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New Monument to Critical Croatian Journalist Targeted by Vandals

A monument in the city of Split honouring journalist Miljenko Smoje, a renowned critic of the Croatian authorities from the Yugoslav period to the 1990s war, has been targeted twice by suspected right-wing nationalists.

The new monument commemorating prominent Croatian journalist Miljenko Smoje, unveiled last month in the port city of Split, has been attacked twice, doused with blue paint and then urinated upon.

In the first incident, unknown vandals hung a Partizan Belgrade football club scarf around the statue’s neck, probably alluding to the fact that he was never a Croatian nationalist.

However, as well as being a renowned chronicler of the life of Split and smaller Dalmatian towns, Smoja was an enthusiastic supporter of local football club Hajduk Split, to which he dedicated his cult TV series ‘Velo Misto’ (‘Big Town’), which is still popular across the former Yugoslavia.

The second incident was filmed and the video of the unknown assailant urinating on the monument, while using derogatory language and telling Smoje that he was a Serb, was circulated on social media.

Employees of the city utility company immediately cleaned up the monument after the incidents.

Split Police confirmed that they have received a complaint about the vandalism of the monument and will conduct an investigation.

Criticising the vandalism of the monument, Split city councillor Damir Barbir posted an old quote on Facebook from an interview that Smoje gave in 1985.

“We always look for some kind of explanations and justifications, and that’s unemployed youth, and primitivism, and what do I know… It could be that there’s also that. But something else is important. It doesn’t worry me when ten drunk, crazy young men go around making noise and shouting. It worries me, however, if what they shout is heard by a thousand of them and nobody reacts,” Smoje said.

“Forty years later, the same words are applicable,” Barbir wrote.

The unveiling of the monument drew an enthusiastic crowd to a ceremony in Split last month, attended by admirers of Smoje, a committed anti-fascist and leftist.

The unveiling was the central event of the city’s celebration of 2023 as the ‘Year of Miljenko Smoje’, which includes about 100 performances, exhibitions and other events.

For most of his career, Smoje worked for the Split daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, but when it was taken over by tycoon Miroslav Kutle in a controversial privatisation, he moved to the satirical political weekly Feral Tribune.

In the nineties, Feral Tribune was one of the few independent media outlets in Croatia and reported critically about authoritarian President Franjo Tudjman and the Croatian Democratic Union party, which was in power at the time.

Source : Balkan Insight