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News 18 May 11

Montenegro: Unfinished Monument to Communism a Death Trap

Thirty years after construction began on the House of Revolution in Niksic, it remains an unfinished and deadly trap in the centre of the city.

Drazen Remikovic

While the building, destined to serve as a monument to Yugoslav Communism, has sat unfinished for years, its watery basements and corridors have claimed the lives of 13 people.

The latest victims were Mica Jevtovic, 28, and Savo Cuzovic, 54, whose lifeless bodies were found by police on Saturday in water that was ten metres deep.

“Their families reported them missing about three months before we found the bodies. The investigation will determine whether this is a case of suicide or violent death,” the police told Balkan Insight.

The construction of the House of Revolution was launched during Communist rule in ex Yugoslavia and was supposed to represent the finest monument to Yugoslav communism. However, as its construction was never completed, the building's underground passageways and basement areas have filled with sewage and rain water and the building has become dangerous, residents and civil society groups say.

The citizens of Niksic call the property the “death house” because of the lives lost there, and believe that it should be demolished.

Niksic resident Davor Cupic says that the building has been “the biggest mockery” of the city for years, and that is a shame for the whole country that even after 30 years officials have not been able to find a solution to this pressing problem.

"I live 500 metres from this place, and believe me, that every time I pass by this building it makes me sick. In recent years, the building has become a gathering place for drunks and drug addicts, and besides that people die here; this building is the source of infection," Cupic told Balkan Insight.

Aleksandar Perovic, Executive Director of the NGO "Ozon" from Niksic, which deals with the protection of the environment, told Balkan Insight that this building has represented a danger to people's lives for many years.

"We have repeatedly warned the municipal authorities that the building is dangerous but so far no one has reacted to this," says Perovic.

He emphasised that in addition to the danger the building poses to human lives, there is a makeshift rubbish dump on the property which endangers the environment and there is no protective fence around the building. Perovic says that his organisation asked authorities to remove the dump, but this has not been done.

The municipal authorities, for their part, say that they are planning to renovate the House of Revolution and that its reconstruction will require some 50 million euros.

"On this property we will build a Centre of Contemporary Art of Montenegro, theater halls, and so on,” the mayor of Niksic, Nebojsa Radojicic, told Balkan Insight.

However, the municipality could not specify when the renovation might be completed.

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