Monitor weekly, 11 March 2011
Djukanovic's Clan Property
The state donated in the most beautiful Montenegrin town of Kotor thousands of square meters, including – cultural monuments, to Aco Alexander Djukanovic, brother of the former prime minister1SIZ! On the magical location, in Dobrota, on the beachfront. It is rumoured that he will move there.
Djukanovic obtained in Dobrota, according to the Real Estate Agency data, approximately two thousand square meters of land by decisions of state authorities, and he bought as much. They ceded him a two-storeyed building of DPO and DSZ SIZ2 a monument of more than 290 square meters and three ancillary buildings – also cultural monuments. He, therefore, owns at this place, in cultural heritage monuments alone, a total 614 square meters! Why is state owned cultural heritage ceded to a private person? Maybe for Djukanovic's young revolutionary merits, in those years when he played music in rain at rallies of his brother's DPS3
Aco's nephew Edin Kolarević also indebted somehow the country. Son of Ana Kolarević, sister of the bi-decennial prime minister and president, has in Dobrota 11 797 square meters, which are registered on his firm Sublime developments. All this land, Kolarević obtained through a decision of state authorities. Its value reaches millions of euros. .
Decisions of state authorities did not do well to Djukanovic's clan only in Kotor. In Ulcinj, their's is the shore. At Port Milena, more than two and a half thousand square meters were ceded to the First Bank of Aco and Milo Djukanovic by decisions of state bodies. The land is under control of the Coastal Management Agency. It's not all. In this town, in the beachfront zone, Djukanovic's Bank owns 23 000 square meters, part of which are also under the control of the Coastal Management Agency.
As if the sky is their limit. Assets in Kotor and Ulcinj are only a fraction of an impressive list of real estate registered on the closest relatives of the sacrosanct leader. According to available documents, of all family members, Aco Djukanovic has the most in Montenegro.
He started from scratch. According to his own words, Aco earned his first cash by carrying bags at the Titograd railway station in the late eighties, near the building where he lived with his parents, brother and sister in a modest flat in gray urban neighborhood. And then, he says, he began to think
The transition from physical to intellectual work coincided with the conquest of power by his brother Milo. Accidentally. Unemployed, Aco earned his first generous fees as a producer – jury member of the Montenegrin state television in 1991, at the last joint appearance for the European Song Conquest, before the death of Yugoslavia. The winner was Baby Doll, who sang Brazil. Djukanovic was recommended to the jury, perhaps, by the sound and other technical details for which he was responsible at pre-election rallies of his brother's party, which had almost plebiscitary support of the people and Slobodan Milosevic.
TRANSACTIONS AND ACTIONS: After Baby Doll, Aco had a ball. As the older brother would say – he managed. According to the U.S. ICIJ, the wealth of the younger Djukanovic is estimated at 167 million dollars. It is not, however, clear on the basis of which methodology the Institute came to that figure. According to the data available to Monitor, his property in Montenegro alone, according to the Cadaster records and data from the Central Depository Agency (CDA) – is enormous and exceeds by far such estimate. How much and what Djukanovic owns outside our country is difficult to determine
Most often mentioned is the Djukanovic's ownership of the First Bank, in which he owns 46.48 percent of shares where, together with his brother Milo and sister Ana Kolarević, he has the majority stake and control.
The shares in the Nikšić Bank, which he later renamed the First Bank of Montenegro founded in 1901, Djukanovic bought for next to nothing. He was the only buyer who appeared at the auction through his Montenova company, that previously owned 12 percent of the bank's ownership. The 30 percent of shares, which the state was selling for 3 millions euros, he paid million and a half in cash and the remainder in frozen foreign currency savings bonds.
Within a year, the bank has simply flourished and became the second largest in Montenegro. American ICIJ underlines that the year before privatization, the government deposits in the bank totalled only 23 million dollars, and in September 2007, after privatization, 127 million dollars.
In the 11 months of operations in 2007, First Bank achieved a fantastic 390 percent growth rate. A lesser part of this should be credited to the business art of younger Djukanovic, while a much greater to the cosmic conflict of interest, about which the U.S. officials reported in the messages obtained by daily Vijesti through Wikileaks and the Europeans in the recently adopted Resolution of the European Parliament.
