Members of the Montenegrin Parliament in the early hours of Dec. 27 adopted the Law on the Freedom of Religion following a series of serious incidents in which Democratic Front (DF) MPs, in an attempt to disrupt the vote on the law, attacked the MPs of the ruling coalition, hurling bottles and glasses at them, breaking the microphones and even trying to throw a tear gas grenade inside the plenary hall.
Insults and heavy curses were exchanged and only the quick intervention of the security guards stopped the incident from escalating.
Democratic Front MPs were taken to the police station and detained while the rest went back to the hall and around 2:30 a.m., adopted the law in question.
On the eve of the vote many roads throughout Montenegro were blocked in response to DF’s call to their supporters to block the streets and roads, the leaders even threatening with an outbreak of a conflict should the law be adopted.
Many people across Montenegro responded to the call and the main road connecting Bijelo Polje and Berane was blocked, along with certain parts of Podgorica, Niksic, Berane, Herceg Novi, Bar, and Budva, where the city mayor, Marko Bato Carevic, joined the protestors.
The roads in Podgorica leading to Danilovgrad, Zeta, the airport, Spuz and Zlatica, where two barricades had been set up, were unblocked late on Dec. 26. In Zeta the protestors threw rocks at the police which, issuing warnings, tried to disperse the crowd. With the help from the communal inspection the police removed the vehicles obstructing the traffic going to Zeta and Danilovgrad.
In Niksic, the citizens blocked the roundabouts and then several hundreds of them broke through the police barricade and headed for the Budos tunnel.
The police detained some 20 people, 13 of whom were arrested for breaking the law on public order and peace, one of them being Nebojsa Bulatovic, a monk from the Djurdjevi Stupovi monastery near Berane. One person was detained for attacking a police officer.
Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying that they are following the situation and that the office will prosecute anyone, no matter what function they may hold, who has broken the law.
Just before the vote, and after the incidents, Parliament Speaker Ivan Brajovic said that the main culprits should be held accountable. Montenegro, he said, will not allow anyone to disrupt the functioning of its institutions. He issued a suspension order for the Democratic Front MPs, which means they will not be allowed to participate in the parliament sittings for the next 15 days.
Commenting on the incidents of the previous night, Social Democratic Party MP Ranko Krivokapic compared the DF’s actions to that of the Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj.
"They are not showing their best selves, they are acting as those who serve another. The voters did not elect them to play poor versions of Seselj," Krivokapic said.
According to him, in a country where such things are possible, the opposition cannot gain much.