CENTINJE: Protestors trying to block the inauguration of a new Serbian Orthodox archbishop clashed with the police. Police fired tear gas at the crowd. In response, crows started stone pelting at police and took down security fences of the monastery in Cetinje.
According to local media, Joanikije got crowned as the new archbishop of the Orthodox Church despite the protests happening. Montenegro broke away from Serbia in 2006. Yet, the Serbian Orthodox Church is the largest religious institution in Montenegro.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has always been a matter of conflict in Montenegro. President Milo Djukanovis says that the Church neglects the independence of Montenegro and is a tool to bring Montenegro back under Serbia’s control. The president asked people to disrupt the ceremony of Joanikije II.
Saturday, protestors in large numbers started barricading the way to Cetinje, where the Orthodox Church is situated. More severe protests broke out today. Some protestors fired gunshots, threw bottles and stones at police.
“We’re on the barricades because we’re fed up with Belgrade denying our nation, and telling us what is our religious rights,” protestor Andjela Ivanovic told Reuters news agency. “
There is a deep divide in Montenegro over its ties with Serbia. Around 30% of Montenegrins consider themselves Serbs. Last year the president tried to push legislation that would have allowed the state to claim Church as state property but he simply couldn’t. The Church began campaigning for the opposition party which resulted in the defeat of the President’s DSP(Democratic Party of Socialists) for the first time in three decades.