54 people, including two members of the opposition Democratic Front, were arrested in Montenegro late in the evening of June 24 in protests in several towns that turned violent, the police reported on June 25.
Political tensions in the tiny Adriatic country started escalating after President Milo Djukanovic announced earlier in June that a general election will be held on August 30, opening room for the unofficial start of the election campaign in a country where Djukanovic's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has dominated politics for some 30 years.
The June 24 protests were organised after earlier in June the police arrested and subsequently released the mayor of the town of Budva, Marko Carevic, and city councillors who refused to hand over power after losing their majority. These arrests followed days of tensions in Budva where a coalition of the Democratic Front and the Democrats won a majority in the city council in 2016. However, some of their councilors decided to switch to the ruling DPS and the coalition between the two parties lost its majority.
In the evening of June 24, police used tear gas in the capital Podgorica and in the town of Niksic, claiming it was forced to do so after protesters started throwing stones at the police headquarters. 32 people were arrested in the two towns.
The anti-corruption NGO MANS commented on June 25 that the police’s actions were brutal proof of the “open dictatorship of Milo Djukanovic”.
“The latest events in Budva represent a naked, brutal violence of the party police on the citizens of Montenegro. The most recent photos, on which can be seen that police members are kicking and hitting already disabled and chained citizens represent a terrifying proof of the brutal police abuse by captured institutions,” MANS said in the statement.
It referred to videos showing policemen kicking a man who had already been arrested and was on the ground during the protests in Budva on June 24. One of these videos was posted by news outlet Vijesti.
Meanwhile, the NGO Council for Civic Police Control has asked anyone who has a video showing the incident to send it in as they are investigating the case.
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