The performance artists belonged to the group of Zadar high school students protesting Gotovina's arrest in Zadar. During their demonstrations they also stoned city administration and local SDP offices. The nearby Zadar area also experienced two nights of tires and garbage dump torching, as well as logs being thrown to the roads, which had resulted in number of traffic accidents.
The rest of Croatia is reacting to this news with relative calm. Gospić (Gospic) and Osijek saw two more orderly public protests with couple hundreds of participants. Another protest in Zadar brought couple of thousands participants today.
All this looks like a storm in teacup compared with the events following indictment of Croatian Army general Mirko Norac four years ago. This impression is most likely to be even more obvious after tomorrow's great demonstration in Split.
Four years ago Norac's indictment brought some 150,000 men to what would later be remembered as the greatest public protest in history of Croatia. Tomorrow's organisers are going to be very happy if they gather only tenth of that number.
One of the participants is definitely not going to be Ivo Sanader who, four years ago appeared on Riva and attacked Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and his left-centre government for allowing the mere thought of Croatian Army officers being arrested and extradited to Hague.
Sanader can also rely on otherwise staunchly pro-Gotovina Church. Their representatives called for calm.
The most surprising endorsement of Sanader came from Marko Perković "Thompson" (Marko Perkovic "Thompson"), Croatian musician whose "Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara" (Jasenovac i Gradiska Stara) fame was preceded by songs praising Ante Gotovina and his flight and accusing former government of betraying Croatia with its co-operation with ICTY. In his statement "Thompson" said that he would not sing at tomorrow's rally and he also supported government.
Most mainstream observers, after digesting initial shock, are trying to play down the story. Some point to Serbia and try to portray its failure to apprehend Radovan Karadžić (Radovan Karadzic) and Ratko Mladić (Ratko Mladic) as the proof of Croatian police and intelligence services' efficiency and inherent superiority to its Serbian peers. Others are looking forward to severe economic, diplomatic and any other nasty consequences of Serbia's failure to fulfil its Hague obligations - a fate Croatia was, in their mind, very wise to evade.
Of course, if Karadžić and Mladić are arrested in near future, Sanader's spin doctors have already prepared a campaign designed to portray Gotovina as an innocent man who could never be put in the same basket with those two and his legal troubles as mere "technicality" that could be solved through Sanader's brilliant diplomacy. Slobodna Dalmacija already published an article about Carla del Ponte's letter that had allegedly promised Gotovina's release and trial in Croatia as an exchange for Croatian government's full co-operation in his arrest.
In the meantime, first polls indicate that some 60 % of all Croatians see Gotovina's arrest as "bad news". Some 43 % believe that he will be acquitted in Hague, while 43 % believe that he will be pronounced guilty. Other, more sinister, measurement of popular sentiment could be found on Croatian walls, recently "decorated" with chauvinistic graffiti.