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Cablegate: Thompson Tones Down Act, Police Manage Crowd

VZCZCXYZ0012
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVB #0730 2131550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011550Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7987

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000730

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL HR HUMAN RIGHTS
SUBJECT: THOMPSON TONES DOWN ACT, POLICE MANAGE CROWD

REF: ZAGREB 623

(U) Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: At the July 27 concert of nationalist
pop star Marko Perkovic (aka - "Thompson") in Split's Stari Plac
Stadium, police and Perkovic himself succeeded in preventing the
displays of Ustashe symbols and salutes that marred his performance
in Zagreb 10 days earlier (reftel). Perkovic seemed on his best
behavior, going so far as to instruct his fans to refrain from using
the Nazi salute but not hesitating to dish out attacks against his
critics. Thorough police searches at stadium entrances kept out
banned symbols, so Perkovic's young fans experienced a conservative
concert focused on family values and reverence to God, expressions
of national pride, and songs celebrating the 1995 victory in
Croatia's war of independence. While many of his supporters
gravitate toward the far right of the political spectrum, the
minority who use banned WWII symbols clearly represent misdirected
youth -- perhaps in compensation for having been too young to have
served in the war -- rather than the makings of a neo-fascist
movement. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

EMBASSY EYES ON CONCERT FANS, SAFEGUARDS
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) After criticism of Perkovic's Zagreb concert, Post decided
to send a summer intern and Pol FSN to the Split concert to gauge
the political significance of Perkovic and his right-wing fans while
evaluating government efforts to control the display of illegal
symbols of Croatia's WWII pro-Nazi Ustashe movement. As he had in
Zagreb, Perkovic refrained from unacceptable slogans or salutes,
telling the crowd to do the same. Instead, without using names, he
used the concert to fire back at his detractors (namely various
anti-fascist associations, Jewish community leaders and the Simon
Wiesenthal Center), claiming they knew little about his band and
Croatia and that it would be best if they would just leave him
alone.

3. (SBU) Unlike the concert in Zagreb, the attendees in Split,
mostly aged 15-30, were inspected by security and police, who
confiscated banned symbols and paraphernalia. The result was a
crowd virtually free of illegal symbols but rich in Croatian flags,
banners, and t-shirts featuring either Thompson or Hague-indictee
Ante Gotovina. The concert proved not to be radical in nature, but
it was decidedly right wing, with songs celebrating military
victories in the Homeland War mixed with themes of religion,
patriotism and criticism of liberal politics.

4. (SBU) Recently Perkovic has begun to slowly distance himself from
his radical past. He has stopped performing certain highly
inflammatory songs and toned down his rhetoric, but he has yet to
publicly condemn Croatia's WWII government or fully acknowledge its
war crimes.

BRADTKE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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