Montenegro’s Parliament Approves Religion Law Despite Protests | 12/27/2019 | Staff
PODGORICA (Reuters) – Montenegro’s parliament approved on Friday a law on religious communities despite street protests and a last-minute attempt in the chamber by deputies of the pro-Serb opposition to prevent the vote going ahead.

Under the law, religious communities in the tiny Adriatic state would need to prove property ownership from before 1918, when predominantly Orthodox Christian Montenegro joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the predecessor of the now-defunct Yugoslavia.

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The pro-Serb Democratic Front (DF) and other critics of the legislation say it is an attempt to promote the small Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which is not recognized by other major churches, at the expense of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the dominant church in the country of 620,000 people.

They also accuse Montenegro’s pro-Western president, Milo Djukanovic, and his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of corruption, ties to organized crime and seeking to push the country further from Serbia, its much bigger neighbor.

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The DF deputies brawled with their opponents just before the vote, which took place in the early hours of Friday after a lengthy late-night debate.

Police initially detained all 18 DF deputies but later released 15. Among the three who remained in detention pending charges was DF leader Andrija Mandic.

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