The president of the Serb National Council (SNV), Milorad Pupovac, on Saturday condemned the attack carried out by a group of sports fans, ethnic Serbs, on a young man in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar, but refuted claims that such attacks were encouraged by the leadership of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) which he is a member of.
"My party and the SNV have condemned this criminal act committed by three young men and I am condemning it now," Pupovac said in an interview with Croatian Radio during which reporter read out part of the letter of the mother of the attacked young man who accused Pupovac and SDSS president Vojislav Stanimirovic of the attack.
"Have there not been similar condemnations from Stanimirovic and me, we would have probably condemned the attack sooner and in even stronger terms. This way, when the responsibility for a hooligan behaviour of three young men is being sought in people who are fighting for democratic values, equality and lawfulness then, unfortunately, this takes a form in which any apology is meaningless," Pupovac said.
He underscored that ever since he entered politics, he was fighting against all forms of violence, adding that attempts were being made at portraying the leaders of Serb parties and institutions as those responsible for violence because they were fighting violence, hate speech and intolerance.
He said he did not blame the mother of the beaten young man. "I blame those who have been forming those words for years and who, even before the police and court, recognised me and Stanimirovic (as those responsible), which is very dangerous, Pupovac said.
Commenting on the statement by the head of the Association for the Defence of Croatian Vukovar, Tomislav Josic, who said that "Pupovac would have been all over TV" had the violence been directed against Serbs, Pupovac said Josic "is the last person who can say anything about that, after he led people who, with hammers in their hands, determined what law is and what isn't, what a feeling is and what isn't, those who brought in the atmosphere of violence to Vukovar over the Cyrillic script, blaming the government for implementing the law and attempting to declare the Cyrillic script a criminal script."
He confirmed he planned to send another letter to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic after the one in which he warned her about growing intolerance in the society ended up in the media.
"I did not write that letter to be public and especially not so that I can be attacked over it, I wrote it to discuss the problems stated in it. The Office of the President decided to make the letter public, without my consent, in order to shift the blame onto me and some other people," Pupovac said.