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Montenegrin President Milo Đukanovic (file photo)

PODGORICA – Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has warned that he will not sign changes to the law governing prosecution appointments that were earlier adopted by parliament, in the latest clash between the head of state and the government that took office last year.

"Today, I will return the law for a new vote in parliament," Djukanovic told a press conference on May 19, saying that the amendments would endanger the constitutional and legal system of Montenegro.

"Fundamental democratic principles and Montenegro"s partnership with the European Union are being destroyed," he added.

Parliament speaker Aleksa Becic called Djukanovic's move "political obstruction."

Under Montenegro’s constitution, the president can send a bill back to parliament to be reconsidered but is obliged to sign it if parliament adopts it again.

Lawmakers on May 12 adopted amendments to the Law on the State Prosecution Service despite concerns raised by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission of constitutional experts, who warned that the changes could make prosecutors more susceptible to political influence.

Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the main opposition party in parliament, has boycotted the work of the chamber in protest.

Proponents of the amendments argue that a change in personnel in the Prosecutor's Office is necessary in order to achieve results in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

The DPS was ousted from power by a coalition led by the Democratic Front following parliamentary elections in August 2020.

The president already confronted the new governing coalition in January when he rejected bills adopted by parliament, including amendments to a controversial law on religion.

Supporters of Nikolai Platoshkin outside the court in Moscow.

MOSCOW -- A well-known Russian video blogger and political activist has been handed a five-year suspended prison sentence for an online post that criticized the government and urged people to attend unsanctioned anti-government rallies.

Nikolai Platoshkin was also fined 700,000 rubles ($9,500) by a Moscow court on May 19 in what human rights defenders denounced as part of the authorities' "harsher" crackdown aimed at silencing critical views ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

A former diplomat, Platoshkin was placed under house arrest in June after investigators charged him with calling for unsanctioned rallies and mass disorder. He pleaded not guilty.

Platoshkin, 55, tried to get elected to parliament's lower chamber as a candidate for the Communist Party in the past. He is well-known for his pro-communist views. Between 1987 and 2006, he worked at diplomatic missions in Germany and the United States.

More recently, he has headed a political movement called For A New Socialism. His YouTube commentaries on Russian politics have garnered thousands of views.

Amnesty International has recognized Platoshkin as a prisoner of conscience, calling the sentence against him "another nail in the coffin for the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Russia."

"The case was clearly fabricated to prevent him from participating in public life and punish him for daring to criticize Putin's stranglehold on power," Amnesty's Moscow director, Natalya Zviagina, said in a statement.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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