news 17 Jul 17

Montenegro Vows to Remove Memorial to Assassin

The Montenegrin authorities have vowed to remove a controversial monument to Punisa Racic - the Serb nationalist MP who assassinated Croatian leader Stjepan Radic in the Yugoslav parliament in 1928.

Dusica Tomovic
Racic(left) killed Stjepan Radic, the founder of the Croatian People's Peasant Party. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Montenegrin officials have ordered the Municipality of Andrijevica to remove a monument erected to Punisa Racic, the man who assassinated Croatian leader Stjepan Radic in the Yugoslav parliament in 1928 - paving the way for the collapse of parliamentary democracy in Yugoslavia shortly afterwards [the King soon declared a dictatorship].

However, Racic's descendants say that the monument was built on private property and that the family will do everything to prevent its removal.

Racic, a Serb from Montenegro, and a deputy in the parliament, shot dead a total of three Croatian deputies in the parliament in 1928 and was jailed for 14 years.

Apart from bringing down the parliamentary system in Yugoslavia, Radic's death also assissted the rise in Croatia of the extreme nationalist and Fascist Ustasa movement.

After the plaque was installed last Wednesday in his birth place of Slatina, a village in northern Montenegro, both the Montenegrin and Croatian governments condemned the decision.

The Croatian National Council in Montenegro, which represents the small Croatian community in the country, noted: “Croats remember Punis Racic only for his bad deeds."

The Croatian Foreign Ministry handed Montenegro’s Ambassador in Zagreb, Boro Vucinic, a protest letter, saying it expected the relevant Montenegrin institutions to distance themselves from this act in the spirit of good neighbourly relations.

The government in Podgorica reacted promptly, calling the unveiling of the commemorative monument a “retrograde individual act.“

The plaque “glorifies the character and work of the assassin of King Nikola and the killer of Croatian deputies in the then National Assembly of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia", and was erected "without the knowledge of the government and state authorities of Montenegro," the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry said.

[Racic was involved earlier on in his life in a failed attempt to assassinate King Nikola of Montenegro.]

However, Racic's relatives and several smaller associations of Serbs in Montenegro said over the weekend that they will not allow the monument to be taken down, claiming that the local authorities were aware of the plan and did not stop it.

“We will stand by the protection of the commemorative monument because we think that every man should have a grave. Moreover, it was built on a private property. After all, nobody warned us that we did not do this, although the authorities were aware that the action is in progress,“ local media quoted Miroslav Dukic, from the organisational committee, as saying.

The Vaso association, which also supported the building of the monument, called the government's vow to remove it “hypocritical“ because it did not send a similar protest note to Croatia over the inauguration of a monument to Miro Baresic, who killed Yugoslav ambassador Vladimir Rolovic in 1971 in Sweden.

A memorial to Baresic, who died fighting in the Croatian war for independence 20 years later, was inaugurated in Croatia in last August.

“The erection of Baresic's monument was welcomed by the Croatian National Council in Montenegro," the organisation complained.

Until he was shot dead, Radic was the co-founder and leader of the Croatian Peasants Party and his combative stance towards the authorities of the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia had long infuriated hard-line Serbian nationalists.

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