Montenegro to Probe Police Role in Orthodox Church Unrest – Prime Minister Zdravko Krivopkapic on Monday announced that there will be an internal investigation into police management of the protests at the weekend in the city of Cetinje, alleging that some police officials hesitated to act against protesters.
“In the command chain, we will investigate every act by each individual who provided or did not provide support. That will be done in the next seven days and the public will be informed,” Krivokapic told a press conference.
“No one will be spared, no matter what position they have or which political party is protecting him,” he warned.
On Sunday, violence erupted in Cetinje, the old royal capital of Montenegro, after opposition supporters and self-declared patriotic groups clashed with police trying to stop the enthronement of a new Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan, Joanikije, at Cetinje Monastery.
The protesters claimed the inauguration in Cetinje was an insult to Montenegro’s struggle for sovereignty and independence from Serbia, to which it was united from the end of World War I until 2006.
During the clashes on Sunday, several protesters and police officers were injured.
Earlier in the day, police removed roadblocks that had been erected near Cetinje in attempts to stop clerics from reaching the town for the ceremony.
Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije and the new Metropolitan of Montenegro were then transported to Cetinje by army helicopters.
They were escorted to the monastery protected by bulletproof shields, while police used tear gas to disperse protesters nearby.
Nebojsa Medojevic, one of the leaders of the Democratic Front, which is part of the ruling alliance, accused police officials of refusing to protect the ceremony.
“I call on the prime minister to dismiss Interior Minister Sergej Sekulovic and head of the police, Zoran Brdjanin, because they refused to implement government decisions. They were involved in a conspiracy with the goal of creating institutional chaos, internationalising the political crisis and returning the [former ruling] Democratic Party of Socialists to power with violence and certain elements of terrorism,” Medojevic told a press conference.
On Monday, media reported that Prime Minister Krivopkapic intends to ask for the Interior Minister and chief of police’s dismissal, but is under strong diplomatic pressure not to do so.
Krivokapic refused to answer media questions about whether Sekulovic and Brdjanin will be dismissed.
Sekulovic wrote on Twitter that the police are “politically and ideologically neutral in their work”.
Meanwhile, the Basic Court in Cetinje released the former head of the police, Veselin Veljovic, who was detained on Sunday for leading the protesters into clashes with police officers. On Monday, Veljovic accused the government of acting against Montenegrin statehood.
Montenegro, which declared independence in 2006, is a multi-ethnic society split between those who consider themselves Montenegrins, those who identify as Serbs and various other smaller groups.