Thousands of Croatians rally against Tito Square

Some 2,000 people rallied in Zagreb's Marshal Tito square Saturday, AFP reported.

Source: AFP
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The protesters demanded it be stripped of its association with the former Yugoslav leader and renamed Theater Square.

They carrying candles and dressed in red aprons bearing the slogan "Crime is a Crime" walked in a circle around the square, one of the main ones in the centre of Zagreb, with some chanting "Tito, a criminal."

Organizer Josip Jurčević said Tito was responsible for "mass killings, tortures, prosecutions and forbidding of pluralism."

Josip Broz, a.k.a. Tito, an ethnic Croat himself, who ruled Yugoslavia from 1944 to his death in 1980, is described by the agency as "a controversial figure in Croatia - adored by those nostalgic of communist times while seen as a dictator by other."

Some 200 supporters of Tito, congregated opposite the square at a counter-rally organized by an anti-fascist association.

They held a banner that read "Fascism? No Thank You" next to a photo of Tito.

Police, who prevented the two groups from coming into contact with each other, said four people had been detained for public order offences.

Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić said there were "no historical reasons to change the square's name," which had been Theater Square before World War II.

"There are some people who are nostalgic for the Independent State of Croatia," said President Stjepan Mesić, referring to the country's Nazi-allied WWII regime.

Prisoners' associations say more than 100,000 Croatians were jailed for political reasons by the former Yugoslav communist regime.

Tito's Yugoslavia had a communist government but remained independent of the then Soviet Union to become one of the most prosperous Eastern European countries.

It consisted of six republics: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

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