The Log Revolution (Serbo-Croatian: Balvan revolucija/Балван револуција) was an insurrection which started on August 17, 1990, in areas of the Republic of Croatia which were populated significantly by ethnic Serbs. A full year of tension, including minor skirmishes, passed before these events would escalate into the Croatian War of Independence.
|Part of Breakup of Yugoslavia and Revolutions of 1989|
|Date||August 17, 1990|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
The local Serbs in the village of Berak put up barricades in order to disrupt the elections. During the act of government transition from the former to the new authorities in Croatia, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) organized a "regular military maneuvre" in which a regiment of parachutists was deployed to the Pleso Airport, which was taken as an implicit threat. On May 14, 1990, the weapons of the Territorial Defense (TO) of Croatia were taken away by the Army, preventing the possibility of Croatia having its own weapons like it was done in Slovenia. According to Borisav Jović, this action was done at the behest of the Republic of Serbia. This action left Croatia extremely vulnerable to pressure from Belgrade, whose leadership began to intensify their public challenges to Croatia's borders.
In an act of protest, the militant part of Croatian Serbs in some areas where they formed a majority started to refuse authority to the new Croatian government and beginning in early 1990 held several meetings and public rallies in support of their cause and in protest against the new government.
In June and July 1990, Serb representatives in Croatia openly rejected the new government's proposed amendments to the Constitution of SR Croatia which changed the name of the republic and entered new state symbols. The new Coat of arms of Croatia was known colloquially as "the chessboard" by the Serb population, who associated it with the symbols of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (known by its Serbo-Croatian initials NDH) during World War II, although the chessboard had already officially been contained in the emblem of the Socialist Republic of Croatia within Yugoslavia. The comparisons between the new government of Croatia and the Ustaše government of the NDH not only evoked the idea of extreme nationalism or fascism but also the genocide of ethnic Serbs by the Ustaše during World War II, a topic that had become part of the mainstream political discourse in the previous two years, with certain Croat politicians disputing the number of Serbs killed.
In the summer of 1990 the process of dissolution was ongoing, with the Croatian government implementing policies that were seen as openly nationalistic and anti-Serbian in nature, such as the removal of the Cyrillic script from correspondence in public offices (the Serbian register of Serbo-Croatian is usually written in an adapted Cyrillic script while the Croatian and Bosnian registers use the Latin alphabet). Meanwhile, texts on Yugoslav history were withdrawn from school programs, as well as works of Yugoslav writers and poets, with new emphasis being placed on the history of Croatia in particular and literature by specifically Croatian writers.
As tensions rose and war was becoming more imminent, Serbs in public institutions were forced to sign "loyalty sheets" to the new Croatian government, with refusal to do so resulting in immediate dismissal. The policy was especially noticeable in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as some of the Serbs serving there were arrested. Meanwhile, pressure was also placed on Serb intellectuals.
Led by Milan Babić and Milan Martić, the local Serbs proclaimed SAO Kninska Krajina in August 1990 and began blockading roads connecting Dalmatia to the rest of Croatia. The blockade was mostly made from logs cut down from nearby woods, which is why the event was dubbed the "Log Revolution". The organizers were armed with illegal weapons supplied by Martić. Since it was a planned action, timed during the summer holiday season and severing land ties to the popular tourist region of Dalmatia, high economic damage was done to Croatian tourism.
The revolt was explained by the Serbs with words that they are "terrorized [by Croatian government]" and that they "[fight for] more cultural, language and education rights". Serbian newspaper "Večernje Novosti" wrote that "2.000.000 Serbs [are] ready to go to Croatia to fight". The Western diplomats commented that the Serbian media is inflaming passions and Croatian government said "We knew about the scenario to create confusion in Croatia...".
The minor skirmishes of the Log Revolution had apparently caused a police casualty - in the night of November 22/23, 1990, a Croatian police car was fired upon on a hill near Obrovac and one of the policemen, 27-year-old Goran Alavanja, died of seven gunshot wounds. The incident involved three policemen of Serb ethnicity who were reportedly shot by a sole rebel Serb gunman, but the murder was never actually officially resolved.
In another earlier incident near Petrinja, another Croatian policeman one Josip Božićević, was shot by a firearm in the night of September 28, 1990, and a leaked Ministry of Internal Affairs memo classified this as a fatality.
The open hostilities of the Croatian War of Independence began in April 1991.
As a part of his plea bargain with the prosecution, in 2006 Milan Babić testified against Martić during his ICTY trial, saying Martić "tricked him into agreeing to the Log Revolution". He also testified that the entire war in Croatia was "Martić's responsibility, orchestrated by Belgrade".
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- David C. Isby, "Yugoslavia 1991: Armed Forces in Conflict", Jane's Intelligence Review 394, 402 (September 1991)
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- Kreš, Marija, ed. (September 2010). "Prilog "Policija u Domovinskom ratu 1990. - 1991."" (PDF). Glasilo "Mir, ugled, povjerenje" (in Croatian). Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia (42). ISSN 1846-3444. Retrieved 2011-09-30.