Media spin about riots on Christmas

A couple of days before Christmas Eve and Christmas, numerous texts envisaging riots and chaos in Montenegro, planned allegedly by supporters of President Milo Djukanovic, were published. On January 3, Montenegro and Serbia-based news portals IN4S, Vidovdan, and Nacionalist started spreading the narratives on Djukanovic’s supporters calling for an uprising during Christmas. The articles read that the move of President Djukanovic not to sign the laws delivered by the Parliament has encouraged his supporters, hidden behind some weird, shadowy organizations of the Komit-Greens ideology provenance, to start the manifestation of radicalism. The headlines such as TERRORISM announced for Christmas: Milo Djukanovic’s supporters directly calling for UPRISING! and WHERE ARE YOU AT CHRISTMAS? Milo Djukanovic’s supporters directly calling for an uprising! (Video) additionally intensifies already inflammatory narratives, which create divisions in society. Those news portals publish images and videos without providing the source of who posted them and where.

Until the moment of writing of this text, the articles from the three abovementioned news portals generated 538 interactions on Facebook, with the text published on IN4S generating 517 interactions alone. The pages and groups which shared the articles from the news portals on Facebook include: Još majke rađaju Obiliće, Nikšić Ponosni Srpski grad, Dogodine na Lovćenu, Naša Srpska, Glas naroda u Republici Srpskoj, Srpska Crna Gora, Crna Gora – Srpska Sparta, Revolucija, jedina solucija, Ne u NATO, Novi Gvozdeni Puk, Putin. Those pro-Serbian pages and groups shared articles from IN4S and Nacionalist.

The news portals were spreading hate speech 

Similar narratives were published by Belgrade-based media. The news portal Objektiv writes about the calling for an uprising on Christmas, which is sent to the citizens of Montenegro by the DPS supporters. The article was published with a sensationalist headline: Ready for BLOODSHED! Djukanovic calling his supporters for an uprising on Christmas, here is what the invitation looks like. The article generated 108 interactions on Facebook. The same tone of writing can be found on the news portals Alo and Espreso, as well as on the Udarne vesti and Srbija online YouTube channels.

The news portal Alo writes in the article headlined Milo made devious plan to return the DPS on the power that according to unnamed sources from Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic’s plan is a great crisis, chaos, and riots on the streets, followed by early elections, before his party being completely dissolved. Further on, they state that the DPS leader and the President of Montenegro began to fulfill such a plan when he returned to Parliament the Law on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs for revision, which directly attacks the Serbian Orthodox Church. The article was completed with the writing of the IN4S news portal on the alleged public call for an uprising to citizens.

Speculations about Macedonian scenario

Historian Aleksandar Rakovic claimed in an interview for the news portal that the Macedonian scenario is possible in Montenegro, i.e. that the revocation of President Djukanovic’s rule could happen soon after he had rejected to sign the amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs.

The Macedonian scenario narrative that was spread by Rakovic strongly resonated among both domestic and Serbian media. The interview was republished by IN4S, Borba, Novosti, Republika, Pravda, Srbija danas, and Nacionalist.

The dominant number of interactions was generated by the articles from news portals IN4S (127) and Borba (50). When it comes to the Serbian news portals, the news portal Nacionalist stands out with 10 interactions, and among the pages spreading the content were Нови Гвоздени Пук and Путин.

Despite tendentious reporting of both the Serbia-based news portals and pro-Serbian news portals from Montenegro, the announced riots in the form of a Christmas uprising did not occur. Due to the complex epidemiological situation, the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) did not organize mass gatherings on Christmas Eve in any city, appealing to the believers to spend Christmas Eve at their homes. Therefore, the traditional placing of the badnjak tree on fire was performed by a small number of believers of the SPC in front of the Cetinje Monastery, and by a somewhat bigger number of believers of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church in front of the Petrovic Palace in Cetinje, without any incidents.