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news 17 Feb 14

Montenegro Police Clash With Anti-Government  Protesters

Nine policemen were injured and 20 protesters were arrested during an anti-goverment protest in Montenegro's capital Podgorica inspired by demonstrations in neighbouring Bosnia.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

Violence erupted in Podgorica on Saturday when around 300 protesters tried to march on the government headquarters, demanding the administration’s resignation over high unemployment, poor economic conditions and corruption.

Some of the protesters threw rocks, injuring officers and smashing windows, as police fired tear gas and stun grenades to stop them reaching the government building.

The protest was organised by a Facebook group entitled ‘Revolution in Montenegro - Everyone on the Streets’.  

It called on Montenegrins to show solidarity with anti-government demonstrators in neighbouring Bosnia, which erupted in nationwide unrest earlier this month.

“We can’t pay our 500 euro electricity bills with 100 euro monthly salaries,” Podgorica protest organiser Ljubo Varagic said on Saturday.

Police accused protesters of being responsible for the violence.

“They behaved aggressively, physically attacked police officers, threw stones at them, disrupt public order and endangered the safe flow of traffic on the roads,” said a police statement.

Among the 20 people arrested were two Montenegrin journalists, Dragoslav Milacic and his son Marko, as well as several opposition activists.

The prosecutor ordered 48 hours detention for the detained protesters on Sunday morning, saying that they “did not act upon police orders to remove themselves from the streets”.  

The mayor of Podgorica, Miomir Mugosa, also announced that he will file criminal charges against people caused damage to public buildings.

On Sunday night, a group of 50 NGOs activists, university professors and journalists protested in front of the police headquarters, demanding the release of the arrested protesters and accusing the police of using excessive force during the protest.

“The provocateurs who sparked the unrest are free, and the people who were peacefully protesting were arrested,” journalist Milka Tadic Mijovic said.



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Background

The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Starts With a Bang

The Bosnian protests are the result of years of corruption, economic decay and in-fighting among ethno-political elites, but it is far from certain that they can bring real change.