Protesters are angry at the clash between new Montenegrin clergy and police

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Montenegro update

In the conflict triggered by the inauguration of the new leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Balkans, riot police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters in the old capital of Montenegro.

The riots began on Saturday near the monastery. Metropolitan Joanikiye II, the head of the Black Mountain Orthodox Church, will be inaugurated in the monastery, which is part of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Montenegro’s National Television stated that the protesters threw stones at the police and set fire to tires, shouting: “This is Montenegro!” “This is not Serbia!”

The ceremony held in the ancient town of Cetinje on Sunday exposed the religious, ethnic and geopolitical tensions in Montenegro. Montenegro declared independence from neighboring Serbia in 2006 but did not separate the churches of the two countries.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, which publicly helped overthrow the pro-Western government in Montenegro last year, is widely regarded as a symbol of Serbian influence.

According to the Associated Press, thousands of pro-Serbian protesters took to the streets of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, on Saturday. Many of them came by bus from Serbia, although they could not be independently verified. About one third of Montenegro’s population of 620,000 are Serbs.

Armed security personnel escorted Serbian Patriarch Porfirije and Metropolitan Joanikije II in Cetinje, Montenegro © Stevo Vasiljevic / Reuters

Joanikije’s successor died after contracting the coronavirus, and the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Porfirije attended his enthronement ceremony. According to the Associated Press, Joanikiye said after Sunday’s ceremony: “The divisions are man-made, and we have done our best to help eliminate them, but it will take a lot of time.”

Government of Montenegro The political parties led by Zdravko Krivokapic include staunch pro-Serbia and pro-Russian parties.

Krivokapić described the Cetinje protests as “terrorist acts” and accused the Socialist Democratic Party of ruling the country for decades before losing in last year’s elections and being behind it.

The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, who is affiliated with DPS, visited Cetinje this weekend and opposed his enthronement. “The Montenegrin government ensures the violent enthronement of the metropolis [Joanikije] It violates the wishes of the vast majority of Cetinje citizens and a large number of Montenegrin citizens,” Zhukanovic said on Sunday.

“This is the end of the respect that the Serbian Orthodox Church has so far enjoyed in the Montenegrin capital and in our country,” he added.

Milos Damjanovic, head of research and analysis at BIRN Consulting in Belgrade, said the tension was politically motivated.

“This violent protest is to mobilize DPS voters and supporters around the Montenegrin nationalist narrative. Cetinje will hold local elections before the end of the year… This protest is a useful demonstration of force for DPS.”

He added: “The previous regime has shown the new regime the chaos it can release when it chooses.”

Serbian President Alexander Vucic also stated that he suspected that the outbreak was politically motivated. Vucic said: “There is a clear hatred for everyone who belongs to a country outside Montenegro.” “This hatred is caused by the actions of Montenegrin politicians.”

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