Journalists face violence from criminal groups and pressure from an entrenched political leadership.
The crime desk at Vijesti, Montenegro’s most influential daily, has been empty for months. Its occupant until earlier this year, investigative reporter Olivera Lakić, was shot in the leg in front of her apartment in Podgorica in May, following the publication of articles she had written about illegal cigarette smuggling.
This was not the first time Lakić had been attacked for her work. In 2012, she was beaten at the same location after receiving numerous threats. While that attacker was eventually prosecuted, the case was only partially solved, as the perpetrator who ordered the assault was never identified. The investigation into the May shooting has so far been similarly unsatisfactory: Despite initial promises of swift action by the authorities and strong words of condemnation by the international community, a suspect has yet to be named.
Attacks on journalists are a fact of life in Montenegro. Since 2004, media freedom organizations have recorded 76 cases, of which a majority remain unsolved. A month before the attack on Lakić, a bomb exploded near the home of another investigative journalist at Vijesti, Sead Sadiković. In 2013, a blast shattered glass at the paper’s offices, clearly targeting editor in chief Mihailo Jovović. Also that year, assailants threw an explosive device into the yard of Monitor journalist Tufik Softić. And the 2004 murder of Duško Jovanović, editor in chief of the daily Dan, remains unsolved 14 years later.
Polarization, pressure, and a lopsided market