Three-finger salute (Serbian)

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For other uses of this phrase, see Three-finger salute.
Three-finger salute on 2008 Kosovo is Serbia rally in Belgrade

The three-finger salute (Serbian: три прста/tri prsta, English: three fingers) is a salute which originally expressed the Serbian orthodoxism, but today it is a simply sign for Serbia, used by Serbs, made by extending the thumb, index, and middle fingers of one or both hands.


The gesture in its modern form is attributed to Vuk Drašković, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement political party. In a 2007 interview, he explained that he first used it in 1990 at the founding meeting of the party. Drašković got inspiration in a painting by Paja Jovanović depicting the Serbian prince Miloš Obrenović greeting Serb insurgents with three extended fingers during the Second Serbian Uprising of 1815.[1] During the March 1991 street demonstrations in Belgrade, the three fingers were massively used by Drašković's supporters, representing the three demands that the Serbian Renewal Movement had put before the government.[2][3] At the eve of the Yugoslav wars, the salute was popularized by Jovan Rašković, leader of the Republic of Serbian Krajina.


One popular theory on the origin of the salute is based on the way that Orthodox Serbs perform the Sign of the Cross, with three extended fingers representing the Trinity. A saying often used by Serbs is: Nema krsta bez tri prsta ("There is no cross without three fingers").[4] It can also symbolize "one finger for St. Sava, the other finger for Karađorđe, and the third finger for Njegoš".[5]


NBA basketball player Sasha Pavlović displaying the three-finger salute

The salute is used by members and supporters of almost all Serbian political parties (excluding Liberal Democratic Party)[citation needed] on their rallies during election campaigns. It can be seen at all kinds of street demonstrations and celebrations.

The salute is often used by sport fans and players when celebrating sport victories. After winning the 1995 European basketball championship, the entire then-Yugoslav team displayed the three fingers. Sasha Djordjevic says he flashed the three fingers "not to be provocative. Just: that's Serbia, that's us, that's me – nothing else. It's my pride."[6] More recently, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has shown the three-finger salute often after his victories.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, President of Serbia Boris Tadić and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić saluted the Serbian Olympic Team with three fingers.


Some Albanians, Bosniaks, and Croats find three-finger salute provocative and offensive due to perceived irredentist symbolism of that sign in their territories.

Eurovision song contest winner, Marija Šerifović, while celebrating the maximum of 12 points that she received from Bosnian viewers displayed the three-finger salute. This caused controversy as some Bosnian viewers saw it as provocation,[7][8] but Swedish Serbs called it ridiculous, saying the salute is nothing more than a modified V sign.[9]

Rade Leskovac, president of the one of Serbian minority party in Croatia, caused a controversy in 2007 when election posters featuring him giving the three-fingered salute were posted around the city of Vukovar.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tri prsta za pobedu" (in Serbian). Večernje novosti. 2007-11-17. 
  2. ^ Tri Srbije?. B92 Editorial. 10 October 2002.
  3. ^ "- Lepo ste se toga setili! Podignuta tri prsta jesu simbol koji je u masovnu upotrebu uveo Vuk Drašković na mitingu u Beogradu 13. marta 1991. godine. Tada je SPO imala tri zahteva, a jedan od njih je bio da se puste svi pohapšeni 9. marta. To je bio naš simbol borbe za promene, a iako je trebalo dosta vremena da se taj simbol prihvati, očigledno je da je uspelo. I kada ga danas koriste radikali, nemam ništa protiv – kaže Srećković.. Three fingers are a symbol that was introduced by Vuk Drašković during demonstrations in Belgrade on 13 March 1991. Serbian Renewal Movement had three demands, and one of them was to release all people arrested for 9 March. That was our symbol of fight for change, although it took a lot of time for that symbol to be adopted it is clearly now adopted. I don't mind Serbian Radicals using it today" – says Srećković. [1] from Kurir
  4. ^ Hajdinjak, Marko. (2000) Yugoslavia – Dismantled and Plundered 1 THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL CASE NO. IT-94-1-T
  5. ^ [2] from Kurir
  6. ^ Prisoners of War by Sports Illustrated
  7. ^ Tajni znakovi Eurosonga: Kome je Marija podigla tri prsta?
  8. ^ Georg Cederskog. "Schlagertävlingen hotar bli politiserad", Dagens Nyheter 13 May 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  9. ^ Serbernas riksförbund i Sverige et al. "'Missförstå inte våra serbiska tre fingrar'", Aftonbladet, 17 May 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Nepoželjna "tri prsta" u hrvatskoj izbornoj kampanji" (in Serbian). RTS. 2007-11-16.