Montenegro’s Supreme State Prosecutor has accused two leaders of the opposition Democratic Front (DF) of calling for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order at an anti-government demonstration on October 24.
The Democratic Front, a coalition of opposition parties, has organised several protests this autumn in an attempt to force Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to stand down. While several thousand people took part, polls show the majority of Montenegrins do not back the protesters.
Parliament members Andrija Mandic and Slaven Radunovic were arrested late on October 24 and accused of instigating the clashes between protesters and police at the end of the demonstration. Protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at police, and around 40 people including 15 police officers were injured.
A brief note published on the prosecutor’s website refers to “actual evidence for seeking a prior approval to institute criminal proceedings against MP's A.M. and S.R. for the criminal offence of calling to a violent change of constitutional order.”
According to a document sent by the prosecutor to parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic and published by Portalanalitika.me on November 6, video recordings show that Mandic and Radunovic were calling for Montenegro’s constitutional order to be changed by force.
The document quotes Mandic as telling protesters “tonight the thing must be done to the end” and appealing on the police to stop protecting the main entrance of the parliament and allow protesters to enter.
The prosecution also said that Radunovic had lied to the crowd, claiming that Krivokapic has left the parliament building. The DF leader then said the parliament speaker had ten minutes to meet the opposition’s demands, after which the protest organisers would not take any responsibility for the ensuing actions. Immediately afterwards, Radunovic and several other protesters broke through a protective fence and moved towards the parliament building, sparking the clashes with police, according to the document.
On his Facebook page, Radunovic commented that the accusations were not true.
Montenegro’s parliamentary administrative committee will discuss whether to strip the two MPs of their immunity at a meeting on November 9, according to broadcaster RTCG.
The DF comprises three opposition parties - New Serb Democracy (NOVA), Movement for Changes (PzP) and Democratic Party of Unity (DSJ) - led by former diplomat Miodrag Lekic. Its main goal is to overthrow Djukanovic’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS), which has been in power since 1991.
A poll conducted by Damar polling agency prior to the protests showed that just 11.5% of Montenegrins believe that protests are the opposition’s most effective political tool. Most of those polled, 29.6%, think that the most effective political tool is participation in elections.
However, the DF insists it will continue trying to oust Djukanovic, who has been in power almost continuously since 1991, when he became the youngest prime minister in Europe at the age of just 29. He later held the position of president (between 1998 and 2002) and was again prime minister from 2003 to 2006, 2008 to 2010, and from December 2012 to the present.
The DF wants to organise another protest rally at the end of November, but deputy parliament speaker Milutin Simovic said that, following the October 24 clashes, it is not realistic to expect that the party will get permission to hold the demonstration, RTCG reported on November 6.