Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Podgorica after crime reporter Olivera Lakic was shot and wounded in front of her home. Lakic often writes about ties between Montenegro officials and organized crime.
Representatives of the US, EU, UK and other international envoys to Montenegro slammed the shooting of investigative journalist Olivera Lakic as hundreds of protesters rallied in front of government buildings in Podgorica on Wednesday.
The protesters accuse the government of not doing enough to protect reporters in the small Adriatic country. With banners reading "Stop violence" and "For a life without crime," reporters, activists and opposition politicians urged the authorities to track down the people behind the attack on Lakic and other similar attacks in recent years.
The 49-year-old journalist works for the independent Vijesti daily and often delves into alleged connections between the top politicians, semi-illegal business and organized crime.
The Tuesday night shooting marks the second attack on Lakic. In 2012, after Lakic wrote a series of articles about illegal tobacco manufacturing in Montenegro, she was assaulted and beaten in front of her apartment building in Podgorica. While the perpetrator was tracked down and convicted to nine months in jail, organizers of the attack were never found.
President 'drew a bullseye on our foreheads'
Speaking to DW Serbian, Vijesti general manager Zeljko Ivanovic accused Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic of creating a hostile atmosphere with his public criticism of the paper.
Djukanovic "drew a bullseye on our foreheads and opened a new hunting season on our journalists and reporters," Ivanovic said.
The 56-year-old Milo Djukanovic has dominated the political scene in Montenegro for almost three decades
Authorities said they were looking for the man who shot Lakic in the leg in front of her home on Tuesday evening. The reporter is in stable condition. According to Vijesti editor Mihajlo Jovovic, Lakic saw the attacker and two other men fleeing the scene.
Read more: Montenegro 'entered the West' through NATO
Several other reporters have also suffered attacks in Montenegro, including journalist Tufik Softic who was brutally beaten and targeted by a bombing attack. Another crime reporter, Sead Sedakovic, had his car blown up last month.
EU criticized for relationship with Djukanovic
Montenegro, with its population of around 600,000, has long been dominated by its most powerful politician and current president Milo Djukanovic. While Western powers see Djukanovic as pro-European, opposition has repeatedly accused him of dictatorship and ties with organized crime. He and his allies have denied the accusations.
On Wednesday morning, EU Ambassador Avio Orav and senior American diplomat Judy Kuo visited Lakic in the local hospital. The case also prompted Harlem Desir, the freedom of the media representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to travel to Podgorica, while EU's Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn reportedly sent flowers to Lakic's hospital room.
Speaking to DW, however, Vijesti manager Zeljko Ivanovic slammed the EU's attitude on press freedom in Montenegro and the behavior of EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, toward President Djukanovic.
"Now let's see Madam Mogherini welcome Djukanovic in Brussels, give him a big hug and lots of compliments for his European values and efforts, and the progress Montenegro has achieved in EU integrations," he told DW Serbian. "As long as leaders in Brussels reduce their response to condolences to the media and hope that 'the authorities will track down perpetrators and instigators,' independent journalists will be sitting ducks and legitimate targets."
dj/kms (AP, Reuters, Beta)