The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the brutal physical attack on Olivera Lakic, an investigative reporter with the Podgorica-based daily Vijesti. When she opened the door of her apartment building, at 9:30 PM on Mar. 7, 2012, a man approached Lakic and hit her several times in the head. The journalist was hospitalised. Her life is not in danger. The perpetrator escaped.
This was not the first time that Lakic had been threatened. In February 2011, she reported on illegal labelling of tobacco products. Both she and her family received threats. Two men are currently on trial for threatening her.
While SEEMO applauds the fact that the director of the Montenegrin police, Bozidar Vuksanovic, has taken a personal interest in the case, and arrived on the scene of the attack, the organisation recalls that this is not the first attack against Vijesti. Most previous cases remain unsolved.
As SEEMO wrote in July and August 2011, four clearly marked cars belonging to Vijesti were set ablaze, in three separate attacks. The perpetrators have not been found.
On Sep. 24, 2010, Zeljko Ivanovic, one of Vijesti’s founders, and several other journalists, received death threats by mail.
On Aug. 5, 2009, Mihailo Jovovic, editor of Vijesti, and Boris Pejovic, a photojournalist, were physically attacked by the mayor of Podgorica and his son while documenting their alleged illegal parking in town. The mayor’s son used his gun to threaten the journalist. Jovovic was treated in hospital for a head injury.
On Sep. 1, 2007, Zeljko Ivanovic was physically attacked by several assailants near a restaurant, where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Ivanovic was injured and received medical treatment. Although the perpetrators of this attack were found, the masterminds remain at large.
Despite the prompt condemnations of the previous attacks, Montenegrin authorities have not been effective in creating an environment in which journalists can work free from pressure.
“Considering the frequency of attacks against Vijesti journalists and property, I am led to believe that this daily is a direct target,” said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. “I call on the authorities to find the person who beat Olivera Lakic as well as all those responsible for the previous attacks. Montenegro aspires to join the European Union. In a democracy, journalists should not be beaten or threatened, and any perpetrators should be found and prosecuted.