August 29, 2020 - Partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Reaction Mechanism (MFRR), and media freedom organizations have expressed concern over journalists' defamation in Montenegro on the Internet.
They especially highlighted the campaign of intimidation towards two Vijesti journalists - Siniša Luković and Vuk Lajović, and Dražen Živković, editor of the Borba portal.
"In mid-August, the online platform Udar published a list of people they called 'collaborators of the Serbian secret services.' Three journalists were named: Sinisa Lukovic and Vuk Lajovic from the daily Vijesti, and Drazen Zivkovic from the borba.me website. It is a clear attempt to target these journalists and the influence of their reporting on corruption and power abuse. The coup hides the authors and sources of their information and does not provide any independently verifiable evidence for the allegations listed. Without the necessary evidence, Lukovic, Lajovic, and Zivkovic their classification can only be seen as an attempt to restrict their work and discourage others from continuing their work," the MFRR said.
The MFRR and partners called on the Montenegrin authorities to investigate the Udar website and urgently remove the names of journalists from the list. It points out that state authorities should also launch an investigation into Udar's activities to ensure their compliance with media transparency laws.
"As the country approaches the parliamentary elections on August 30, it is necessary to allow reporters to work freely and independently. For this reason, the MFRR urges the Montenegrin government to support media freedom and allow journalists to do their job without fear of attack or threat." concludes in a statement signed by:
European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Observatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South-East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO)