Rudolf Perešin MiG-21 Put on Display Outside Defence Ministry

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 12, 2019 – A ceremony was held outside the Defence Ministry building in Zagreb on Sunday to formally mark the return of a MiG-21 fighter jet with which Croatian pilot Rudolf Perešin defected from the Yugoslav Air Force in October 1991.

Perešin flew the plane from a Yugoslav Air Force base near the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihać to Klagenfurt, Austria, which was seen as an act of moral victory at the start of Serbian military aggression against Croatia in 1991. The plane was returned to Zagreb earlier this month and will remain on display outside the Defence Ministry until the end of May, after which it will be relocated to the Croatian Air Force base at Pleso.

Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the plane was one of the main symbols of the 1991-1995 Homeland War, adding that its return after 28 years of quiet diplomacy and government efforts was a mark of honour to all Croatian veterans and their families.

“The story of Rudolf Perešin and this plane is a story of freedom. It must remain with us forever. The message Rudolf Perešin sent in October 1991 to Croatian defenders, the entire Croatian nation and the entire world, is a message of freedom, courage, strength, boldness and patriotism. That message is again with us here today,” the prime minister said.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said: “This plane is a living piece of history and a symbol of the start of the Croatian Army and the Croatian Air Force, a symbol of victory, resistance against aggression and the fight of the Croatian nation for its independence. Its return is of an immeasurable value to our country.”

Rudolf Perešin decided to leave the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) on 25 October 1991, undertaking a risky flight from Bihac to Klagenfurt. He was later quoted by media as saying: “I am Croatian, I cannot and won’t shoot at Croatians.”

Perešin was killed on 2 May 1995 during Operation Flash in the Western Slavonia region when his MiG was shot down by Serb anti-aircraft artillery. His remains were found only two and a half years later, and he was given a formal burial at Zagreb’s Mirogoj Cemetery in 1997.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.


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