The Government of Montenegro, led by Zdravko Krivokapic, has been on shaky ground since the beginning of its term. The reason for that is the lack of support from the most numerous entity of the parliamentary majority – the Democratic Front (DF). Democratic Front’s MPs have stated on several occasions that Zdravko Krivokapic does not have their support and that it is necessary to form a new government, which has provoked a major political and institutional crisis in the country. One of the solutions offered to overcome that crisis was the reconstruction of the Government, i.e. its expansion, which would enable the representatives of the DF to enter the executive branch. However, no agreement was reached and the DF returned to its previous position, demanding the formation of a new government that will not be led by the current Prime Minister.
On the other hand, Zdravko Krivokapic, lacking the support in the Parliament, often finds legitimacy for the expert government to continue to exist, through the alleged support of the people. However, the whole situation, as well as the one-year work of the Government, greatly jeopardized the position of Zdravko Krivokapic, which seemed untouchable, especially after the local elections in Niksic, when the coalition made up of Demokratska Crna Gora, led by the chairman of the Parliament Aleksa Becic and the Ne Damo Niksic movement, led by the advisor to Prime Minister Krivokapic, achieved an excellent result. The Prime Minister is also aware of the current situation, so he recently announced the possibility of forming his own political party.
The conflict between Krivokapic and DF takes place on social media as well. In the context of all these events, the Digital Forensic Center (DFC) conducted a qualitative analysis of certain pages, groups, and accounts that have become conspicuous on these platforms, and which provide support and promote Zdravko Krivokapic and some ministers in the Government.
In the last two months, several connected pages have appeared on Facebook. They continuously promote and support Zdravko Krivokapic, certain members of his Government, Marko Milacic, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), and at the same time target other political entities. When it comes to negative announcements, targets are members of the DF, DPS, SDP, Dritan Abazovic, Minister of Interior Sergej Sekulovic and Director of the Police Administration Zoran Brdjanin, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (CPC), i.e. individuals and parties with whom the Prime Minister is often in political conflict.
These pages share content that is either identical or overlaps in the narratives that are placed, while the accounts that follow and share the content of these pages are most often fake accounts and trolls.
The Facebook pages that will be further analyzed have collected almost 14 thousand interactions and over 400 posts on Facebook in the last three months
Fakt, Alapaca and Ljepši su se kopali
At the beginning of September, before and after the protests held in Cetinje on the occasion of the enthronement of Metropolitan Joanikije, three Facebook pages stood out: Fakt.me, which presents itself as a media organization, and two meme pages – Alapača and Ljepsi su se kopali. All three pages were created on the same day, August 26, 2021. Also, in the beginning, they acted as meme pages and shared the same content, but after a certain time, Fakt.me became more of an unofficial gazette of Zdravko Krivokapic and ministers close to him.
The mentioned pages were especially active after the protest in Cetinje when they targeted the Minister of Interior Sergej Sekulovic and the Director of the Police Administration Zoran Brdjanin.
The pages Alapaca and Ljepsi su se kopali took over the content and shared it mutually. The analysis established that the account of Jovana Radovanovic shared the post from the Alapaca page to as many as six groups (Ne Damo Svetinje (Svi Zajedno), Murino moj rode, Манастир Морача (Наша светиња, наш идентитет, наш највећи монументал.), ЈОШ МАЈКЕ ОБИЛИЋЕ РАЂАЈУ, Никшић град мириса тамјана, DRUSTVO ZAVICAJACA MOJKOVCA) at the very same minute.
Some of the groups where posts about Brdjanin were shared:
Interestingly, this post was shared from several accounts to different pages at intervals of one minute or two (10:15, 10:16, 10:19)
After Brdjanin and Sekulovic, the targets of these pages changed over time. Their frequent targets were DF leaders, Rasko Konjevic, Dritan Abzovic, and DPS members. The Fakt.me page is still very active, while the last posts on the other two pages were on October 14 and 25, respectively. Fakt.me currently has 2408 followers, Alapaca 2252, and Ljepsi su se kopali 681. This page with a special accent affirms the activities of Minister Milojko Spajic. The page also affirms the views of Marko Milacic, the only MP from the DF electoral list who supports Zdravko Krivokapic and his Government.
