Pro-Russian Democratic Front paralyses Montenegro with road blockades

Pro-Russian Democratic Front paralyses Montenegro with road blockades
Protesters in the port city of Bar. / Democratic Front
By bne IntelliNews February 24, 2022

Thousands of supporters of the pro-Russian Democratic Front blocked 17 key roads across Montenegro on February 24. 

The blockades, which had been announced in advance, were in protest over a domestic issue: the planned formation of a minority government backed by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which is deeply loathed by the Democratic Front. 

However, some protesters carried flags of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk within Ukraine, recently recognised by Russia as independent, and hailed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to reports by news outlet CDM.

Montenegro’s ruling coalition, which included the Democratic Front, collapsed recently after outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic filed a no-confidence motion against his own government. The motion was backed by the DPS, which had ruled the country for 30 years until late 2020 and is seeking an opportunity to return to power.

After the vote, the Democratic Front attempted to patch up the coalition, which comprised 20 parties mainly united by the goal of keeping the DPS out of power.

At the same time, Abazovic’s United Reform Action (URA) party initiated talks with all parties on its plan for a minority government. The Democratic Front claims URA and the DPS have already reached agreement for a new coalition.

The protest was announced on February 23 by the Democratic Front, which wants the plans for a minority government to be abandoned and for the former ruling coalition to be restored.

According to the Democratic Front’s claims, between 10,000 and 11,000 of their supporters joined the blockades in the country of just over 621,000 people. They called on the former coalition partners to return to the negotiating table and come up with a new coalition agreement, claiming that this is the will of people.

Protesters carried huge banners proclaiming "BLOCKADE AGAINST BETRAYAL”. The Democratic Front’s Facebook page shows crowds in cities across the country, including the capital Podgorica and second city Niksic, as well as Bar, Bijelo Polje, Budva, Pljevlja, Zlatica and others. 

“Betrayal will not pass, we will not allow the mafia from the DPS to return to power!” reads one caption posted by the party. 

Earlier it stressed on Facebook that the “DF will prevent the DPS from returning to power in any form.”

The Democratic Front’s intends to continue the blockades if the DPS returns to power.

The Democratic Front is notorious for its alleged role in the foiled October 2016 coup plot, in which the plotters, who included Serbian paramilitaries and two suspected members of the Russian secret services, are believed to have planned to kill Djukanovic and install the Democratic Front in power. Two Democratic Front leaders were sentenced in connection with the plot, but after the change of government their sentences were scrapped.