The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South and East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the alleged threats received by five staff members of the Vijesti Publishing Group in Montenegro.
According to information received by SEEMO, on 24 September 2010 Zeljko Ivanovic, one of the founders and Director of the daily Vijesti, editor-in-chief Slavoljub Scekic, editors Balsa Brkovic, Ljubisa Mitrovic and University Professor Milan Popovic received letters by post containing threats such as “It is over, you are next” (rough Eng. translation from “Gotov si, ti si sledeci”).
This is not the first time journalists from, among others, Vijesti have been exposed to threats especially since Vijesti is well known for its investigative reporting and critical coverage of the government.
On 5 August 2009 Mihailo Jovovic, editor of Vijesti, and Boris Pejovic, a photojournalist, were working on a story on wrong parking in front of a café on Bulevar Svetog Petra Cetinjskog in Podgorica, when they were physically attacked by the mayor and his son.
On 1 September 2007 Zeljko Ivanovic was physically attacked by several assailants near a restaurant, where the newspaper had celebrated its 10th anniversary. Ivanovic was injured in this attack and received medical help.
One year earlier, on 24 October 2006, Jevrem Brkovic, a leading novelist in Montenegro, was attacked by masked assailants, while his driver Srdjan Vojicic was shot dead, close to the place where Ivanovic was attacked.
Dusko Jovanovic, director of the daily Dan, was killed on the night of 27 May 2004 in front of the newspaper’s editorial office in Podgorica.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic commented: “SEEMO strongly condemns these threats and is very worried about the reoccurrence of threats against Vijesti journalists, such as Ivanovic.”
Vujovic added: “SEEMO welcomes the police investigation into this case, but nevertheless urges the authorities in Montenegro to do everything in their power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future, as it is in the interest of democratic developments in Montenegro that journalists are allowed to investigate stories free of any pressure.”