Large public enterprises and ministries of Milo Djukanovic's government transferred their accounts to the First Bank In just two years, the shares have risen over hundred times. Aco's capital in the bank grew in September 2008 to over 100 million euros. With the growth of capital and deposits, also rose the credit activities.
The problem in this, however, is that Djukanovic approved a large number of loans to friends and party loyalists, with poor or no collateral, so that the Bank quickly got in trouble. Aco, for example, approved credits worth several dozen million euros to Stanko
Subotic Cane, a business friend of Milo Djukanovic, who is suspected of smuggling cigarettes. Vuk Rajkovic, a business partner of former Prime Minister, got a five million euros credit. Among the friends who withdrew loans from the Bank are Goran Sito Rakocevic, the best man of former prime minister and member of the first board of the First Bank, and Radmila Vojvodic, a close friend of Milo Djukanovic, also a member of the first Bank's board. Aco, himself, borrowed from the Bank.
To save the First Bank from disaster, the government helped with a 44 million euros loan, which was returned in a strange way, through suspicious transactions in which one million traveled eleven times from the Pension Fund to the State Treasury in just one hour.
The government was not the only one to help in the crisis. At rescue also came the public companies. All transactions for the sale of electricity utility EPCG shares to the Italian A2A went through the fraternal bank. Out of approximately the 400 million euros transaction paid through the First Bank accounts, some 50-100 million euros remained in the bank on the basis of which it maintains liquidity.
COAL MINE, EPCG, INSTITUTE: Aco Djukanovic and A2A are together in the Coal mine. He has 10.5 percent of shares, A2A 39.49 percent, and the state 31 percent. Aco Djukanovic has over 75 percent of the Institute for Urban Planning and Design, whose spacious building is located on one of the nicest and most expensive locations in Podgorica, near the U.S. embassy. Djukanovic obtained the ownership of the Institute and its valuable real estate for only 2.7 million euros. Here again, he could pay part of the price by means frozen foreign currency savings bonds.
At the moment when Aco overtook the Institute in 2007, this institution operated well and had a positive balance sheet. Otherwise, the Department has a long tradition; it was established in 1946 and was the most prestigious national institution in the field of spatial planning, design and engineering. Why was it privatized and what did the institution gain since?
When Aco Djukanovic assumed control over the Institute, the same has received more lucrative business from Milo Djukanovic's government. A number of projects worth millions piled up, such as the one on the construction of a submarine cable under the Adriatic Sea, which the former prime minister agreed in direct negotiation with Silvio Berlusconi. Conflicts of interest did not stop here, they just multiplied.
REAL ESTATE: NGO MANS accused the Djukanovic's for having a conflict of interest in the spatial planning for Bjelasica and Komovi, undertaken by the Institute. The only problem is not that the state commissioned the work, but that Aco has over 275 000 square meters of land in this area, while his nephew Edin has more than 45 000 square
meters. A close family friend, Dragan Bećirović, has 147 000 square meters. Bećirović is the owner of the company Beppler and Jacobson, suspected to belong partly to Djukanovic's. Vektra, a company of Dragan Brkovic, also close to Djukanovic's, has 38 000 square meters.
In Herceg Novi, Aco's Invest nova (whose capital according to data from the Business Register is estimated at close to 12 million euros) owns seven parcels of about five thousands square meters. In Bar, the same company has two building lots on the prestigious Topolica location of about five thousands square meters.
In Podgorica, the younger Djukanovic has thousands and thousands of square meters in land, residential and business premises. In the heart of the city, at the stadium of the Soccer team Buducnost, he has several thousand square meters of office space which, interestingly, according to the cadastral data, is owned by the Government of Montenegro. Does this mean that Djukanovic was a rentier to the government of his brother?
Monitor wrote earlier, and this was not denied, that the Government of Montenegro gave Aco the right to use 7637 square meters of state land in Podgorica where the police building is located, including the right to become the owner.
In the Brace Zlaticanina Street, in the city's downtown, Aco Djukanovic purchased a two storeyed building which belonged to Montenegrin PTT, now under mortgage for restitution. Media reported that the new owner got a square meter in this prestigious location for much less than the market price.
