In the midst of the events regarding the adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion, Russian influence and its meddling into political, national and religious (co)existence in Montenegro are becoming more intense.

Russia is again using the opportunity to interfere in the internal affairs of Montenegro with a strong and dynamic media campaign. The adopted Law on Freedom of Religion initiated a large number of comments in Montenegrin and Serbian media.

The portals Blic, Fakti, Novosti, Informer, Antena M, Borba, IN4S are trying to emphasize the senti- ment of Russian support to dissatisfied Serbian people in Montenegro with the following headlines: In a fight for Orthodoxy and Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbs from Montenegro received support from Russia: Our brothers, we are praying for you!, Moscow needs to protect the property given to the SOC in Montenegro: Sergey Baburin advocates for the return of relics that Montenegro wants to usurp, Montenegro: Russia is again meddling into internal affairs, RUSSIAN PATRIARCH KIRILL SUPPORTS, THE SERBS: Support for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.

S. Baburin: The return of relics from Cetinje should be demanded

Serbian portal Novosti posted a text about two Russians who made a video with the message of support for Serbs in Montenegro. On the cardboard in their hands, it is written: Russia and Montenegro – brothers forever. Time of a thief Djukanovic will pass. Christ is with us. They also conveyed the statement of Sergey Baburin (President of the Russian All-People’s Union) in which he is stating that Russia should protect what it has given to the Serbian churches and monasteries in Montenegro, and that Russia should demand from Podgorica the return of relics in Cetinje – Right Hand of Saint John the Baptist and Particles of the Lord’s Cross which are placed there unlawfully, after their temporary evacuation in 1918 from Saint Petersburg. Continuous engagement of the Russian media concerning the problematic Montenegrin issue is not waning. So, the Russian religious portal Credo published the rang list of the most prominent events in the sphere of religion for 2019, encompassing the events in the Russian Federation and the world. Rang list encompasses 30 most important events in the previous year. The adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion in Montenegro and the mass protests of Serbian Patriarchy supporters were on the 8th place. That explains the importance of the current situation in Montenegro for Russia. Mass protests in Yekaterinburg, persecution and torture of Jehovah witnesses in different regions of Russian Federation, open letter of the cleric of Russian Church with the aim to support political prisoners and others comes before it. On that portal, one can regularly find the statements of Metropolitan Amfilohije, Serbian Patriarch Irinej as well as the appearances of numerous clerics of Russian Church, led by Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, Kirill, who invited the clergy and monks to support the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.

Screenshot from the portal Credo

TV Channels, Россия 24 and Религия сегодня, as well as the portal РИА Новости are very engaged in criticizing the authorities of Montenegro. The narrative which connotes that the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, is trying to repeat the Ukrainian scenario by establishing the Autocephalous Montenegrin Church, is accentuated. In that sense, they make predictions that Djukanovic will end up like the ex Ukrainian leader, Petro Poroshenko.

Support to the Serbs in Montenegro in defending the shrines also came from the President of the „All-Russia“ moto club Night Wolves, Alexander Zaldostanov. By showing three fingers in the video from Russia, he conveyed the message – „We are not giving our shrines!“, which is the slogan of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The video was posted by the leader of political party Prava Crna Gora (True Montenegro), Marko Milacic, on his Facebook profile.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia published the press release in which they emphasize that the issues of the Law on Freedom of Religion are risen to the international level and that there is a pressure on Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, in order to make it disappear for good. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro reacted to the press release from Moscow, evaluating that Russia is inappropriately meddling into the internal affairs of our country.