Montenegro Journalist Attacked After Exposing Fraud

Freedom House condemns the recent attack on Vijesti daily newspaper writer Olivera Lakic, who was beaten by an unknown assailant outside of her apartment in Podgorica, Montenegro on March 7 – likely in retaliation for a series of articles she wrote alleging a local factory committed fraud. Lakic suffered a concussion and was briefly hospitalized.  Authorities must follow through on their commitment to investigate the attack and previous threats against Lakic and other Vijesti writers in an effort to ensure their safety.  After publishing a series of articles in 2011 alleging that a factory producing cigarettes with counterfeit branding engaged in fraud, Lakic and other reporters faced threats. In August 2011, several vehicles owned by the newspaper were burned. In addition, two men currently are facing trial for threatening Lakic and her family in February 2011.

Montenegro is rated Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2011. While freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution and typically respected in practice, a series of politically motivated attacks against journalists in recent years is cause for concern. In September 2007, Vijesti cofounder Zeljko Ivanovic was assaulted by two men outside of a restaurant where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Two hooded assailants attacked Radio Berane journalist Tufik Softic outside of his home in November 2007. In August 2009, an editor and photojournalist from Vijesti were allegedly attacked by the mayor and his son after photographing his illegally parked car. In September 2010, five Vijesti staffers, including cofounder Ivanovic, received death threats via mail.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2011: Montenegro
Freedom of the Press 2011: Montenegro