By Ognjen Markovic:
Escalating protests in Montenegro
24 March 2012
Following an initial protest in January, another large demonstration against declining living standards and corruption took place in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on March 18. The protest was organised by the same alliance that called the January protest: the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (UFTUM), the NGO MANS and the Students’ Union.
According to the UFTUM web site, around 20,000 people took part in the protest. This is a large figure for the tiny state of Montenegro, which voted for its independence from Serbia in 2006, and has a total population of around 200,000.
Probably, the authors mean the total adult population, as the total population is 600,000.
The latest protest was around twice the size of the demonstration in January and reflects growing popular anger at social polarisation and government corruption.
Alluding to last year’s uprisings in the Arab world, the organisers and the media claimed the arrival of a “Montenegrin Spring.”
The government’s response to the rally revealed its increasing nervousness in the face of growing popular anger. The MANS web site records diverse attempts to obstruct the organisation of the protest. Bus companies were pressured to cancel their services, and local administrations made the protest day—Sunday—a workday, obliging public employees to show up for work.
The seat of the government building, the finishing point of the January protest, was barricaded, even though the organisers of Sunday’s march made clear they would not proceed to the government headquarters, but instead disband the crowd at the main city square. Attempting to play down the significance of the event, the Montenegrin authorities claimed just 7,000 took part.
Air Canada baggage handlers walked off the job at airports in Toronto and Montreal today in defiance of new anti-strike legislation, causing nearly 90 flight cancellations and long delays: here.