana Đerković (Mirjana Djerkovic). Third member of the group, 24-year old Danja Božanić (Danja Bozanic) was acquitted.

Despite the rapid and drastic action of Croatian authorities, this incident already managed to push local nationalist vandals into action. A van with Serb-Montenegrin licence plates was torched in Zagreb, apparently as retaliation for Jelačić Square stunt.

I don't think that prison sentences are going to help, though. Belgrade students showed utter disrespect for the country in which they were hosted and the political views they tried to express through this actions are questionable, to say the least. However, they should be admired for their willingness to express those views in the most dangerous way possible. Prison sentence is only going to turn them into martyrs and give more undeserved attention to this whole sad affair.

And, after all, they apologised. Even if their apology wasn't sincere, at least it shows some common sense that evaded those who tried to make some political point on their skin.


Vranešević got 15, not 25 days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet this guy just tried to show off in front of his buddies in Belgrade, after having done something extremely brave (and equally stupid for his age of 25). His "work of art" excuse was pathetic.

He should be thankful to Croatian police for swift action that saved his ass - similar act in Belgrade would probably finish with more serious consequences.

I went to Rijeka few weeks ago and had very nice weekend there. Now, I would think twice if I had to travel with my car again... I wonder if we are ever going to leave 20th century behind us. :(

Novi Sad, Serbia

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this comes wery close to a joke that used to be popular in Croatia:

"What's thakes courage?
-climbing on top of the jelacic monument and shouting THIS IS SERBIA!
And what takes even more courage?
-Comming back down from the monument!"

They were very lucky to not run into the same lot that beat up a NK Dinamo Zg. footballer after a 4:2 defeat form Rijeka. Oh what a beautifull game that was!
As for the van torching, i'm disgusted!
I still think that the majoritiy of us are normal people willing to let go of the past. Unfortunatly, the troublemakers although a minority are much "louder"!

I'm from Rijeka, one of the moast tolerant parts of Croatia and i've seen quite a few cars with serbian plates over here, so i think it's safe!:)
Hope to visit Belgrade soon!

4:23 PM  

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