Budva Political Crises: What's Going on in the Montenegrin Tourism Capital?

By , 28 Jun 2020, 21:31 PM Politics
Budva Political Crises: What's Going on in the Montenegrin Tourism Capital? Police in front of Municipality of Budva on the Occasion of Municipal Assembly Session, June 27, Source: Vijesti Online

June 28, 2020 - The fact that the main tourist season will this year bypass Montenegro's tourism capital is not the only thing currently on the minds of the citizens of Budva and indeed the rest of Montenegro. In one of only three opposition municipalities in Montenegro, political conflicts have been ongoing for a month now, and have partly spilled over into the streets of Budva. The Montenegrin police are actively involved in the entire process.

A brief summary would not do justice to the complexity of the situation, so here we will provide you an overview of the most important events that have marked the beginning of a "hot political summer" in Montenegro.

budva logo Budva Municipality logo

April 30: The Crnogorska party submits to the Municipality of Budva's parliamentary service an initiative for the removal of the Mayor of Budva, Marko Bato Carević.

Sixteen councilors sign the proposal, three from Crnogorska, 11 from the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), one from the Social Democrats (SD), and independent councilor Stevan Džaković.

May 27: Members of the Democratic Front (DF) in Budva file a criminal complaint against an alleged organized criminal group that, as they claim, agreed to replace the government in Budva, with the million-dollar corruption of independent councilor Stevan Džaković. The criminal charges were filed with the Special State Prosecutor's Office and the Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnić.

The report addresses an unidentified person, who is said to be influential in the DPS, "associated with high-level crime and a bank in Montenegro", and an organizer of a criminal organization. In the application, the DF mentioned many persons from the political, public, and business milieu.

May 28: All 12 councilors of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Budva come to the local parliament (scheduled for June 30) and vote for the removal of Mayor Marko Carević and the President of the Municipal Assembly Krsto Radović.

At the Ministry of Finance's request, the Commercial Court issues a temporary measure blocking all accounts of the Municipality of Budva to the tune of 29.3 million euros, the amount the German-Austrian company WTE / EVN withdrew from the state account in December 2019 by activating the guarantee. The Municipality of Budva claims that this is a state guarantee, given by the Government of Montenegro for a wastewater project. The contract defines that the local government is not obliged to pay the sum to the state in case of activation of the guarantee.

May 29: The Democratic Front (DF) in Budva announces that the DPS, together with Crnogorska and independent councilor Stevan Džaković, has a plan to "brutally violate the law, statute, and rules of procedure and hold a parallel quasi-session of the Budva municipal assembly to try to remove current government ".

"The freeze on all accounts of the Municipality of Budva best proves this is a joint venture of state bodies, primarily the Ministry of Finance and the Commercial Court, supporting DPS to undo all positive effects of the local fight with organized crime and corruption, "said the DF.

Police officers secure the local parliament session in civilian clothes, causing esentment among the Democrats and the DF members. After the end of the meeting, the police remove independent councilor Stevan Džaković from the improvised hall, waiting for the increasingly disaffected crowd gathered in protest against the violation of the electoral will.

May 30: A session of the local parliament is held in Budva, at which the dismissal of the President of the Municipality, Marko Bato Carević, is discussed. The member of the Democrats of the Municipal Assembly (MA) of Budva, Dragan Krapović, stated that the law had been clear and that the deadline for voting on the removal of Carević had expired.

The next session is scheduled for June 29.

June 3: The Municipal Assembly of Budva does not decide on the dismissal of its President, Krsto Radović, after the legal deadline of 30 days for a declaration expires at midnight.

The Chairman, Gojko Liješević (Democratic Montenegro), schedules the continuation of the session for June 29.

budva carevic and radovic cdm.me

Krsto Radović and Marko Bato Carević, Source: cdm.me

June 5: Seventeen councilors of Budva's Assembly address the Ministry of Public Administration and ask for their opinion on the occasion of two sessions of the local parliament in Budva, held to discuss initiatives for dismissal of Mayor Marko Carević and President of the Municipal Assembly of Budva Krsto Radović, states the DPS.

