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article imageReturn of Tito statue not 'Yugo-nostalgia'

By AFP     Dec 19, 2018 in World

Montenegro on Wednesday unveiled a statue of communist leader Josip Broz Tito, reversing a trend in parts of the former Yugoslavia towards airbrushing him out of public spaces.

The bronze statue was placed in a city centre park having previously languished at a Podgorica army barracks, but city leaders denied it was driven by nostalgia for life under communism.

"We are doing this as a sign of respect for all that this great figure in world history did for our country," mayor Ivan Vukovic said at an unveiling ceremony.

The monument was a celebration of "anti-fascism" that was being erected "without feelings of either Yugo-nostalgia or any kind of idolatry", he said.

Many former Yugoslav republics renamed streets or squares bearing his name in the 1990s following the break-up of the federation in a series of bloody wars. Photographs, monuments and other artwork linked to him were also moved out of the public eye.

Montenegro even changed its capital's name from Titograd (Tito city) to Podgorica.

Tito, who died in 1980, continues to divide public opinion in the countries that emerged after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

While he is still worshipped by some for liberating the region from Nazi-allied powers, others have branded him a dictator.

Last year in Croatia, authorities stripped Tito's name from a prominent square in the capital Zagreb.

Conservative President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has also pledged to remove a bust of the leader and scores of Tito-linked artefacts and artworks from her official residence.

Devotion to Tito, however, remains strong across much of Bosnia, which still has streets and monuments in his honour.

"We made a mistake by renaming Titograd Podgorica in the early 1990s," said Dusan Rasovic, a 60-year-old economist.

"He is a symbol of times when we lived better, without worries, with a sense of pride, dignity and value".


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