Why have media turned into an object of attacks in Montenegro?

Why have media turned into an object of attacks in Montenegro?

Podgorica, December 31, 2013 / Balkan Independent News Agency

While the editor in chief of “Vijesti” was closing the first page of the newspaper to send it for printing, a powerful explosion trembled the sorroundings around his office.

It was a bomb that an unidentified person had activated half an hour before Saturday midnight under the window of the office of the editor in chief of the daily “Vijesti” in Podgorica (photo).

This was not the first attack against a central media in Montenegro. The same news paper underwent other attacks recently.

Meanwhile, violence against journalist is frequent in this small state which separated from Serbia 7 years ago.

Blast near the office of the editor in chief

At the moment of the explosion, editor in chief Mihailo Jovovic was in his office, near the place where the explosion took place. Around 15 people were in the offices next to him, part of the newsroom staff. Fortunately, there were no injured people.

Nevertheless, the explosion was powerful and material damages were significant. The lower floor was damaged and the window glasses were broken.

“Vijesti” newsroom says that it managed to secure footage from a CCTV. This footage showed a man clad in black, who approached the office window of the editor in chief and placed the explosive. He immediately left and a few moments later, the explosion took place.

The newspaper criticizes the government

The Vijesti director, Zelko Ivanovic said that the bomb attack is part of the pressure which has continued for several years and it reflects the environment created by the government, where attacks against independent media go unpunished.

Mr. Ivanovic has accused the government and the prime minister, saying that they have given birth to the language of hatred and threats.

Government, special committee to hold inquiries for the attacks against media and journalists

A few hours before the bomb placed at “Vijesti”, government of Montenegro announced the creation of a special committee which would monitor the work of the state institutions in the investigations over the attacks against media and journalists.

Authorities have condemned the attacks against media. In the case of Lakic, Podgorica’s head of police Bozidar Vuksanovic has condemned the attack against the journalist. He has considered this “an indecent act” and gave assurances that police is investigating all the details.

The state must find a way for the safety of citizens

Prime minister Milo Djukanovic says that the state will find a way to guarantee the safety of the citizens.

“The state will find a way to guarantee the safety of its citizens in order for incidents such as the one of Vijesti to be stopped and for the authors of this criminal act to be caught”, says Mr. Djukanovic.

He said that: “The state is determined to prevent all of those who threaten order, stability, democratic heritage of Montenegro, freedom of media, life and wealth of people”.

Speaker of parliament, Ranko Krivokapic goes even further by saying that “this is an attack against institution that comprise on the foundation of the institution of democracy”.

Mr. Kirvokapic has a political comment: “In a state which is a EU member candidate, in a state which says that it’s a leader of integration, such events must be put to an end for the future of democratic development”.

Strong political and social reaction

European organization on human rights have condemned the beating of the Montenegrin journalist and the bomb on the newspaper.

In their declaration, OSCE, SEEMO and the branch of the International Institute of Skopje have pointed out that violence against media has recently targeted “Vijesti” newspaper and journalist who was physically attacked. They have demanded for police to investigate over the bomb attack and violence against journalist Olivera Lakic.

Other attacks against media in Montenegro

A while ago, two official vehicles of the official newspaper of  Podgorica, “Vijesti”, were entirely destroyed after they were set fire in the center of the city. The vehicles were situated a few meters away from the offices of the Agency for National Security.

Even in this case, enquiries didn’t come up with the perpetrators.

A few days ago, a journalist in Montenegro was beaten by unidentified persons. She was near her house in Podgorica, when she was hit on the head. The journalist ended up in hospital, in a non critical condition.

Violence against her followed several articles written by her for affairs involving production of cigarettes in a plant in Montenegro.

Earlier, Olivera Lakic and her family have received threats after the publication of these articles.

Cases do not stop

Violence against Mrs. Lakic came a few months after the bomb placed at the home of the Vijesti journalist, Tufik Softic. A bomb was placed at his Beranama home. 6 years ago, unidentified people beat him with baseball bats.

The authors of this violence were never found.

The bomb attack came a few days after Softic published several articles on criminal groups in the north of Montenegro.

In circumstances when violence against media, citizens launch an appeal: In this country there exist institutions which deal with this issue, but they must verify such thing. What’s more important is that they must unveil the crimes of the past which hinder the future. /ibna/