Log Revolution
Part of Breakup of Yugoslavia
DateAugust 17, 1990
Resulted inCroatian War of Independence
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Republic of Serbian Krajina Milan Martić
Republic of Serbian Krajina Milan Babić
Republic of Serbian Krajina Jovan Rašković
Socialist Republic of Croatia Franjo Tuđman
Socialist Republic of Croatia Stjepan Mesić
Socialist Republic of Croatia Josip Boljkovac
Units involved
Local Serb Militia Croatian Police
Casualties and losses
2 killed

The Log Revolution (Serbo-Croatian: Balvan revolucija / Балван револуција) was an insurrection which started on August 17, 1990, in areas of the Republic of Croatia which were populated significantly by ethnic Serbs.[1] A full year of tension, including minor skirmishes, passed before these events would escalate into the Croatian War of Independence.


Main article: Independence of Croatia

In the lead up to the first free elections in April and May 1990, the ethnic relations between the Croats and the Serbs in SR Croatia became a subject of political debate.

The local Serbs in the village of Berak put up barricades in order to disrupt the elections.[2] During the act of government transition from the former to the new authorities in Croatia, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) organized a "regular military maneuvre" in which a regiment of paratroopers was deployed to the Pleso Airport, which was taken as an implicit threat.[2] On May 14, 1990, the weapons of the Territorial Defense (TO) of Croatia were taken away by the Army,[3] preventing the possibility of Croatia having its own weapons like it was done in Slovenia.[2] According to Borisav Jović, this action was done at the behest of the Republic of Serbia. This action left Croatia extremely vulnerable to pressure from Belgrade, whose leadership began to intensify their public challenges to Croatia's borders.[4]

In an act of protest, the militant part of Croatian Serbs in some areas where they formed a majority started to refuse authority to the new Croatian government and beginning in early 1990 held several meetings and public rallies in support of their cause and in protest against the new government.[1] These protests were in support of Serbian nationalism, a centralized Yugoslavia and Milošević (see Anti-bureaucratic revolution).

In June and July 1990, Serb representatives in Croatia openly rejected the new government's proposed amendments to the Constitution of SR Croatia which changed the name of the republic and entered new state symbols.[2] The new Coat of arms of Croatia was known colloquially as "the chessboard" by the Serb population, who associated it with the symbols of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (known by its Serbo-Croatian initials NDH) during World War II, although the red and white chessboard is a historical Croatian symbol since 15th century and had already officially been contained in the emblem of the SR Croatia within Yugoslavia.[5] The comparisons between the new government of Croatia and the Ustaše government of the NDH not only evoked the idea of extreme nationalism or fascism but also the genocide of ethnic Serbs by the Ustaše during World War II, a topic that had become part of the mainstream political discourse in the previous two years, with certain Croat politicians disputing the number of Serbs killed.

In the summer of 1990 the process of dissolution was ongoing, with the Croatian government implementing policies that were seen as openly nationalistic and anti-Serbian in nature, such as the removal of the Cyrillic script from correspondence in public offices (the Serbian register of Serbo-Croatian is usually written in an adapted Cyrillic script while the Croatian and Bosnian registers use the Latin).[6][7]

As tensions rose and war was becoming more imminent, Serbs in public institutions were forced to sign "loyalty sheets" to the new Croatian government, with refusal to do so resulting in immediate dismissal. The policy was especially noticeable in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as some of the Serbs serving there were arrested for supporting Krajina Militia also known as Martić's Police. Pressure was also placed on Serb intellectuals like Jovan Rašković that promoted ideas of Greater Serbia.[7][8]


Led by Milan Babić and Milan Martić, the local Serbs proclaimed SAO Kninska Krajina in August 1990 and began blockading roads connecting Dalmatia to the rest of Croatia. The blockade was mostly made from logs cut down from nearby woods, which is why the event was dubbed the "Log Revolution". The organizers were armed with illegal weapons supplied by Martić.[1] Since it was a planned action, timed during the summer holiday season and severing land ties to the popular tourist region of Dalmatia, high economic damage was done to Croatian tourism.

