Man Kicks Down Anti-fascist Statue, Breaks Leg

A man walks by a toppled down monument of Croatia's World War Two partisan, Rade Koncar, on November 7, 2018 in Split, Croatia. STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

A man has been injured in Croatia after the anti-fascist monument he was vandalizing fell on his leg, breaking it.

The 65-year-old man paid an immediate penalty for his actions in the incident in the coastal town of Split on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

The "savage vandalism" targeted a bust of Rade Končar, a famous resistance leader who fought against Croatia's pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War Two, police explained.

Before the break-up of the country, Končar was revered as a Yugoslavian hero for his anti-fascist campaign. Since Yugoslavia dissolved, he has remained a symbol of national pride for many in Croatia.

Končar, then aged 31, was captured by anti-communist forces in 1941, along with several of his communist comrades. They were later transferred to Italian custody and executed in 1942. When asked by a judge if he would seek clemency, Končar allegedly retorted: "I will not ask for mercy nor would I have it for you."

According to local newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, the hospital treating the vandal said he would undergo surgery on the damaged leg. Police said they will conduct a criminal investigation into the incident as soon as he is discharged.

Thousands of anti-fascist monuments have been vandalized or destroyed since Croatia gained its independence in 1991, The Guardian noted. Far-right and nationalist sentiment runs deep in the Balkan country, encouraged by nostalgia for the brutal Ustasha and the scars of the vicious ethnonationalist wars from which independent Croatia emerged.

The regime killed hundreds of thousands of people considered its enemies or undesirables, especially Serbs, anti-fascist Croats, Jews and Roma opponents.

Observers have accused the government of appeasing right-wing groups by failing to prosecute such vandalism and ignoring the influence of nationalistic groups in the country's political sphere.

In August, current President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović dismissed suggestions that ultra-nationalism remained a problem in Croatian politics. She said the presence of prominent far-right figures in parliament—one of whom stands accused of war crimes and others of Ustasha sympathies—was "the exception, not the rule."

"There is no xenophobic reaction in Croatia to any newcomers or migrants," Grabar-Kitarović said. "There are no threats to democracy or to human rights. We should focus on the mainstream in society that makes Croatia what it is today."

Some Croatian social media users have suggested that this statue, at least, got some modicum of revenge. Moderate politician Krešo Beljak wrote on Twitter, "Rade Končar breaks the legs of fascists 76 years after they shot him."