Shortly before the parliamentary elections across the whole country and local polls in several cities, all scheduled for August 30, tensions in Montenegro have begun to rise. One of the cities where the climate almost exploded was certainly Budva.
Protests that turned violent have been going on since June 17, when the mayor and the city authorities refused to hand over power after being voted out of the local assembly. After the first wave, the police stopped 54 people and arrested 41 individuals. Among them are the outgoing municipal Mayor Marko Carević and assembly president Krsto Radović.
The special state prosecution initiated confidential proceedings against Dragan Krapović, the mayor preceding Carević, who has been part of the same local government, all due to an alleged criminal conspiracy with the goal, as the prosecution stated, to create chaos and block one intersection in Budva. This is seen by the prosecution as a fight against a form of repression from the state apparatus against those who oppose it.
According to police sources, nine police officers have been injured, and damage was inflicted on police vehicles, as well as on several buildings in Budva.
At the same time, the media and citizens bear witness to police brutality.
The entire climate turned Budva, the metropolis of Montenegrin tourism, into a breeding ground for this summer’s political struggle.
Budva is one of the rare Montenegrin cities that after the elections in October 2016, with a minimal majority, fell into the hands of the coalition made up of the Democratic Montenegro party and the Democratic Front alliance, opposition parties at the state level.
This local government lasted until assembly member Stevan Džaković changed sides, becoming an independent assembly member (since assembly members and not the parties through which they were elected now own the mandates), after which, as people would say, he “flew over” to the parties supporting the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the state-level governing party.
After the June 17 protests, in front of the Budva Municipal building, private security appeared alongside police cordons, controlling the entry of Budva’s municipal building for 15 days straight. Responding to the question of an MP on why private security ended up in front of a public institution, prime minister Duško Marković (a member of DPS, just like the new Budva mayor) revealed in the Montenegrin Parliament that the newly elected president paid a Nikšić-based private security company, without providing any other details.
Tensions in Budva haven’t died down for days. They are only exacerbated by police violence against citizens, the employment of tear gas and excessive use of force.
Dozens of cases have been filmed via phones and broadcast through traditional and social media, and now even the internal police Inspectorate cannot close their eyes to the brutality of police officers beating up and stomping on citizens who aren’t resisting.
During the first days of the Budva protests, the police often targeted many people at random, including citizens and municipal officials who gathered in front of the municipal building, people strolling through the city or sitting in shops …
Many needed ambulances and hospitals, among them the former city Mayor Marko Carević, whose leg was injured.
The riots and change of government in Budva were preceded by a decision to call elections.
Political parties with no connection to the government in power, independent intellectuals and parts of the NGO sector have expressed their surprise at the decision of president Milo Đukanović (still the president of the ruling DPS party) to shorten the term for the Montenegrin Parliament and the local assemblies by two months. They believe this decision to be unconstitutional.