News 23 Oct 17

Monument to Murdered Serbian PM Djindjic Sparks Row

The Belgrade city authorities’ plan to install a monument commemorating Serbia’s former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, assassinated in 2003, has angered government opponents.

Filip Rudic

The monument's designer and city officials with the model of Djindjic's memorial. Photo: Beoinfo

The decision by the city, which is run by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, to erect a monument to assassinated former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was the main political adversary of the country’s current rulers until he was assassinated by an organised crime gang in 2003, has angered critics who accused the authorities of hypocrisy.

“Can the late prime minister’s wife and children stop this disaster [from happening]?” said the most-liked comment on Facebook to the news on Saturday announcing the installation of the Djindjic memorial on March 12 next year, the 15th anniversary of his death.

“I cannot believe they are erecting him a monument!” said another commentator. “Everybody who mourned his killing hated him while he was alive.”

The monument in the shape of a broken arrow, said to symbolise Djindjic’s devotion to Serbia’s progress as well as commemorating his untimely death, was selected from 40 proposed works.

“The city [authorities] wanted a monument that is not classical, but modern, just like Djindjic’s life was,” city manager Goran Vesic told Serbian national broadcaster RTS.

However, some said that the current authorities, led by President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party, have no right to claim Djindjic’s legacy because they were bitter enemies during the 1990s.

“This is a textbook example of cynicism,” said one commentator online.

“The arrow curves and changes direction, probably because Djindjic is spinning in his grave,” complained a Twitter user.

Others commented on the design of the proposed monument, saying it was inappropriate, with some calling for a classic statue to be erected instead.

“Somebody is trying to mock Djindjic. This is a traffic signal. It is a mockery to erect this as a monument to a man who was murdered,” said Janko Veselinovic, an MP and former member of Djindjic’s Democratic Party.

City manager Vesic said that building the monument was President Vucic’s idea.

“Vucic and Djindjic were not politically like-minded, but Vucic proposed building him a monument. It is important for our society,” Vesic told RTS.

A lot of the criticism focused on Vucic’s attitude towards Djindjic when the current president was a member of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party.

Vucic once publicly glued posters with the name of Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic, who is on trial for war crimes and genocide, over street signs marking Zoran Djindjic Boulevard in Belgrade.

Djindjic was shot dead in front of the government office building in Belgrade on March 12, 2003, by Zvezdan Jovanovic, a member of the criminal ‘Zemun Clan’.

Jovanovic was jailed for 40 years in May 2007 for the murder.

Several others, including Milorad Ulemek, also known as Legija, a former commander of the Serbian interior ministry’s Special Operations Unit, were also jailed.

The judge said that Ulemek organised the killing while Jovanovic pulled the trigger.

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