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Bosnian Serbs erect statue of Franz Ferdinand assassin on 100 year anniversary

Gavrilo Princip statue
Gavrilo Princip statue
D. Dozet / NOVOSTI

100 years ago today Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a group of six nationalist assassins made up of five Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim. This historical landmark is universally known as the event that triggered the start of World War I and changed the course of history as well as the way humanity would view war from that point forward.

One of the assassins, Gavrilo Pricip, who fired the shot which killed Ferdinand is hailed as a hero among Serbs residing in Bosnia to this day and in honor of the 100th anniversary residents of the Bosnian Serb quarter of East Sarajevo have erected a 6-foot tall bronze statue of Pricip in the town. While many more Serbs protest the ceremony from nearby and Serbian political leaders stay away from the ceremony completely.

Gavrilo Pricip is considered a freedom fighter by many Serbs to this day because his work to assassinate Ferdinand is considered to have been a move to liberate the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montengro, Slovenia, and Serbia so they could form what would later be known briefly as Yugoslavia. Before World War I began Serbs and many other Slavs felt oppressed by bigger empires like Austria-Hungary, and being imperialised by them only cemented the feeling. After the assassination, Austria-Hungary issued Serbia an ultimatum which was ignored, causing the empire to declare war against Serbia andmarking the official start of the First World War.

The Slavic countries that once made up Yugoslavia have a long and torrid history of being at severe odds with each other, continuing long after the war and into the 21st century. During the unveiling of the statue professional Bosnian actor Jovan Mojsilovic participated in a reenactment of the 1914 assassination while onlookers cheered and chanted about taking down the EU and NATO -- both of which are blamed by Bosnian Serbs for preventing them from winning their violent civil war which took place between 1992 and 1995. Much of Sarajevo and the surrounding countries are still severely damaged both physically and politically from the civil war.