Category: Europe, Montenegro

Journalist assaulted in Montenegro

SEEMO demands investigation into attack, other recent incidents


The editor-in-chief of Montenegro's leading daily Vijesti, Mihailo Jovovic looks through a window damaged in a bomb blast overnight at the newspaper's offices in Podgorica on Dec. 27, 2013. This was the latest attack on the newspaper known for its criticism of the authorities under the country's long-term leader Milo Djukanovic. No one was hurt in the blast, which appeared to target a room used by Jovovic, shattering windows and damaging the facade of the building in the capital Podgorica, shortly before midnight. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

VIENNA, Jan 7, 2014 – The South East Europe Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), today condemned the latest physical attack on a journalist in Montenegro.

On Friday evening in the town of Niksic, an unknown assailant attacked daily newspaper Dan correspondent Lidija Nikcevic in the street, repeatedly striking her in the head with a stick causing injuries that required hospitalisation.

“We demand that authorities – including the police, the state prosecutor and the courts –immediately open an investigation into this incident,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. “Further, we call on the prime minister and the president of Montenegro, as well as the president of Parliament, to use all powers available to them to support an investigation in this case and in all other cases of attacks on and threats against journalists and media companies in Montenegro in recent years.”

He added: “This case is only the latest in a string of numerous incidents. In most cases, the perpetrators or the masterminds of the attacks have not been arrested. High-level officials in Podgorica have promised SEEMO representatives during meetings that the Montenegrin state will use its full power to stop attacks on journalists and to support investigations in unsolved cases. However, we still have no results.”

Attacks on or threats against journalists in Montenegro in past years include:

-2013: someone threw a stone at the window of commercial TV station Montena in Podgorica on Dec. 30. Four days earlier, a bomb exploded under windows of the office of daily Vijesti’s editor-in-chief, Mihailo Jovovic. The explosion damaged the building, but did not injure Jovovic or the more-than-15 other Vijesti staff members who were there at the time.

On Aug. 11, a device exploded in front of the home of Montenegrin journalist Tufik Softic in the town of Berane. Softic, a local correspondent for Vijesti, was at home with his family at the time. The incident was not the first attack on Softic: on Nov. 1, 2007, two individuals beat and injured him in front of his home. Softic at that time was working for Radio Berane and as a local correspondent for the daily Republika.

-2012: someone attacked Olivera Lakic, an investigative reporter with Vijesti, on March 12 at the door of her apartment building, hitting her several times in the head. Lakic was hospitalised following the attack. Lakic and her daughter also received serious threats one year earlier while Lakic was conducting an investigation into organised crime and tobacco.

-2011: two clearly marked Vijesti company cars were set ablaze on July 14. Another car belonging to the daily was torched on July 23 and then a fourth on Aug. 27.

-2010: Zeljko Ivanovic, one of Vijesti’s founders, and several other journalists received death threats by post in September containing statements such as: “It is over, you are next”.

-2009: the mayor of Podgorica and his son attacked Mihailo Jovovic and Boris Pejovic, a Vijesti daily photojournalist, on Aug. 6 as they documented the men’s improper parking of vehicles in the town. The mayor’s son reportedly threatened the journalists with a gun and Jovovic was treated at a hospital for a head injury.

-2008: sports journalist Mladen Stojovic was severely beaten in his apartment in Bar, a port town less than a 100 kilometres south of Podgorica on May 23. Stojovic suffered numerous fractures and required surgery. He suffered amnesia for four days. Some analysts speculated that the attack might have been connected to his reporting on the alleged fixing of soccer matches.

-2007: in September, several assailants physically attacked Vijesti founder Zeljko Ivanovic near a restaurant where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Ivanovic was injured and received medical treatment. Although the perpetrators of the attack were identified, the masterminds remain at large.

-2006: masked assailants attacked Jevrem Brkovic, a leading novelist in Montenegro, on Oct. 24. Brkovic’s driver, Srdjan Vojicic, was also shot dead in the centre of Podgorica.

-2004: the founder and editor-in-chief of Dan, Dusko Jovanovic, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Podgorica in the night between May 27 and 28 in front of his office building. The masterminds of the killing have not been identified.