June 6: The Municipal Board of DPS Budva files a complaint against the responsible persons in the Municipality for violating the law, the Statute and the Rules of Procedure of the Municipal Assembly of Budva, states the President of the Budva Coard of DPS Predrag Jelušić.

June 7: The Budva Committee of Democratic Montenegro announces that it is preparing criminal charges against the President of the DPS committee in the city, Predrag Jelušić, and "other people responsible for the Port of Budva." They are also preparing criminal charges for several other cases, which, as they state, involve Public Enterprise Morsko Dobro and Jelušić as its Director.

The Democrats react to Jelušić's statement that the DPS in Budva was filing charges against those responsible in that Municipality, adding that the DPS "knew very well" that the President of the Budva municipal assembly, Krsto Radović, had complied with all legal deadlines and statutory and business obligations.

The party announces criminal charges against "all those responsible and involved in corruption and the buying of support of councilor Džaković, as well as for false reporting."

June 8: The Assembly Service of the Municipal Assembly of Budva receives a request to convene a session by the newly formed majority in the local parliament, consisting of DPS, SD, Crnogorska, and independent councilor Stevan Džaković. Sixteen councilors sign the request, with 11 signatures needed for its adoption.

June 9: The Ministry of Public Administration assesses that the President of the Municipal Assembly of Budva, Krsto Radović, acted contrary to the provisions of the Law on Local Self-Government and the Statute of the Municipality because he did not allow councilors to vote on the proposals submitted.

The Mayor of Budva, Marko Carević, requests an urgent meeting with Minister of Finance, Darko Radunović, to solve the problem of the million-dollar freeze on the city treasury.

June 11: A new majority in the Municipal Assembly of Budva fires Mayor Marko Carević and President of the Municipal Assembly Krsto Radović. They hold a session in the tourist resort Slovenska Plaža. All 17 councilors of the new majority, consisting of councilors from DPS, SD, Crnogorska, and independent councilor Stevan Džaković, vote for the removal of Carevic and Radovic. Vladimir Bulatović (Crnogorska) is appointed acting President of the Municipality until the election of a new president, and DPS councilor Snežana Kuč is appointed interim President of the Municipal Assembly.

June 16: "Regarding my departure from the position of Mayor of Budva, several legal problems are intertwined. The Constitution of Montenegro states that the will of the citizens is guaranteed. I came to power by the will of the citizens, and now they want to remove me with an election law that violates Montenegro's Constitution. The method of personal mandates is an old tactic of the DPS that has been corrupting councilors for decades and changing the citizens' electoral will by buying them," said the dismissed mayor of Budva, Bato Carević.

The Special State Prosecutor's office investigates the allegations of criminal charges against the officials of the Municipal Assembly of Budva and the Mayor, the Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnić states at a press conference. He explains that they are acting on corroborating reports from Budva politicians and a statement released by one non-governmental organization.

Carević files criminal charges against three inspectors of the Administrative Inspection, as well as against DPS board member Snezana Kuč and the leader of the Budva Board from Crnogorska, Vladimir Bulatovic, for "abuse of official position, creation of a criminal organization for the violent takeover of power and intrusion into official premises."

Officials of the Administrative Inspection of the Ministry of Public Administration are prevented from filing a decision of the new parliamentary majority in the governmental service of the Municipality of Budva, by which Carević and Radović were dismissed, after which the inspectors ask for police assistance.

June 17: Budva Mayor Marko Carević, his son and brother, Budva Municipal Assembly President Krsto Radović, and five other associates are arrested for failing to allow police to bring administrative inspectors into the municipal building.

The Manager of the Municipality of Budva, Milo Božović, the Secretary for Investments, Mladen Mikijelj, the Head of Carević's cabinet, Nikola Jovanović, and Carević's Advisor, Đordje Vujović, are also arrested.

Municipal officials and citizens gather early that morning outside the Municipality of Budva, as a dozen police vans arrive in Budva. The entire city is under police siege, according to Vijesti.

budva citizens june 17Citizens of Budva Offering  Food to Police, Source: RTCG

On June 16, the Administrative Inspection of the Ministry of Public Administration issues a decision ordering that the new majority be granted access to the Municipality and documents. Carević and Radović do not recognize those decisions. They claim that they are illegal and do not allow the newly elected officials to enter the Municipal building and have access to documents. They state that the political crisis in Budva has come after councilor Stevan Džaković, who was on the list of the Democratic Front, decided to support the opposition, which in that Municipality consists of the Democratic Party of Socialists and the Montenegrin Party. The sacked leadership claims that this is political corruption.

