In an otherwise scenic coastal city surrounded by rocky, lush terrain and buzzing with tourists, smoke and chaos consumed Budva, Montenegro as a clash between police and demonstrators ensued. On June 17, 2020, Montenegro's police and SAJ (Special Anti-Terrorist Unit) raided the government municipality building of Budva.
Their primary instruction was to disperse the "opposition" demonstrators and arrest Mayor Marko Carevic. Hundreds of demonstrators had gathered in front of the municipal building to protest President Milo Dukanovic's uncovered hush deal that tipped the municipality's majority in favor of Dukanovic's DPS Party (Democratic Party of Socialists), forcing incumbent Mayor Carevic out in the process.
In 2016, a coalition between the DF (Democratic Front) and Democratic parties had secured a majority in Budva's municipality, placing the oversight of Montenegro's thriving tourist city under the control of Dukanovic's most vociferous political opponents. Carevic, elected as mayor from the DF party, saw his short-lived tenure as mayor come to an abrupt end after Dukanovic bribed a DF Party councilor to switch parties.
When it came time to transfer power to Nikola Divanovic, Dukanovic's newly appointed mayor of Budva, Carevic, refused to step down, calling it an unfair, undemocratic political selection process. Carevic's refusal led Dukanovic to order the police and SAJ to forcefully take him down, inciting demonstrators across Budva to stand in front of the municipality building in solidarity with Carevic. As police started making their arrests, what started as a peaceful protest and stand-down escalated to an abhorrent example of police brutality.
Among the arrested were: Carevic, Manager Milo Bozovic, Secretary of Investments Mladen Mikijelj, Chief of Cabinet Nikola Jovanovic, and Advisor Dorde Vujovic. There were dozens more injured, experiencing acts of overt overuse of force. An officer kneeled on Mikijelj's neck despite his being in handcuffs and showing no signs of resistance. Vujovic was thrown down cement stairs and had to be hospitalized for serious spine injuries.
The chaos in Budva did not end there. Eight days following the raid on the municipality, police threw tear gas at Serbian children who were at basketball practice.
However, the incidences of police brutality filmed in Budva are far from being isolated events. They are a part of a longstanding history of Dukanovic forcefully targeting, silencing, and intimidating his political opponents, whom he has collectively and strategically termed "pro-Serb and Russian" forces. Dukanovic's terror has turned to outright political oppression and in many instances, even ethnic and religious discrimination and persecution of Serbs.
In 2015, a few months before Montenegro's general elections, thousands of demonstrators peacefully assembled in the capitol of Podgorica, demanding Dukanovic's resignation from politics. After nearly thirty years in "public service," Dukanovic had been accused of corruption, including voter fraud, organized crime, nepotism, cronyism, and kleptocracy. Dukanovic was even named 2015's "Man of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption" by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Then, like now, the Montenegrin police and SAJ unduly arrested and beat demonstrators in hopes of dispersing them. Since then, Montenegrin watchdog...