Protesters Clash With Police in Montenegro After Priests’ Arrest

Protests against the detention of the Serbian Orthodox clergy in Pljevlja, Montenegro. Photo: Facebook video screenshot

Police battled protesters in Pljevlja and Niksic with tear gas, leaving dozens of police officers and protesters injured. Protests also took place in Budva, Berane and the capital, Podgorica.

The protesters demanded the release of Bishop Joanikije of Niksic and seven other priests accused of conducting the illegal procession in the town. While some media accused the police of using excessive force on protesters, the police directorate claimed that some of the protesters had thrown stones, wounding 22 policemen.

The Rector of the Cetinje school of theology, Gojko Perovic, accused the authorities of using excessive force. "We call on them to stop their violent behaviour towards peaceful and non-violent protests. It is clear that the injustice has exceeded every measure," Perovic said in a press release.

Police arrested the bishop and clergy on May 12 and placed them in custody for 72 hours for violating the ban on public gatherings after they and leading Serbian Orthodox cleric in Montenegro, Metropolitan Amfilohije, led a procession in Niksic to celebrate St Vasilije's Day, accompanied by thousands of believers.

Police arrests journalist in Niksic:

On Wednesday, police arrested a correspondent for a Serbian newspaper, Velisa Kadic, while he was covering the protests in Niksic.

The Vecernje Novosti correspondent said he was arrested while taking photos of police beating one of the protesters.

"I told them that I was a journalist, but they used pepper spray and deleted all the photos from my phone," Kadic told the Montenegrin media.

Large gatherings remain banned in Montenegro...

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