Prof War Room and Srbski Svijet
In mid-October and early November, new pages and groups that operate according to the same or a similar pattern as the pages Alapaca, Ljepsi se kopali, and Fakt.me sprang up.
Prof War Room is one of the new pages that openly promotes Zdravko Krivokapic and the work of certain ministers. The page was created on October 15, 2021, and has 740 followers. The admins of the page described themselves as a group of citizens, true patriots, who voluntarily decided to defend the one whom they consider to be the personification of change and all the good that is yet to come in Montenegro.
On November 5, this page posted disinformation that Joe Biden invited solely Montenegro from the region to the summit on democracy. It is disinformation because, in addition to Montenegro, countries from the region were also invited to the summit: Croatia, Albania, and North Macedonia.
In addition, the problem is the fact that this post was sponsored and reached over 430 reactions, 100 comments, and 15 shares.
The Prof War Room page is also connected to the Догодине на Ловћену group. The admin of this group daily shares content that glorifies the work and achievements of Zdravko Krivokapic, Milojko Spajic, Jakov Milatovic, Vesna Bratic, and Marko Milacic. Also, the admin of this page often shares content on the group that attacks the DF and the leaders of this alliance.
Another page that stands out is Srbski_svijet, made on November 6, 2021, and created as support to the Facebook account with the same name. As with the previous pages, the same pattern was noticed with this account. Identical content and identical narratives that have been promoted on pages such as Alapaca, Fakt.me, Prof War Room can be found on this account and page. A group Srbski Svijet was also created on Facebook (it has 63 members), where the same content is placed.
The Србски Свијет account also promoted the Prof War Room page. However, unlike the page that glorifies Zdravko Krivokapic and his close associates, the Србски Свијет account is more focused on political opponents. Lately, the main target of this page is the Democratic Front. A potential goal of this page is the alienation of the DF electorate from that coalition and the enhancement of the Government in society due to the lack of support in the Parliament. Apart from the Democratic Front, which has been a frequent target lately, due to the renewed conflict between that political entity and Zdravko Krivokapic, this page often targets the opposition, as well as the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
In addition to the mentioned Facebook pages, the coordinated behavior of the same and content-related Instagram accounts was identified. Promoting the religious doctrine of the Serbian Orthodox Church, its advocates and political followers, right-wing ideas, cults, and historical myths, with frequent targeting of political dissidents, are the links that characterize the propaganda interconnection of accounts on this social platform. Thus, connection and synchronization in sharing ideologically and politically biased posts could be seen in the example of the 10 most frequently active accounts, some of which have a significant reach in terms of the number of followers.
In the last three months, these accounts have generated over 760,000 interactions and have published over 1,200 posts on Instagram.
The accounts Црна Гора (@pravoslavna_crna_gora_1), Srbski svijet (@srbski_svijet) and Fakt.me (@fakt_me) were activated with an interval of 10 days (August 15, 24, and 25, 2021) and are also part of the account network which acts according to the established pattern, openly supporting the work of Zdravko Krivokapic and members of his government (Fakt.me) as well as the President of True Montenegro and MP Marko Milacic, while on the other hand attacking DF, URA, and opposition political entities (Црна Гора and Srbski Svijet)). These accounts do not have a large number of followers (Fakti. me has 978 followers, Srbski svijet 122, while Црна Гора has 82 at the time of analysis). The Alapača page was created on August 26 and has 103 followers, while the Prof War Room page was created in September and has 157 followers.
It is interesting that on the profile @ pravoslavna_crna_gora_1 you can find posts that support the group of citizens Ne damo Mojkovac that submitted the electoral list for participation in the upcoming local elections in Mojkovac, called Konkretno i realno (Concrete and realistic), and also promoted products of the Srbski svijet brand.
Fakti.me and the Prof War Room account have recently served as unofficial political gazette of the Government led by Zdravko Krivokapic and are connected with other, previously mentioned accounts. The fact that these are interconnected pages is proved by their mutual following, tagging on posted content, as well as by mutual fake and troll accounts that boost interactions on their posts.