In the Vuk Karadzic Street, also in the city's downtown, Djukanovic has over 1,300 square meters of business and residential space. In this building is the seat of his First Bank. The building was built in the Karadjordje's park, which the building usurpated.
Djukanovic also has a stake in the residential / commercial building complex Krusevac. There, he has rented the office space to the electricity utility EPCG. Our rentier does not have to worry – he acquires easily the tenants, state institutions and public enterprises, which are safe payers. Rentier capitalism.
BIG BROTHER AND SISTER: Sister Ana in Podgorica, according to the Real Estate Agency, owns four apartments and two commercial units, totalling 623 square meters. Unlike her brother Aco, whose properties are not encumbered by mortgage loans, Kolarević's property is under mortgage due to large loans.
Kolarević, a former judge, now has a successful law firm at a prestigious address in St. Peter Cetinjski Boulevard, in the center of Podgorica. The law office Kolarević has been proclaimed several times to be the best in Montenegro by some western institutes. Whatever she takes, she gets done. She boasted herself to have a monopoly – she
registers more than 80 percent of foreign companies in Montenegro, to many of which her brother Milo made possible to get a job.
Although British sources claim that he is among the 20 world's richest rulers, Milo Djukanovic officially owns much less than his brother. A flat of about 200 square meters in Podgorica is registered on his name. His university (University Donja Gorica – UDG) extends over some impressive 12 000 square meters of land, received as a gift in Donja Gorica, while the building has more than 14 000 square meters. In UDG, Djukanovic has one quarter of the property. The property is under mortgage, since Djukanovic and partners raised multimillion credits for the construction of the university from two Montenegrin banks – CKB and Montenegro Bank. According to Monitor sources, Milo Djukanovic has problems in repayment of this credit.
This is not the only credit of the multiple Montenegrin prime minister. For the 20 000 square meters of land in Budva, purchased through company Global Montenegro together with his partner and best man Vuk Rajkovic, he borrowed five million euros from Hypo Alpe Adria Bank. Milo Djukanovic, according to our information, also has a problem with the servicing of this loan.
According to former prime minister's property file, his wife Lydia does not own real estate property. His son Blažo got as a gift from his uncle office space of 459 square meters in Podgorica, and has a flat of 124 square meters in Zabljak.
It is known that autocrats hold at home only a fraction of their assets. When they step out from power, one usually finds outside wealth that is often measured in billions, in real estate, secret bank accounts, offshore companies of mysterious ownership structure, shares of foreign companies …. Just the businesses for which Milo Djukanovic was a suspect in Italy brought, according to various estimates, billions of dollars. Where did that money end up? It is suspected that the Montenegrin prime minister had a stake in some major privatizations, KAP4
How much possess abroad the heroes of our times? At this point, we only know that Ana's son, Edin, as a student, bought an apartment in Manhattan for $ 900 000. He also sacrificed himself for democracy – by donating $ 250 to Barak Obama during the campaign. Just a bit for Djukanovic's, a lot for America. , for example, but there is no evidence for it.
1 Milo Djukanovic, Montenegrin former prime minister and president 1991 – 2010
2 Local public institutions
3 Democratic Party of Socialists – DPS, Montenegrin ruling party
4 Aluminium Industry Podgorica, the largest industrial company in Montenegro
THE CASE OF PODGORICA BASIC COURT JUDGE MLADEN GRDINIĆ: Promotion and privileges in exchange for protecting interests of Žugić and Medenica
After suspicious actions in cases in which Vesna Medenica, Radoje Žugić and the DPS are interested, judge Grdinić was rapidly promoted and gained privileges. According to the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, Grdinic's property has multiplied in just one year.
Judge Mladen Grdinić dismissed my lawsuit for discrimination against the Central Bank of Montenegro (CBM) and the Governor Radoje Žugić in its entirety as unfounded. With such a verdict, Grdinić gave the Governor, but also every other employer in Montenegro, freedom to implement nepotism and employ according to unknown criteria. The High Court and the Supreme Court revoked this verdict and the case was remanded for retrial after almost four years, Ivan Jović, a former employee of the CBM, told Monitor.
This week, Jović's retrial is taking place before the Basic Court in Podgorica and Judge Grdinić against the CBM and the Governor Žugić as the employer.
