Montenegro: Smear Campaign Against Executive Director of MANS Continues
The smear campaign against Vanja Calovic continues with the publication of seven new video montages published in the Montenegrin government-controlled daily newspaper “Informer” on Tuesday, Oct. 28.
Last June, when the smear campaign began with a video and story purporting to show Calovic engaging in bestiality were published, Calovic denounced them as fake and said Vladimir Beba Popovic, director of the Public Policy Institute, was responsible for the planted media coverage.
Calovic is executive director of the Network for Affirmation of the NGO Sector (MANS), a Montenegrin non-profit watchdog. She said the vilification campaign was intended to stop her and her organization from exposing cases of organized crime, corruption and election fraud.
She said that MANS observers uncovered election fraud during local elections on May 25, and thus prevented Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) from winning political control in Podgorica. More than 500 MANS observers sent to Podgorica found more than 842 instances of irregularities.
Calovic produced evidence after the first smear that the falsified video published on the Internet showed that the person who originally sent it had an open email page with the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
That image was then deleted. According to official data, the website of the Public Policy Institute, an NGO registered in Montenegro and owned by Popovic, is registered to that address.
Popovic, who is allegedly a close friend of Djukanovic, denied distributing the video and filed a lawsuit accusing Calovic of wrongly accusing him of its distribution. At the first hearing, held a week ago, Popovic’s lawyer handed over seven tapes claiming that it is indeed Calovic who appears in the videos.
It is images from those videos that have now appeared in the “Informer.” Calovic says that these, too, are fake.
Dejan Milovac, Deputy Executive Director of MANS, notes that the timing of the distribution of the most recent videos raises suspicions, as MANS presented its final report on electoral irregularities on Monday. MANS is also midway through the publication of a series of stories on Montenegrin Safet Kalic, who was arrested recently in Vienna. Milovac believes the MANS investigation on Kalic, which shows his alleged connections with Montenegrin authorities, may have also encouraged the smear campaign.