Revolt Crna Gora, Amanet, Njegoševa Crna Gora, Iskonska Crna Gora i ISKONSKA CRNA GORA
The pages that can be treated as part of this network are Revolt Crna Gora, Amanet, Njegoševa Crna Gora, Iskonska Crna Gora. These pages are often tagged on the posts of the pages Srbski svijet and Pravoslavna Crna Gora.
Judging by the posts’ dates, the Instagram accounts Револт Црна Гора (@cg_revolt) and Аманет (@amanet_cg) were created in early 2020 (January 19 and 23), during protest processions against the Law on Freedom of Religion. Both accounts (where @cg_revolt also exists in the backup version and has 3.4K followers) have generated a large number of followers (10.9k and 17.3k, respectively), and what they have in common is that they often appear as tagged accounts on other accounts’ posts or together with others, related accounts (Iskonska Crna Gora, ISKONSKA CRNA GORA, Njegoševa Crna Gora, Crna Gora, Srbski Svijet, Fakt.me, Prof War Room, Ne damo Mojkovac). This is especially evident when it comes to sharing content aimed at supporting the Prime Minister and promoting the attitudes and policies pursued by the Government of Zdravko Krivokapic. Also, it can be seen that they post identical content on several accounts. It is a symptomatic, common characteristic that the targets of criticism are representatives of part of the parliamentary majority from the Democratic Front, the Civic Movement URA, as well as the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.
Na profilu @amanet_cg promovisana je i humanitarna organizacija Čojstvo iz Berana, koja je blisko povezana sa Srpskom pravoslavnom crkvom.
Profil Његошева Црна Гора (@njegosevacrnagora) aktiviran je nešto kasnije, u februaru 2020. godine i do sada je sakupio 2.1K pratilaca. The account Његошева Црна Гора (@njegosevacrnagora) was activated somewhat later, in February 2020, and has so far gathered 2.1K followers. The accounts Исконска Црна Гора (@iskonskacrnagora) and ИСКОНСКА ЦРНА ГОРА (@iskonska_crna_gora) posted the first content on Instagram on March 3, and April 29, 2020, respectively. In this case, too, we are talking about ideologically and politically clearly profiled actors in whose posts narratives about the endangerment of the Serbian people can be recognized. Apart from affirming the policy of Zdravko Krivokapic and the Government of Montenegro, which he heads, it is interesting that it is possible to find evidence of political support for the party True Montenegro. Namely, the contribution and support of the Instagram account Исконска Црна Гора (@iskonskacrnagora) to that party in the pre-election campaign in the local elections in Herceg Novi in May 2021 is evidenced by a photo published by the President of True Montenegro Marko Milacic on his profile on that social media.
DFC also analyzed the Facebook and Instagram accounts that follow these groups, like and amplify the visibility of the content posted on these pages. A number of fake and troll accounts have been identified, with the sole purpose to increase the visibility of content from the analyzed groups.
Most of the fake accounts are presented as females, using different photos of a few real women. The profiles of Ana Paraca, Draga Rodic, Senka Kovacevic, Lidija Marovic, Dragan Malisic stand out. Also, these accounts like each other and comment on posts and photos.
In a large number of cases, the use of photos of the same people on different accounts is also common.
Also, there are discrepancies between the account name and the username on Facebook, which suggests that fake profiles have changed their name over time, but not the username on that social network.
Ana Paraca’s account published a post calling for the Србски Свијет account to be followed, which presented as her friend’s blog. On September 1, the same account created the group NASA CRNA GORA-НАША ЦРНА ГОРА, which, according to the admins, is the first group in Montenegro, which will deal exclusively with a better life for citizens. The group has 123 members and the above-mentioned fake accounts exclusively share content from the pages Srbski Svijet, Alapaca, Fakt.me, as well as the official posts of Minister Milojko Spajic.
Ivana Paraca’s Instagram account, which follows and likes all the analyzed pages on that social media, is also a fake account. Instagram pictures of this account can be found on several other fake Facebook accounts, such as on Senka Kovacevic and Draga Rodic’s accounts.