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Croatian National Theatre: Police end mass parties in front of Zagreb’s cultural icon

Croatian National Theatre

Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 18 October 2020 – After several months of uninterrupted weekend partying in front of the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Zagreb, local authorities have fulfilled their promises and ended the largest street party in the country.

The Croatian National Theatre become a popular place for mass outdoor gatherings, especially after midnight when many bars were forced to close due to coronavirus measures.

For the first time in months, last night at around 10.30 pm police, and around 20 municipal wardens turned up to break up the party. Within an hour, the area in front of the Croatian National Theatre was emptied, and groups of young people dispersed and continued the fun in the surrounding parks, Jutarnji list reported.

Mass outdoor parties have been taking place in the Republic of Croatia Square, where the Croatian National Theatre building stands since May when epidemiological measures were relaxed, and about 500 people gathered there last weekend as well.

Residents requested protection

The noise, mess, and urinating that took place around the Croatian National Theatre building had been disturbing the residents of the Republic of Croatia Square, and they have been calling for some protection despite the fact that there are only about ten of them reside there.

One of the residents, Melita Kovacevic, who often could not fall asleep because of the noise, told Hina that in the last few months, she and her neighbours had been reporting everything to the police.

Zagreb police told Hina that from May 1 to September 30, they intervened about 50 times around the Croatian National Theatre following reports of possible disturbing of the peace. However, they have filed misdemeanor charges against only six people. 

The Cistoca city sanitation company told Hina that their employees had been intensively cleaning the Croatian National Theatre location and they had asked those gathering there to use bins to dispose of their litter, although there are just a few smaller bins around the square.

Croatian national theatre zagreb

Gathering in front of the HNK building (Photo credit: Instagram/becky_rebercky)

This week, a group of experts called on Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek and the Zagreb city authorities to do something about the gatherings to protect the city’s cultural heritage and enable dialogue between different social groups.

“The Croatian National Theatre and the surrounding area has become a place of nightly gatherings of young people… some of whom are active perpetrators of violence who are noisy, who smash things, throw up and urinate on and around the Croatian National Theatre building while others ignore it, minding their own business,” the group, called “Let’s Renew Zagreb”, said in a statement.

Noting that the square where the Croatian National Theatre is located was a place of spontaneous gatherings in the early 1980s, they say that at the time there was municipal order and a sense of the importance of the city’s cultural heritage.

“The national theatre – the HNK – has now become a disgrace and a public toilet,” the group said.

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