The revolt was explained by the Serbs with words that they are "terrorized [by Croatian government]" and that they "[fight for] more cultural, language and education rights". Serbian newspaper "Večernje Novosti" wrote that "2.000.000 Serbs [are] ready to go to Croatia to fight". The Western diplomats commented that the Serbian media is inflaming passions and Croatian government said "We knew about the scenario to create confusion in Croatia...".[9]

The minor skirmishes of the Log Revolution had apparently caused a police casualty - in the night of November 22/23, 1990, a Croatian police car was fired upon on a hill near Obrovac and one of the policemen, 27-year-old Goran Alavanja, died of seven gunshot wounds. The incident involved three policemen of Serb ethnicity[10] who were reportedly shot by a sole rebel Serb gunman, but the murder was never actually officially resolved.[11]

In another earlier incident near Petrinja, another Croatian policeman, Josip Božićević, was shot by a firearm in the night of September 28, 1990,[11][12] and a leaked Ministry of Internal Affairs memo classified this as a fatality.[11]

On December 21, 1990, the municipalities of Knin, Benkovac, Vojnić, Obrovac, Gračac, Dvor and Kostajnica adopted the "Statute of the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina".[13]

Over two hundred armed incidents involving the rebel Serbs and Croatian police were reported between August 1990 and April 1991.[13][14]


The open hostilities of the Croatian War of Independence began in April 1991.

As a part of his plea bargain with the prosecution, in 2006 Milan Babić testified against Martić during his ICTY trial, saying Martić "tricked him into agreeing to the Log Revolution". He also testified that the entire war in Croatia was "Martić's responsibility, orchestrated by Belgrade".[15] They were both convicted for ethnic cleansing of Croats and other non-Serbs from Krajina.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Case No. IT-03-72-I: The Prosecutor v. Milan Babić" (PDF). International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  2. ^ a b c d Kreš 2010, p. 6.
  3. ^ Kreš 2010, p. 54.
  4. ^ Glaurdic, Josip (2011). The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia. London: Yale University Press. pp. 90–92. ISBN 030016629X.
  5. ^ Elena Guskova. History of the Yugoslavian crisis (1990-2000). — Moscow: 2001. — P. 137. — ISBN 5941910037
  6. ^ Elena Guskova. History of the Yugoslavian crisis (1990-2000). — Moscow: 2001. — P. 147. — ISBN 5941910037
  7. ^ a b Yugoslavia in the 20th Century: Sketches of Political History.— Moscow: Indrik, 2011. — p. 780-781. — ISBN 9785916741216
  8. ^ Радослав И. Чубрило, Биљана Р. Ивковић, Душан Ђаковић, Јован Адамовић, Милан Ђ. Родић и др. Српска Крајина. — Београд: Матић, 2011. — С. 201-206
  9. ^ Roads Sealed as Yugoslav Unrest Mounts, New York Times, August 1990
  10. ^ "Naša domovina - I Jovan je branio Hrvatsku". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  11. ^ a b c Jasna Babić (2002-01-08). "406 ubojica slobodno šeće Hrvatskom" [406 murderers walk free in Croatia]. Nacional (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 18 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
  12. ^ "Ubrzana priprema JNA za borbeno djelovanje u RH". Hrvatski vojnik #261 (in Croatian). October 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  13. ^ a b "Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to security council resolution 780 (1992), Annex IV - The policy of ethnic cleansing; Prepared by: M. Cherif Bassiouni". United Nations. 28 December 1994. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  14. ^ David C. Isby, "Yugoslavia 1991: Armed Forces in Conflict", Jane's Intelligence Review 394, 402 (September 1991)
  15. ^ Goran Jungvirth (2006-02-17). "Martić "Provoked" Croatian Conflict". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
  16. ^ "Summary of Judgement for Milan Martić" (PDF). International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Retrieved 18 May 2011.