Man Claimed to Have Thrown Tear Gas against Bregovic’s Concert Detained

The nervousness of some segments of the public opinion over a concert by Bosnian-born musician Goran Bregovic, known of his sympathy for the late Balkan butcher, Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic, which went ahead in the southeastern city of Korca, has been expressed by the throwing of tear gas canisters on the crowd of his followers.

The incident happened on Sunday evening which was the closure of a 5-day event and the night when Bregovic and his musical group performed.

“21-year-old Redon Leka threw tear gas canisters in order to violate public order and safety during the Beer Festival on August 22, 2021,” said a police statement released on Monday which informed that Leka was detained.

The statement stressed that Leka was immediately caught by police and that the incident did not interrupt the concert on Sunday evening. Another man was also arrested for resisting the police.

Video footage posted on YouTube showed people wiping their eyes, covering their faces and trying to get away from the gas.

Protesters who called for banning the concert, said that one of his songs, ‘Kalashnikov’, inspired massacres by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war.

Musicians from Kosovo who were supposed to participate in the festival in Korca withdrew and also asked the local government to cancel Bregovic’s performance.

The Self-determination (Vetevendosje) Movement in Albania, a domestic branch of the nationalist ruling party in neighboring Kosovo, has denied that it was responsible for the tear gas incident even though it had opposed the Bregovic concert.

“Our stance about this concert and the singer in question were made public at the action with banners organized in Korca on August 19, 2021,” the party said on Monday.

Last week, Self-determination’s activists hung a banner with the slogan “Bregovic, tambour (drum) of genocide” in the main square in Korca.

Tifozat Kuq e Zi (Red and Black Fans), a popular football fans’ group, had also called for the Bregovic concert in Korca to be banned and said that “we will not stop until we achieve the goal” of cancelling it. The group has not confirmed or denied whether or not it was behind the tear gas attack.

Bregovic, who was born in Sarajevo to a Croat father and a Serb mother, rose to fame with the band Bijelo Dugme in the Yugoslav era, and went on to gain international renown for his music based on Balkan themes, particularly after he wrote the soundtracks for several films by Emir Kusturica.

This was Bregovic’s second performance in Albania as the first one was in 2014 at the invitation of the then mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, who is now Albania’s prime minister and head of the ruling Socialist Party. Rama is a close political friend of the Serb President, Aleksandar Vucic which is disliked by most of Kosovo’s public opinion. Rama’s reputation in Kosovo has fallen down and the relations between Albanian and Kosovo have narrowed. But as Bregovic’s event showed Rama has decided to follow his own way without asking for the opinion of Kosovars let alone Albanians. /