Hundreds of people have protested in Montenegro after a prominent crime and corruption reporter was shot and wounded in the latest attack on journalists in the small Balkan country.
Carrying banners reading “Stop violence” or “For a life without fear”, the protesters demanded that the authorities find the assailants who opened fire on Olivera Lakic, who worked for the independent Vijesti daily.
Ms Lakic, 49, was shot in the leg outside her home in Podgorica, the capital. She remains in a local hospital following the attack.
Protesters who gathered outside the government building in Podgorica accused the authorities of doing little to solve a series of attacks on journalists in recent years.
These included another attack on Ms Lakic six years ago and a bomb blast outside another crime reporter’s home in the north last month.
Zeljko Ivanovic, general manager of the Vijesti daily, said there have been a total of 25 attacks on the paper’s journalists and offices. The daily is known for its independent and critical journalism.
“They (government) created an atmosphere in which there are state enemies and traitors,” said Mr Ivanovic.
“Can this society survive without a single free media, journalist or intellectual?”
The man who beat Ms Lakic six years ago was briefly jailed, and she had police protection for a while.
Ms Lakic has written about alleged murky businesses involving top state officials and their families. Montenegro’s long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists have faced repeated accusations of corruption and crime links, which they have denied.
Montenegro last year joined Nato and has promised to boost media freedom and the rule of law, and implement other reforms that are necessary for the country to join the European Union.
Top Montenegrin and international officials have condemned the attack on Ms Lakic and urged a swift investigation. Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland said he was “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.”