Holding signs that read “stop violence”, and “for a life without fear”, hundreds of people have gathered outside the government building in the Montenegro capital to protest a wave of recent attacks on journalists in the country and demand authorities do more to investigate.
According to sources, Olivera Lakic of 49 years old was the latest victim. She works for the daily newspaper Vijesti. She was shot in the leg by an unknown assailant outside her home in Podgorica on 8 May and is currently being treated in hospital.
The protesters included Lakic’s colleagues at Vijesti, opposition politicians, civil society leaders and journalists from other media outlets.
Press Gazette quoted Srdan Kosovic, editor of Vijesti as saying that the latest shooting marks the 25th attack on journalists and their properties, including an unsuccessful attempt to kill a journalist from TV Vijesti with a car bomb.
The editor went on to say that journalists are being targeted because they write about organized crime, corruption and other major issues in Montenegro.
“Being a rare independent media in the country, Vijesti do not serve the interests of political and economic powerhouses, but are reporting objectively and are a beacon of investigative journalism in Montenegro,” he also added.
He said “political figures and other leaders need to stop targeting journalists”, adding: “There is pattern with inflammatory statements from our president-elect which legitimise the attacks on journalists, and then there is a blanket impunity for everyone involved in those attacks.”
The Montenegrin media trade union, Sindikat Medija, said in a press release: “It is clear that the attackers, with this dishonourable shot, wanted to send her [Lakic] a message to stop reporting on suspicious and criminal affairs, which she has been doing for years.”
They added: “If this case remains unsolved, journalists must seriously consider alternative ways to defend their lives and professional integrity. Montenegro must not become a synonym for a place where the free word is threatened by bullets.”
Montenegro was ranked at 103 of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by campaign group Reporters Without Borders.