Accusing the local party leadership in Montenegro of having betrayed the national interests of the Serbs, most members of the Serbian Radical Party have left the party and founded a new right-wing organization, Srpski odbor Zavjetnici [Serbian Oath Keepers], which plans to launch a series of anti-NATO protests across the country.
Its leader, Robert Zizic, told BIRN on Tuesday that the party led by the Serbian war-crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj had changed political course in Montenegro and had abandoned the issue of Serbian rights in Montenegro to focus on “social and economic issues”.
Zizic said that disappointed Radicals had formed the Zavjetnici movement because the party leadership had began to cooperate with organizations and parties that advocate NATO membership.
The organization has announced the launch of an anti-NATO and anti-EU campaign, a return to Serbian nationalist ideology and the revival of the Radicals’ original programme, oriented around closer relations with Belgrade and Moscow.
The organization also advocates the protection of Serbian national identity and language and Cyrillic script in Montenegro.
Referring to the testament of St Peter of Cetinje, the Montenegrin bishop and ruler from the 18th century who is considered the father of the nation, the rightwingers say Russia is the only true, natural ally of Montenegro.
“St Peter of Cetinje was educated in Russia and was buried in the Russian military boots,” Zizic remarked.
He said that Zavjetnici was now the only organization in Montenegro that openly opposed membership of both the EU and NATO, announcing a rally in the capital, Podgorica, on March 24.
The establishment of the new ultra-nationalist organization in Montenegro follows a trend in Serbia, where new right-wing groups also fiercely oppose closer ties to the Western military alliance.
Pro-Russian protests in Belgrade are being led by a movement with the same name – Serbian Zavetnici, but Zizic said they were not the same organization.
“We have already made contacts with their leader, Stefan Stamenskovski, and we are ready for cooperation,” Zizic said.
Following his return to Belgrade from detention in The Hague in November 2014, after being granted temporary release on humanitarian grounds to undergo cancer treatment, Seselj plans to re-activate his nationalist party in Montenegro ahead of the next parliamentary elections.
The Party of Serbian Radicals, the party’s officially registered name in Montenegro, has barely existed as a political force in the country for years while its leader was in detention in Holland.
A significant pro-Serbian opposition force during the Nineties, the party had several MPs in the parliament and a number of representatives in the assembly of the capital, Podgorica.
But Zizic said Seselj had neglected his duties in Montenegro. “Before we left the party we sent an open letter to Seselj warning him of developments in Montenegro but he decided to turn a blind eye,” Zizic said.