He explains that he filed the first lawsuit in October 2017, after a series of unsuccessful attempts to resolve the dispute within the CBM. “After 13 years of dedicated work in the Financial and Banking Operations Division – International Payments Operations Department, with the arrival of Radoje Žugić as the Governor in the second term, my job was deleted overnight, with no prior notice, explanation and most importantly – needlessly. I had not a single reproach from my superiors, and I do have over 20 certificates from trainings attended in central banks in the European Union, sent to by the CBM herself, investing significant funds in my professional development” says Jović.
In addition to the basic lawsuit, he simultaneously filed two initiatives with the Constitutional Court of Montenegro to assess the constitutionality and legality of the CBM Rulebook on the Organization of jobs, promulgated by the Governor Žugić. Those initiatives were rejected, and the Constitutional Court never considered the constitutionality and legality of the Governor's actions. Shortly afterwards, Žugić hired the son of “presiding” Constitutional Court judge Desanka Lopičić, Janko Lopičić.
In his testimony before Judge Grdinić, Jović explained that deleting his job and transferring him to another job, in a department not related to his previous professional engagement, with a significant reduction in earnings, was an clear act of arbitrariness of the Governor Žugić. “I was only the collateral damage of the Governor's clash with the then director of the Financial and Banking Operations Division, Mr Idriz Ćetković. By the decision of Governor Žugić, the director was dismissed overnight, forced to retire, and I, as one of his closest associates, was downgraded” Jović added.
According to the claims of the former CBM employee, Judge Grdinić at the main hearing did not allow the discussion on the identities of the CBM employees, i.e. their friendly and family ties with the Governor and the CBM management. Such actions, Jović notes, protected the interests of the Governor and prevented proper determination of the relevant facts. The verdict of the Supreme Court, Monitor had insight into, also reads that Judge Grdinić passed the first-instance verdict with a significant violation of the provisions of the civil procedure and the absence of reasons for decisive facts.
This is the third case assigned to the Judge Grdinić, which refers to Governor Žugić and the CBM, assigned in a period of only two years.
In May 2016, he rejected Žugić's lawsuit against the daily DAN, for mental suffering caused by reputation damage, by which he demanded 15 thousand euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage due to the headline entitled “Žugić received his doctorate in a non-existent study“. Although he rejected Žugić's claim with the verdict, Grdinić still protected him, in a way that he excluded from the verdict and completely marginalized certain material evidence obtained in the court proceedings. The case of the disputed doctorate was not forward to the prosecution by the judge Grdinić, who ought to have done it ex officio. “For insisting on elements of a criminal offence relating to the Žugić's invalid doctorate, lawyer Nebojša Asanović was publicly arrested, handcuffed and detained for alleged tax evasion, based on a criminal lawsuit by Siniša Kovačević, the chief tax inspector appointed by Žugić when he was the finance minister. He is Žugić's brother-in-law, brother of Žugić`s spouse Milanka-Mira Žugić, explains Monitor‘s well-informed source.
It's worth reminding: only three months ago, Judge Grdinić also rejected the lawsuit of the former CBM Vice Governor, Irena Radović, in its entirety as unfounded. She, as Monitor wrote earlier, filed a lawsuit against the Governor and the CBM for discrimination and mobbing in 2018, months prior to her dismissal in the Parliament. During the two years and four months that the dispute lasted in the first instance with Grdinić, Radović's attorneys asked for his exemption, due to bias. According to Monitor‘s sources, the President of the Court, Željka Jovović, the godmother of the President of the Supreme Court, Vesna Medenica, rejected the request for his exemption.
After such actions, Judge Grdinić became the Vice President of the Basic Court in Podgorica in June 2019, although he slipped into the judicial toga for the very first time at end-2015, based on the decision of Medenica and the Judicial Council. Simultaneously, Željka Jovović was appointed president of the Basic Court.
In the short period following his assignment and with the achieving of good results in the cases in which Medenica, Žugić, DPS were interested, Grdinić was progressing rapidly and gaining privileges.
According to the Agency for Prevention of Corruption data Monitor had insight into, Grdinić's property multiplied in just one year.
