Jovan Rašković

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Jovan Rašković, PhD
др Јован Рашковић
JovanRaskovic.jpg
1st President of the Serb Democratic Party in Croatia
In office
17 February 1990 – December 1990
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Milan Babić
Personal details
Born (1929-07-05)5 July 1929
Knin, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Died 29 July 1992(1992-07-29) (aged 63)
Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia
Nationality Serb
Political party Serb Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Profession Psychiatrist
Religion Serbian Orthodox Christian

Jovan Rašković (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Рашковић; July 5, 1929 – July 29, 1992) was an ethnic Serbian psychiatrist and politician from Croatia.

Rašković was born in Knin on July 5, 1929. He grew up there and in Kistanje in Dalmatia, the southern region of Croatia. During World War II, after the Ustasha pogrom of his relatives in Knin, Rašković was exiled in the village of Kistanje that was occupied by fascist Italian forces. Rašković passed his secondary school exams in Šibenik, and graduated in Zagreb. He then studied electrical engineering and medicine at the University of Zagreb, where he obtained his diploma and a PhD at the Medical School.

In the 1960s, Rašković was director of Šibenik City Hospital and director of Medical Center, later. He was one of the founders of Medical Research Institute of Neurophysiology in Ljubljana.

Rašković was a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Academy of Medical Sciences of Croatia, as well as a member of a number of psychiatry associations in the USA, the former Czechoslovakia, and Italy. He was a university professor in Zagreb and Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a visiting professor at the universities of Pavia, Rome, Houston and London.

In early 1990, Rašković went into politics and founded the Serbian Democratic Party of Croatia (Srpska demokratska stranka, SDS), which took part in first democratic elections. He was an impressive public speaker who tended to cast current events in dark, historical, and symbolic terms, which led to his being criticised for increasing ethnic tensions in Croatia. He also noticed that there was no equivalent party in Bosnia and Herzegovina and contacted a professional colleague whom he knew shared his views, Radovan Karadžić, to suggest that he set one up.

Tomb of Jovan Rašković at the Alley of Distinguished Citizens.

Although the SDS won relatively few seats in 1990 elections, it quickly began to increase its power and Rašković was soon perceived as a leader of Croatian Serbs by Franjo Tuđman and his new government. This led to direct negotiations between the two about the future of Serb minority in Croatia. During one of those negotiations Rašković remarked that the "Serbs were crazy people". Tuđman's chief political advisor Slaven Letica had those words secretly taped and leaked the transcript to Croatian media in a hope to discredit Rašković among his people and thus replace him with someone more acceptable to Croatian government. This proved to be disastrous miscalculation - instead of rejecting Rašković, many Croatian Serbs lost any trust in Croatian government and embraced extremism that would ultimately lead to armed conflict.

Later in 1990, Rašković was removed from power by "more radical, hard-line Serb nationalists" who went on to create the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Rašković retired from politics in 1991, following the Plitvice Lakes incident.

He died in Belgrade from a heart attack on July 29, 1992 at the age of 63. He is buried in Belgrade, Serbia.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Position established
President of the Serb Democratic Party in Croatia
1990
Succeeded by
Milan Babić