Law enforcement in Montenegro have fired tear gas at protesters like the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country arrived by helicopter for his inauguration.
The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has exacerbated ethnic tensions in the small Balkan state.
Protesters had blocked roads since Saturday in an attempt to avoid access to the small city, both the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and a symbol of sovereignty for some Montenegrins.
Montenegro broke away from Serbia in 2006, only a third of the 620,000 inhabitants identify as Serbs and some deny Montenegro should be a separate entity. Opponents accuse the SPC of serve the interests of Belgrade.
According to images released by the SPC, Joanikije was dropped off by helicopter on the lawn of the monastery and hastened in below the sound of to call.
There had been a security perimeter set up by the police around the 15th-century building to protect the brief enthronement ceremony, and the police fired tear gas and sound bombs to clear the demonstrators of the monastery.
Metropolitan Joanikije was named after him new post in may, after the death of his predecessor Metropolitan Amfilohije of Covid-19.
thousands of protesters had on Saturday used auto’s of piled up up rocks to block roads, with many spent the night around fire to keep warm.
“I’m Here To” show my darling for the country,” said one protester, Saska Brajovic, 50. “We don’t ask for something of anyone otherwise, but we are turned away by the occupying Serbian church. We are here to defend our dignity.”
The protesters are supported by the Democratic Party party of socialists of President Milo ukanovic, die neighboring Serbia and the SPC. has accused of “the firing of Montenegro and Montenegrins, as well as the integrity” of his country.
Djukanovic was eager to curb the influence of the SPC in Montenegro and build up an independent Orthodox Church, but are party lost elections in August 2020 and the current government led by the prime minister, Zdravko Krivokapić, has accused him of deliberately fueling recent tensions for political purposes.
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