According to the property card reported to the Agency in 2018, Grdinić had only 1,100 euros in his current account and had no real estate. Only a year later, the judge's property card indicates a monthly income from rent in Kolašin in the amount of 3,000 euros a year, without prior registered real estate, i.e. on what basis he earns income from renting out. According to the property card from 2019, Grdinić had an inflow of 31,300 euros, also without reporting where that income came from. Two months later, he reported the vehicle as an increase in assets beyond 5,000 euros – a Peugeot 508 1.6 HDI, again without explanation.
In May 2020, Grdinić took over the keys to the apartment obtained on favorable terms. In the property card reported to the Agency on 10 March 2020, he reported an apartment of 48 square metres with a housing loan of 16,000 euros. Only a day later, he reported a membership in the Steering Committee (SC) of the Commission for Implementation of Child-Friendly Legal Aid, with remuneration of 375 euros. In the meantime, in August 2020, only nine days after passing the verdict in favour of Žugić/CBCG in the Radović case, Grdinić was appointed to the four-member Board of the Mediation Center to represent the Basic Court in Podgorica, with a monthly allowance not yet reported to the Anti-corruption Agency, although four months have passed since his appointment to the new position.
Grdinić's success in judicial circles is linked to Medenica. According to allegations of those close to Judge Grdinić, Medenica did her internship with Judge Grdinić's father in Kolašin. She worked closely with him for years during her career in the Kolašin judiciary and prosecutor's office. First in his capacity as a judge, then as a lawyer.
Close relations of Žugić and Medenica are not unknown to the public. It was discovered that they have villas next to each other in the seafront in Krašići. The international public's attention was drawn to Medenica's legal position that officials dismissed in Parliament do not have the right to judicial protection before regular courts, which contributed to protecting the interests of the then ruling DPS majority and the Governor Žugić. Žugić also assisted in the businesses of the children of the President of the Supreme Court. Miloš Medenica got his first job for trading in oil derivatves, linked to the company named „Timi“ during Žugić's term of office as the Minister of Finance. In the meantime, the Investment and Development Fund (IRF), which is controlled by the CBM and Governor Žugić, approved and implemented via Prva banka two favourable credit arrangements of almost 400 thousand euros to the same company owned by Medenica's son. Medenica, as the supreme state prosecutor, thwarted the indictment of Žugić on at least two ocasions, while he was the director of the Pension Fund including for the controversial privatisation of Maritime Transport company in 2004.
What can Ivan Jović expect from the new trial on Thursday, when this issue of Monitor goes to press?
HOW ŽUGIĆ AND CBM TAKE CARE OF THE JUDGES’ CHILDREN IN PARALEL WITH RELATIVES, FRIENDS, BEST MEN
“A significant number of children of Montenegrin judges are employed by the CBM,” Monitor source stressed.
The son of the Supreme Court judge Radojka Nikolić, Marko Nikolić, also works in the CBM, in banking supervision. Žugić awarded director positions to the daughter and son-in-law of Supreme Court Judge Dušanka Radović, Marija and Rajko Sekulović. As the Monitor's source explains, Žugić is in a direct kinship relationship with Judge Radović. The husband of the judge of the Supreme Court Nataša Božović, Srđa Božović, is also sitting today in the Advisory Board of the Governor of the CBM with monthly remuneration. Previously, he was a member of the CBM Council for a full eight years, with a monthly fee of one thousand euros in net amount.
Both daughters of the Supreme Court judge Svetlana Vujanovic and Filip Vujanovic, former triple president of Montenegro, prime minister and former Minister of Justice Nina Vujanovic and Tatjana Vujanovic Vukasnovic, also work in the CBM.
After the illegal dismissal of Vice Governor Irena Radović, Tatjana Vujanović Vuksanović, but also the daughter of Prime Minister Duško Marković, Valentina Marković, were promoted. Marković was promoted to being the chief supervisor, and Vujanović Vuksanović to special advisor to the governor for representing the CBM in difficult disputes before the courts. Her sister Nina Vujanović was also, after Radović's dismissal, promoted to advisor to Vice Governor Nikola Fabris.
