Montenegro police fire tear gas at angry protesters at Cleric’s coronation


Podgorica, Montenegro — Montenegro police used Tiagas on Sunday to disperse hundreds of people protesting the throne of the Serbian Orthodox Church as a religious leader in the country.

News site Vijesti reported that demonstrators in the town of Cetinje threw rocks, bottles and firecrackers at police when a person from the church was sent to the town by helicopter, but reports of injuries on either side. There wasn’t.

The coronation of Joanikije II, known as the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Archbishop of Cetinje, as the supreme priest of the national church, was carried out under close security in the town monastery.

The protests reflect the tensions of the Balkans between those who claim close ties with Belgrade and those who oppose the Serbian alliance.

Montenegro left the coalition with Serbia in 2006, but the church had no autonomy and remained under the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the eyes of some, it is a symbol of Serbian influence.

Protesting Bishop Joanikie's coronation in Cetinje
A barricade was fired on September 5, 2021 in Cetinje, Montenegro, protesting the coronation of Bishop Joanikie. (Stevo Vasiljevic / Reuters)

Prime Minister Zudlavko Kribokapic described the attack on police in Cetinje as a “terrorist act.”

He accused President Milo Đukanovich of organizing a protest against President Milo Đukanovich’s Socialist Democratic Party, which had ruled the country for 30 years before losing last year’s elections.

Đukanovich opposes the coronation, but does not comment on Kribokapic’s allegations of organizing demonstrations. Đukanovich’s adviser, Betherin Berjovic, was arrested on Sunday for participating in an attack on police, state television reported.

Tonino Picula, EU envoy to Montenegro, said there were concerns about rising tensions.

“Not only the freedom to express, but the freedom to protest is inviolable,” Pitzra told state television.

By Stevo Vasiljevic and Ivana Sekularac