The Vijesti portal states that the police applied an inappropriate degree of force and tear gas against the municipal officials and citizens and that the windows on the municipal building were broken. The most significant reastions from the media were caused by the recording of the police's actions towards the former Secretary for Investments of the Municipality of Budva, Mladen Mikijelj.

Carević, Radović, and other officials of the Municipality of Budva are released later in the afternoon. Radović states that the entire public could see that Montenegro does not have a Constitution and that legislation and the rule of law have been suspended and subordinated to the greatest dictator Milo Đukanović.

The Vice President of the Democrats and councilor Dragan Krapović calls on the citizens to remain persistent and stay, and calls on representatives of all parties to come to Budva. As he states, democracy is being defended there.

He says that the municipal officials in Risan hospital were found to have injuries inflicted on them by the police during the detention, but that they were generally well.

Krapović sends a message to the international community to take into account of what is happening in Montenegro. "Do not keep silent on the unpleasant scenes of Milo Đukanović's military junta," he said.

June 20: There are almost eight million euros in the account of the Municipality of Budva, but the money cannot be used as long as the temporary measure of the Commercial Court is in force at the end of May at the request of the Ministry of Finance. However, during the political crisis, when there are "two authorities" in the city, which have started a dialogue to overcome tensions and calm passions, resolving the account blockade will have to be a priority. During the talks, political representatives are forbidden to make any political statements and thus raise tensions, and prevent an agreement. The Commercial Court has not yet ruled on the objection lodged by Marko Carević's administration against the interim measure, blocking bank accounts.

June 22: Snezana Kuč schedules consultations with the presidents of the committee groups on Thursday, June 25, on the occasion of the next session of the parliament, on the current political situation.

In the invitation to the councilors' groups, it is stated that the topic of the meeting is consultations related to the work at the next session of the Municipal Assembly of Budva and the conversation regarding the current political situation.

The leader of Montenegro, Vladimir Bulatović, leaves the building of the Municipality of Budva, where he talks with the DPS councilor Snežana Kuč and President of the Municipality, Marko Carević. The meeting ends without an agreement. The Municipal building meeting is briefly attended by the President of the Municipal Assembly, Krsto Radović.

budva 22 june rtvbd Civic Protests in Budva, Source RTV BN

On that same day, deputies and councilors of Democratic Montenegro break through the cordon of private security in the Municipal Assembly (MA) of Budva, who had been hired the day before by the acting President of the Municipality, Vladimir Bulatović.

The President of the Municipal Assembly of Budva, Krsto Radović, invites those who want to resolve the political situation in Budva to come to the Municipal building. He tells people gathered in front of the Municipal building that the leader of Montenegro, Vladimir Bulatović, "confirmed that he had ordered" his arrest and that of President of the Municipality, Marko Carević. Radović calls on those gathered to remain peaceful and not to attack the police.

Marko Carević, Krsto Radović, leader of the Democrats, Aleksa Bečić with eight deputies, as well as four deputies of the Democratic Front, Slaven Radunović, Marina Jocić, Milun Zogović, and Jovan Vucurović, are in the building of the Municipality, as well as municipal officials and councilors, and police inspectors.

June 23: Carević and Radović state that they have received word from the police that no one will be able to enter the building of the Municipality of Budva, and ask the gathered citizens to disperse.

Representatives of the local government and representatives appointed by the new majority of councilors a few days earlier as acting presidents of the Municipality and the President of the municipal assembly, will not be able to enter the municipal building. Carević asks the police to provide him with a document stating that the Municipality was closed.

The legal representative of the Municipality of Budva, Vladan Bojić, says that something that unforeseen had happened that day, that the Municipality had been turned into a police station.