It is also a convenient coincidence that Tatjana Vujanović Vuksanović legally represented Žugić in Radović's dispute against him and the CBM before Judge Grdinić. Besides her, Žugić's representative in the same dispute is Ana Đukanović, the sister of Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović, who initially defended the interests of CBM and Žugić against Radović openly and singlehandedly in June and July 2018. This can be seen from the documentation signed by the president's sister, whilst in the dispute before the Basic Court, in addition to Vujanović Vuksanović, the interests of the CBM and Žugić were formally represented by Miroslav Adžić, a lawyer who emerged from Ana Đukanović's office.
SILENT KILLER: DRUG ADDICTION AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE IN MONTENEGRO: Growing Hopelessness
Young people in Montenegro can reach dugs within half an hour. They often consume it in school backyards, most commonly marijuana, and the use of heavy psychoactive substances is increasing. Many of them suffer from psychological disorders. Monitor's interviewees agree that we don’t talk about this enough, and that we lack support of the society as a whole.
“They use drugs wherever they can, mostly in the schoolyard. They choose places where cameras can't capture them, and those who want to get “stuff” turn to them. In most cases, it is marijuana”, said student A.S. from Electro-Technical High School Vaso Aligrudic in Podgorica.
Last year's research of the Ombudsman Children and Addiction Diseases in Montenegro showed as well that drug addiction is one of the burning problems of young people in Montenegro. According to the research, which included 37 elementary and 25 high schools, marijuana was used by more than 11 percent of students, while on average, more than eight students consumed heavy drugs. “Half of drug addicts use one substance and the other half use two or more substances. Students in Montenegro use significantly more illegal (heavy) drugs than the EU average”, the study said. As many as 16 percent of students said that illicit substances were often consumed at school, and besides, there was an increase in the use of synthetic drugs, which are cheap and easily available.
“Those for whom I know that use marijuana do it behind the school. They did it before on the fire stairs. The most problematic is easy availability of drugs”, said student Z.K. from Economics High School Mirko Vesovic in Podgorica. More than 25 percent of the students that participated in the Ombudsman's research reported a similar view. If one wants drugs, it will take him half to several hours to get it, which is disturbing.
Dijana Milosevic, from Public Institution Kakaricka Gora, an institution for accommodation, rehabilitation and re-socialization of users of psychoactive substances in Podgorica said for Monitor that it generally began with marijuana “The adolescence itself, is the greatest crisis period of each individual, when identity problems naturally appear, difficulties in accepting authority, as well as a tendency to experiment with “forbidden things.” All these are favorable conditions for an adolescent to come into contact with psychoactive substances. There is a persistent misconception among young people that marijuana is not a drug or that it is an “easy drug” which facilitates entering into problem. Most often marijuana is the first substance that addicts consume. Besides consequences which it leaves on the psyche of the consumer, this is a misconception that can cost them their lives”.
According to her, the reasons why young people use drugs are mainly dissatisfaction, concern or rebellion against authority, boredom, family problems, peer violence as well as opinion that cigarettes, alcohol or drugs are some kind of “gateway” to a certain group of peers.
“Behind our school sports hall, you can often see older guys who give marijuana to children. It happens almost every day and its favorite gathering place”, told us another student of Electro-Technical High School Vaso Aligrudic.
Monitor addressed this issue to most of the high schools in Podgorica. The question what they did to restrain this problem, even after weeks of waiting, has not been answered.
“We do not work enough in schools with adolescents, when it comes to drug addiction. However, the reason for that is not in schools, but rather in insufficient involvement of institutions, which should tackle more with this problem. We cannot expect from schools to deal with the education of children and to be a police officer and someone who, among other responsibilities, will work with children on restraining this phenomenon. That is why they need help from both the institutions and the civil sector. Everybody has to deal with this phenomenon. Every year its presence in educational institutions is increasing”, said to Monitor NGO Euromost, whose main goal is to support fight against drugs abuse and all forms of addiction.
Drug abuse increased everywhere in the world, and the same happened in our country, regardless of the actions taken through health, educational, legal system, noted psychologist Natasa Vukovic, who works with peer educators as a part of NGO Euromost actions. “The number of drug users is becoming more noticeable among young people, among high school students and even elderly elementary school students. There are no harmless drugs. The continuous, systemic and systematic action of the whole society is necessary. The aim above all must be that children and young people never turn to drugs”.
