Protests in Montenegro Over Serbian Orthodox Enthronement Ceremony

Published September 6th, 2021 - 08:33 GMT

The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated on Sunday, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas.

The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.

Protesters had blocked roads since Saturday in a bid to prevent access to the small town, both the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and a symbol of sovereignty for some Montenegrins.

Montenegro broke away from Serbia in 2006, but a third of its 620,000 inhabitants identify as Serbs and some deny Montenegro should be a separate entity.

And the government that assumed power at the end of 2020 is accused by its opponents of being too close to the church.

A security perimeter had been set up by police around the 15th-century building to protect the brief enthronement ceremony.

Police fired tear gas and sound bombs to clear the protesters from the monastery.
 

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Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro.

Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.

The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.

The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas.

Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during clashes following a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in the historic city of Cetinje in Montenegro.

A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during clashes following a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in the historic city of Cetinje in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.

Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.

Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

Serbian Orthodox Church's patriarch Porfirije (R) and bishop Joanikije (L) walk through the crowd gathered in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. autocephaly.

Serbian Orthodox Church's patriarch Porfirije (R) and bishop Joanikije (L) walk through the crowd gathered in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. autocephaly. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro.
The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.
 The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.
Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas.
A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during clashes following a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in the historic city of Cetinje in Montenegro.
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
Serbian Orthodox Church's patriarch Porfirije (R) and bishop Joanikije (L) walk through the crowd gathered in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. autocephaly.
Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro.
Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.
The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
 The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state.
The decision to anoint Bishop Joanikije as the new Metropolitan of Montenegro at the historic monastery of Cetinje has aggravated ethnic tension in the tiny Balkan state. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas.
Demonstrators gather at a barricade set up to block access roads to the historic city of Cetinje during a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in Montenegro. The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro was inaugurated, arriving by helicopter under the protection of police who dispersed protesters with tear gas. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during clashes following a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in the historic city of Cetinje in Montenegro.
A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during clashes following a protest against the inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on September 5, 2021 in the historic city of Cetinje in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
Monetenegrin Orthodox Christians gather in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
Serbian Orthodox Church's patriarch Porfirije (R) and bishop Joanikije (L) walk through the crowd gathered in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. autocephaly.
Serbian Orthodox Church's patriarch Porfirije (R) and bishop Joanikije (L) walk through the crowd gathered in front of the orthodox cathedral in Podgorica, on September 4, 2021, to celebrate and show support for the enthronement of the new bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. autocephaly. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)