"For the first time, the police are closing down the local government and unconstitutionally preventing workers from coming to their jobs. It is a sure way to ruin an unreasonable decision that is direct to the detriment of citizens. This is a violation of the Constitution because workers are forbidden to come to work." said Carević.

The Municipality of Budva is not provided with official information based on which the police forbid everyone to enter, which was also confirmed by Vladimir Bulatović, who tells Vijesti that he has not received any document.

June 24: On the occasion of the invitation of the DPS and Montenegro for mediation in Budva, the EU Delegation to Montenegro tells "Vijesti" that they have nothing to add to the statement of the EC spokesperson Anna Pisonero Hernandez.

She states that the EU welcomes the dialogue in Budva and calls on all political actors to show respect for the rule of law and democratic principles and to show political maturity to find a sustainable solution to the current situation through dialogue and mutual respect.

The leader of Crnogorska, Vladimir Bulatović, sends a letter to the security service asking security to prevent all employees from entering the building of the Municipality of Budva, except those listed. Bulatović, who has signed as acting President of the Municipality of Budva, bans councilors from entering until further notice.

Economic crime inspectors enter the building of the Municipality of Budva and begin control of the members of the security.

In Budva, police deploy tear gas after a warning is issued to citizens who have surrounded the police station to disperse.

budva june 24

Special Police Forces in Budva, June 24, Source: Vijesti Online

After being arrested earlier that day, Carević and Radović, as well as DF councilors Đorđije Vujović and Đordje Pribilović, and SNP councilor Krsto Radjenović are released. Among those detained are the Vice President and councilor of the Democrats, Dragan Krapović, the Head of Carević's Cabinet, Nikola Jovanović, and the Manager of the Municipality, Milo Božović. Not far from the police station, famous boxer Nikola Sjekloća is also arrested. The Head of the Protection and Rescue Service, Dragan Božović, and the Head of the Utilities Collection Service, Ninoslav Kaludjerović,  are also detained.

After 5.30 pm, tear gas is thrown outside elementary school "Stefan Mitrov Ljubiša", and then at the crossroads, where riots break out. Stones are thrown at the police station, and tear gas is thrown into the hall of the Sports Center during children's training.

Members of the Special Police Units come to the official parking lot of the Municipality of Budva before and after citizens have gathered because the end of working hours was approaching. They await the departure of acting presidents of the Municipality and the Municipal Assembly, Vladimir Bulatović and Snežana Kuč, from the Municipality premises.

June 27: A new majority of councilors in the Municipal Assembly of Budva elect DPS MP Nikola Divanović as the President of the Municipality of Budva.

Andjela Ivanović (Crnogorska) is elected President of the Budva municipal assembly by 17 councilors - 12 DPS councilors, three Crnogorska's councilors, one Social Democrat (SD) councilor, and Stevan Džaković, an independent councilor.

The decision is not recognized by a coalition of the Democratic Front (DF), Democratic Montenegro, the Civic Movement URA, the Socialist People's Party (SNP), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The session is marked by chaos, including physical clashes between political opponents, which lead to five opposition councilors being taken to the police. Vijesti states that DF councilor Milan Šoljaga tried to enter the session, but private security did not allow him to do so.

The media are not allowed to attend the Municipal Assembly of Budva session at which Divanović and Ivanović are elected. However, the rules of procedure of the local government body prescribe that the meetings are public and must be open to journalists.

budva assembly meeting 27 june


Police Forces in front of the Municipality of Budva, June 27, Source: Vijesti Online

The Media Union of Montenegro (SMCG) strongly condemned the actions of the private security team that was engaged in the building of the Municipal Assembly of Budva, which during the session of the local parliament forcibly and inappropriately expell Pobjeda journalist Đurđica Ćorić from the municipal premises.

The Budva Board of the Democratic Front (DF) states that Nikola Divanovic (DPS) is the self-proclaimed President of the Municipality of Budva and that the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in Budva have shown the kind of democracy from the golden age of the regime of former Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu.

DPS MP Nikola Divanović claims that he is the legitimate President of the Municipality of Budva because the parliamentary majority had voted for him. He says that he will start working on solving the problem on Monday, promising that there will be no revanchism and that everyone who wants to work has a place in his team.

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