According to her, inadequate assistance and lack of support from the family, primarily parents, who have failed to maintain a relationship of trust with their children, and who have failed to “impose” desirable role models, make young people an “easy target”.
“Eighteenth birthday celebrations are particularly problematic. Sometimes flats, where they mix two or three types of drugs and large amounts of alcohol, are being rented. Mostly, this refers to grammar school graduates. My daughter went to one such birthday celebration and she called me to pick her up, shocked and dreadful. She didn't know what was going on there. And parents have no idea”, said for Monitor Patricija Pobric, Director of NGO Our Action.
She claims that a deeper involvement in drug addiction is often preceded by some criminal acts: “Usually, as of the third grade of high school, young people are recruited to buy ID cards by older students. These kids turn to drugs afterwards. They are “carriers” and it’s easy to involve them in petty crimes. They later buy motorcycles and cars from that money “.
Many start using drugs because they expect that it will help them deal with problems on a daily basis. Many start out of curiosity, with the well-known – ‘I will just try it’. Asked why someone became an addict and someone did not, especially if persons grew up in similar circumstances or even in the same family, Natasa Vukovic said that there was no clear and definite answer: “The only certain conclusion is that you should clearly advise everyone not to try psychoactive substance because one does not know in advance whether he/she is sensitive to it, which would mean that even a single intake already creates a psychic need for re-taking it. Such patients exist in practice, and they have a common characteristic that they “immediately liked the drug”.
Euromost noted that in addition to combating drug trafficking, we should work also on improving prevention of drug addiction among youth: “Upon completing the training of the first peer educators, Euromost, besides Bijelo Polje, has expanded its workshops to other northern municipalities, such as Plav, Gusinje and Rozaje. The number of participants is the best indicator of youth interest. However, in order for this to be successful, it is necessary to constantly communicate with young people and listen to what they have to say. It is not really useful just to find an expert who will explain them what the drug is and how it looks like”.
Natasa Vukovic, pointed out for Monitor, that addiction can be closely related to young people’s mental problems. Mind and mental healthcare is still a taboo topic in Montenegro. “It is true that in recent years more and more young people have sought help and advice of psychologists, but still shyly, almost always asking for visits not to be evidenced, and that parents do not find out about it, because it is often very difficult for them to accept the fact that their child goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist”, she said.
The state has similar approach. “There is no institution in our country where young people with a mental illness can be treated”, warned Vukovic.
In Montenegro, National Register on Drug Addiction has been maintained since 2013 by the Institute for Public Health, but it functions only on the basis of data collected from health institutions. There is no information about those who are not reported. According to recent estimates, there are more than 15,000 drug addicts in Montenegro.
How many of them are young people and children is not precisely known. The results of the research are discouraging. Monitor's interviewees agree – there is a lack of communication and cooperation between institutions, schools, parents and young people. And the problem of addiction is not the problem of the individual, but of the whole society.
Milo Popovic and Andrea Jelic
HOW HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ACCEPTED STAY-AT-HOME AND SOCIAL DISTANCING ORDERS: Time of Worrying and Learning
It has been shown that keeping prescribed distance without physical contact, shaking hands, hugging … is one of the least respected measures among surveyed high school students. According to received answers, the only recommendation that was less respected was the one concerning wearing of protective equipment
Do high school students in Podgorica and to what extent respect the measures taken to prevent coronavirus spread? Through social networks, we surveyed about 200 students, from all high schools in Podgorica, to find out first-hand, how they cope with recommendations and measures that, among other things, limit movement and outdoor activities.
“Ever since the coronavirus appeared in Montenegro and since the Government announced the protective measures, I fully comply with them,” Elena Dabetic told us. “I haven't been out of the house since March, even when I have to go to the store, I go with full equipment: masks, gloves, and I keep distance from other people. Quarantine was not difficult for me since I’ve focused on some other activities, for which I did not have time, such as drawing. I kill boredom by playing online video games with my friends, watching movies, reading books, etc. I believe that people just need to think positively and use this time to work on themselves; well, we have a lot of time and we will learn more to appreciate going out after all this.”
