Niksic Montenegro (Reuters) – About 100 Serb nationalists rallied in front of an Orthodox church in Montenegro on Monday in a rare European display of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.
“Good luck, Vladimir, you are the guardian of Orthodoxy!” shouted protest leader Veselin Djokovic. “We hope that you will bring Kosovo back into our arms,” he continued, referring to the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.
Montenegro’s politics have been long marked by divisions between those who identify as Montenegrins and pro-Russia Serbs who opposed the tiny Adriatic country’s independence from a former state union with Serbia and prefer stronger ties with Serbia and Russia.
Protesters waved Russian flags and carried a huge banner reading “Serbs in Montenegro, Russians in Ukraine”. They chanted “Russia” and “Donbas” – referring to a Russian-backed breakaway region of Ukraine – as church bells rang in the background in the town of Niksic.
They also booed NATO, of which Montenegro became a member in 2017.
“We are not for war but you (Russia) have our support to prevent the destruction of Russians because of NATO ambitions,” Djokovic said.
After a no-confidence vote in the pro-Serb government backed by the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church earlier this month, Montenegro is awaiting a proposal for a new government which has been delayed by political parties’ bickering.