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25 Feb 11

Police, Anti-Government Protesters Clash in Zagreb

Police and anti-government protesters clashed in central Zagreb on Thursday night, where some 800 demonstrators gathered to rally against the country's leaders.

Daily.tportal.hr, Radio.net

Protesters in Zagreb February 2011Police used tear gas and batons to push back protesters, some of whom threw bottles, rocks and fireworks as they attempted to reach Zagreb's main Saint Mark's Square. Reports said that 11 were arrested, including the protest organiser.

Protesters rallied in the streets leading to the main square, where the government and parliament are headquartered, but were pushed back because rallies in the square have been banned since 2005.

The rally was organised on the social networking site Facebook by the Alliance for Change, who demanded that Jandranka Kosor step down as prime minister and president of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ.

Anti-government rallies were also held in the southern Adriatic city of Split, in the northern Adriatic city of Pula, where about 500 people rallied, in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka, which drew about 100 people, and in the eastern city of Slavonski Brod, where about 200 people gathered.

Ivan Pernar, who initiated the Zagreb protest on Facebook, said the constitution guaranteed him the right to peacefully protest everywhere. He told Kosor to "step down in peace", as in that case the "punishment will be lesser", and that she would "follow in the footsteps of her predecessor Ivo Sanader." He also said the "police vans and batons tyranny" must stop.

Pernar was apprehended after he crossed a protection barrier.

The demonstrators carried banners and shouted "You are scared of the people", "Bribery and corruption - the Croatian police", "Better to die than be a slave", "Jadranka, go away" and "You betrayed Purda", a reference to Croatian war veteran Tihomir Purda, who is in custody in Bosnia awaiting extradition to Serbia on suspicion of war crimes.

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