Others, again, relativized the danger and explained why they did not exactly adhere to the imposed measures of social distancing. In fact, it was shown that keeping a prescribed distance of 1-2 meters without physical contact, shaking hands, hugging…was one of the least respected measures among surveyed high school students. Only every tenth respondent respected this experts’ recommendation. Even less number of respondents, according to received answers, respected recommendation concerning wearing of protective equipment. It was respected by every fifth research participant.
“When it comes to quarantine, I was relaxed at first, but when the situation intensified, I took it more seriously,” said Isidora Milatovic. “It is difficult for me to get used to it. This is the first time I am faced with situation like this. I spend my time learning, so I don't really do any other activities. I sincerely hope that the situation will stabilize and that we will soon return to a normal life. ”
Her peer Danilo Kujacic explained: “I accept quarantine well, since my usual lifestyle is not much different. I spend most of my day at the computer. I go out with friends in the evening or occasionally, go out for training. I think the current situation is exaggerated and not half as significant as the media present it.”
A significant number of young people, according to their own testimonies, comply with the recommendations and stay at home. Survey has found that watching series and movies, playing games on a phone/computer and using social networks are three of the most common activities young people currently do. According to collected data, every tenth respondent takes an online course, learns a foreign language and (or) reads extracurricular literature.
Milica Radulovic stated that the current situation disturbed everyone's usual activities, but, as she said, we must accept this way of life. “We all eagerly wait for measures to ease, but until that happens, we must use this time as good as possible. I suggest that we all devote this time to ourselves: by doing home-based training, reading a book, studying, but also communicating with friends through social networks. If after doing all of these you still have spare time, you can always watch a series or a movie…”, said our interviewee. And she concluded: “I really miss gatherings in the neighbourhood, but these measures must be respected if we want to get back to our old habits as soon as possible.”
In our survey, high school students cited several common reasons why they went out: a third of surveyed participants went out to shop at stores and pharmacies; a quarter for a walk or training in nature; every fifth for meeting and hanging out with friends… Boris Janjusevic said: “It was strange at first, but over time I got used to it. I spend my time doing homework, but of course I play games more than usual. As usual I spare an hour, an hour and a half of time for training.”
Given the new circumstances, interaction between students and professors in the school classroom has been replaced by online teaching, a platform and a website. Survey showed that most students did assignments, presentations, essays which professors gave, as well as that they studied provided resources. However, based on the results, two-thirds of high school students were not satisfied with online teaching, since, as they said, new way of work, to which they were not used to, required more work, effort and time than “traditional” class attendance.
Almost everyone missed social life, going out and socializing (without set limits). “I am very bored in quarantine and it has been difficult for me to find anything interesting to do”, notes S.P. who wanted to remain anonymous. “I usually play games, write songs, listen to music or do my homework. The current situation has great impact on us and our psyche. When all this is over, the consequences will be visible in our country, as well as in the whole world”, he said.
On the other hand, a smaller number of respondents said that they did not have any difficulties during quarantine. They believe that there has not been any other situation in which they would have so much time to devote to themselves and to improve their skills and potentials. Thus, M.P. explained: “I learn languages during quarantine. I try to organize myself well, especially because of my school obligations. Of course, this is not always possible, but I manage. I also watch movies, communicate with friends, and read books. This is a chance to correct most of the mistakes, because time, despite the space barrier, works in our favour. ”
We spoke with Patricia Pobric, a civic activist and Executive Director of the NGO Our Action, about the behaviour of young people in this new situation caused by coronavirus pandemic and in what way they can make useful contribution.
“One who understands young people understands that current situation is most difficult to them. It's still easy for kids to have fun at home with toys and other activities, but young people are, by their nature, very social beings. They like to move, to socialize, go out…Although we consider that they are too much attached to their phones, physical socializing means a lot to them. In general, I think most young people understood the significance of the situation, and that it was accepted with understanding but not with fear. Only young people to whom parents, relatives, and media transferred fear, showed it.”
Pobric however, pointed out that there were also undesirable examples. “It happens that a small number of young men drives their vehicles after curfew, or organize trips and barbecues and do not respect social distancing. My advice to young members of NGO Our Action, from the beginning of quarantine, was to spend time after online school activities not only on games and internet, but also on planting, working on farms, gardens, learning new skills at home and in nature.” Photos prove that some have accepted the advice.
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