Montenegrin Prosecutor’s Office detained opposition leaders for 24 hours

The Office notes that 19 opposition deputies detained the day before were released.

Montenegrin Prosecutor’s Office detained Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, leaders of the opposition “Democratic Front,” for 24 hours. Deputy Milun Zogovic was detained along with them, reported the press service of the agency.

Zogovic is charged with assaulting an official in the performance of his duties. Mandic and Knezevic are charged with obstructing an official in the performance of his duties. The Prosecutor’s Office thus qualified the mass scuffle at the Montenegrin Parliament building on the night of Friday in connection with the adoption of the law on religious freedom. The opponents are accused of assaulting the Speaker of the Parliament, Ivan Brajovic.

It is reported that the other 19 opposition deputies detained the day before were released.

On Friday night, the Parliament of Montenegro adopted the Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Legal Status of Religious Communities by a majority vote, amidst massive protests across the country. Forty-five deputies out of 45 present voted in support of the law infringing on the interests of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC). There were no objections or abstentions, as the document was considered after all opposition deputies had been detained by the police.

Mass protests against the adoption of the law on religious freedom took place in a number of cities in Montenegro. According to TASS, leader of the Montenegrin opposition Andrija Mandic, the protesters have blocked most cities in the country. The protests are taking place in the cities of Beran, Bijelo Polje, Plevlja, Podgorica, Bar, Budva, Kotor and Niksic. Over 55 people, including opposition deputies, have been detained.

Earlier, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic accused the Serbian Orthodox Church of trying to preserve the religious monopoly in the country and said that he would seek autocephaly for the “Montenegrin Church” following the example of Ukraine. As part of the creation of the new church, the Montenegrin Cabinet of Ministers, through parliament, passed the Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Legal Status of Religious Communities, which provides for the seizure of church property from the Serbian Orthodox Church. This includes more than 650 shrines, including the Ostrog Monastery, which is widely known in the Orthodox world.

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