ZAGREB, Aug 5, 2020 – Several hundred HOS veterans, including those wearing T-shirts with the inscription “For the Homeland Ready” and those shouting this Ustasha salute, were barred entry into the main square in Knin during a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm on Wednesday but were allowed in afterward.
A spokeswoman for the Sibenik-Knin County Police Marica Kosor told Hina that several hundred veterans of the Croatian Defence Force (HOS), the wartime armed wing of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), and other units whom the police did not allow to enter Ante Starcevic Square, sang patriotic songs for the duration of the official programme, unhappy that they were denied entry.
Several shouts of “For the Homeland Ready”, a salute used by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during the Second World War, could be heard, and some wore T-shirts displaying inappropriate content, the police spokeswoman said.
Asked why the veterans were not allowed into the square to watch the programme, Kosor said that they did not have accreditation and the venue could take only about 600 guests because of the epidemiological measures in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
No incidents were reported.
Mladen Todoric, head of a veterans association from Split, told reporters earlier that they had liberated Knin in 1995 and “now there is no room for us, while there is room for Milosevic and the likes of him, apparently because of the coronavirus.”
He expressed regret that “our police colleagues have been put in an awkward situation, with them on one side of the barricade and us on the other.”
“We hope that this will never happen again, that veterans are barred entry into the square in Knin to pay tribute to their fallen comrades in arms and to celebrate our victory,” Todoric said, adding that after the official programme “we will pay our respects and light candles.”
Media said that among the HOS veterans was MP Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereignists party.