Several thousand admirers of the charismatic and controversial former leader of communist Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito celebrated the 130th anniversary of his birth in his native village in Croatia, which houses a museum, on Saturday.
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Coming from the four corners of the former Yugoslav Federation, they had made the trip to Kumrovec (northern Croatia) to honor his memory, and in particular the memory of his leadership against the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War and against Stalin, with the creation of the Non-Aligned movement.
The purpose of the gathering is to remember, not just the past but a time when we lived richer and more secure
," said Jovan Vejnovic, head of an association of Tito's nostalgic faithful.
Many participants displayed flags of the former Yugoslavia and T-shirts bearing the likeness of the former leader.
After hunting down Nazi occupation forces during World War II, Tito ruled Yugoslavia with an iron fist for 35 years, until his death on May 4, 1980 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Deprived of the leader's magnetism and his authoritarian leadership, the mosaic of peoples and religions that made up the Yugoslav Federation only held out for a decade before exploding into a series of wars that claimed more than 130,000 lives.
Tito's legacy remains controversial in the countries born out of the breakup of Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).
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Some love it, others hate it.
Its name evokes a kind of golden age during which Yugoslavia was one of the most prosperous communist countries.