Authorities urged to investigate attacks on daily

VIENNA -- The South East Europe Media Organization has expressed alarm at a recent bomb attack targeting journalists from the daily Vijesti in Podgorica, Montenegro.

The site of the explosion (Tanjug)
The site of the explosion (Tanjug)

The explosion happened on December 26 under windows of the office of Vijesti’s editor-in-chief, Mihailo Jovović, causing material damage to the offices. More than 15 staff members, including Jovović, were in the building at the time, but no one was injured, SEEMO said in a statement.

The organization called on Montenegrin authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring justice both the perpetrators and the masterminds of the attack.

“I am worried about constant threats against journalists working for the daily Vijesti,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujović said, and added:

“In the past years numerous threats and attacks have been directed against Vijesti staff members.Considering the frequency of attacks against the newspaper’s journalists and its property, I am led to believe that this daily is a direct target. I urge the police, courts and the Montenegrin state prosecutor to concentrate on this case and on all of the attacks and threats against Vijesti journalists in recent years.”

Thursday’s attack was the latest in a string of attacks on Vijesti and its employees in recent years.

On August 11, 2013 an explosive device was detonated in front of the home of Montenegrin journalist Tufik Softić, a local correspondent for Vijesti in the town of Berane. Softić was at home with his family at the time.

Olivera Lakić, an investigative reporter with Vijesti, was attacked at the door of her apartment building on March 7, 2012 by a man who hit her several times in the head. Lakić was hospitalized following the attack.

Two clearly marked Vijesti company cars were set ablaze on July 14, 2011. Another car belonging to the daily was torched on July 23 of that year and then another on August 27, 2011.

In September 2010, Željko Ivanović, one of Vijesti’s founders, and several other journalists received death threats by mail.

One year earlier, the mayor of Podgorica and his son attacked Jovović and Boris Pejović, a Vijesti photojournalist, as they documented the men’s improper parking of vehicles in the town. The mayor’s son reportedly threatened the journalists with a gun and Jovovic was treated at a hospital for a head injury.

In September 2007, several assailants physically attacked Ivanović near a restaurant where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Ivanović was injured and received medical treatment. Although the perpetrators of this attack were identified, the masterminds remain at large.

SEEMO is also aware of a number of additional incidents in recent years in which Vijesti journalists were threatened or attacked

“Given all of these criminal attacks on Vijesti journalists, as well as the number of threats against and attacks on other journalists in Montenegro, including the killing of the founder and editor-in-chief of Dan daily Dusko Jovanovic on 27 May 2004, it can be said that Montenegrin authorities have not succeeded in creating an environment in which journalists can work free from threats and attacks,” Vujović said.