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Hundreds Protest Gun Attack On Journalist In Montenegro


Protesters rally to show their anger at the attack on Montenegrin journalist Olivera Lakic in Podgorica on May 9.
Protesters rally to show their anger at the attack on Montenegrin journalist Olivera Lakic in Podgorica on May 9.

Hundreds protested in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, on May 9 after a prominent crime and corruption reporter was shot, the latest attack on journalists in the small Balkan country that is seeking EU membership.

Carrying banners reading "Stop Violence," and "For A Life Without Fear," the protesters demanded authorities find the assailants who opened fire late on May 8 on Olivera Lakic, who works for the independent Vijesti daily.

Lakic was wounded in the leg during the attack outside her apartment in Podgorica and is now in stable condition in hospital.

Lakic has written about alleged murky businesses involving top state officials and their families. Montenegro's long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists has long been accused of corruption and crime links, which it has denied.

This is not the first time Lakic has been physically attacked. Six years ago, in 2012, Lakic was brutally beaten, at the same spot, in front of her apartment. She was able to identify the attacker, who was later arrested by police.

Zeljko Ivanovic, general manager of Vijesti, said there have been a total of 25 attacks on the newpaper's journalists and offices. The daily is known for its independent and critical journalism.

"[The government] created an atmosphere in which there are state enemies and traitors," said Ivanovic. "Can this society survive without a single free media, journalist, or intellectual?"

The United States and European Union expressed concern over the attack.

U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Judy Kuo said "this crime requires a swift, determined investigation to bring those responsible to justice.

"The United States calls on Montenegro to foster a safe environment for journalists to fulfill their important role," she added.

Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said on May 9 that he is "shocked and saddened" by the shooting.

"The work of journalists and free media are essential to the functioning of any democracy," he said. "Attacks on journalists are therefore also an attack on democracy."

With reporting by AP
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