Berlin, September 9, 2021 – Montenegro authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent attack on a crew for the privately owned broadcaster N1 TV, and ensure that journalists can cover protests safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On September 5, a group of protesters in Cetinje, west of Podgorica, the capital, harassed and assaulted N1 TV reporter Aleksandra Tolj Ružić and camera operator Amar Pozdelj, according to a report and footage published by N1 TV and Ružić, who spoke with CPJ via email.
Demonstrators shouted and spat at the journalists, threw stones at them, and attempted to stop them from broadcasting, according to those sources. Ružić told CPJ that she and Pozdelj were able to escape the scene without injuries.
“Montengrin authorities must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on N1 TV reporter Aleksandra Tolj Ružić and camera operator Amar Pozdelj, and hold those responsible to account,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities must ensure that members of the press can safely cover events of public interest without fear that they will be harassed and assaulted.”
The journalists were covering a protest against the inauguration of the head of the Serbian church in Montenegro by people angered over alleged Serbian influence in the country, according to reports.
First, a group of demonstrators spat at Ružić and Pozdelj and shouted at them to stop recording, according to Ružić and those reports by N1 TV. When the journalists walked away from the scene, protesters threw rocks and other projectiles at them, and a group of eight to 10 demonstrators surrounded the crew while they were broadcasting, demanded to know why they were filming, and ordered Ružić to stop recording and delete their footage, according to those sources. The journalists refused to comply and walked away from the scene, as seen in the N1 TV footage.
One protester attempted to knock Ružić’s phone out of her hand, she told CPJ.
Ružić said that the Montenegro prosecutor’s office had opened an initial investigation into the attack. CPJ emailed that office for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.