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The demonstrators placed a blockade on the main road before the planned new leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church took office.

Protesters clashed with riot police in the old capital of Montenegro, setting up a blockade before the new leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the small Balkan country took office.

The planned ceremony in Cetinje on Sunday angered opponents of the Serbian Church in Montenegro, which declared independence from neighboring Serbia in 2006. Since then, Montenegrin people who support independence have been advocating for the establishment of a recognized Orthodox church separate from the Serbian church.

For the protesters, the upcoming inauguration of Joanikiye Metropolis is seen as the spreading influence of Serbia-Serbia is trying to occupy this small Adriatic country or draw it into The so-called “Serbian World”.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters confronted the police in Cetinje and briefly demolished some protective metal fences around the monastery where the inauguration was scheduled.

Montenegro’s national RTCG television said that the protesters broke through the police blockade at the entrance to Cetinje and threw stones at them, shouting “This is Montenegro!” “This is not Serbia!”

Protesters waved the Montenegrin red flag of a two-headed eagle, and then set up roadblocks with trash cans, car tires and large rocks to prevent church and state dignitaries from attending the inauguration.

In Cetinje, Montenegro, protesting against Bishop Joanikiye’s accession to the throne, demonstrators set up roadblocks to block the road [Stevo Vasiljevic/REUTERS]

Al Jazeera’s Milika Marinovic reported from Cetinje that protesters near a roundabout aimed at the police with stones and bottles, and the police responded with “some chemicals, possibly tear gas or pepper spray.” .

“them [protesters] Don’t plan to leave… [On the blocked road] On the road to Podgorica, the protesters asked women to stand in front of the tire barricade as a human wall for as long as possible,” Marinovic said.

Montenegrin people still have serious differences in their country’s relations with Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is the country’s main religious institution. Approximately 30% of the 620,000 people in Montenegro consider themselves Serbs.

Although the mayor of Cetinje and the opposition parties of the government and the church have called for the inauguration to be cancelled due to the deterioration of the security situation, the church said it will hold the inauguration at Marinovic Cetinje Monastery at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning.

Demonstrators dismantled police fences during a protest in Cetinje, Montenegro against Bishop Joanikiye’s accession to the throne [Stevo Vasiljevic/REUTERS]

The Montenegrin authorities urged to remain calm during the weekend ceremonies, starting with the arrival of the Serbian Orthodox leader Pafiriya on Saturday night in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.

Porfirije will participate in the inauguration of Joanikije, whose predecessor was Amfilohije, the leader of the Montenegrin church, who died in October after contracting COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Montenegro’s Interior Minister Sergei Sekulovic stated that although he will do everything he can to make the inauguration proceed peacefully, The police cannot guarantee They will be able to provide citizens with absolute security in Cetinje.

The Serbian Orthodox Church played a key role in last year’s demonstrations, helping to overthrow Montenegro’s long-ruling pro-Western government. The new government now includes staunch pro-Serbia and pro-Russian parties.

The previous authorities in Montenegro led the country to independence from Serbia and ignored Russia’s accession to NATO in 2017. Montenegro is also seeking to become a member of the European Union.



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