Vandal act over the shrine of Saint Vasilije of Ostrog near Gusinje, Montenegro

July 16, 2020. The church-yard of St. Vasilije of Ostrog in the village of Martinovići near Gusinje, Montenegro, has constantly been under attacks of a group of vandals, but the State Security Centre has not done anything concerning that.

The recently erected gate and fence around the church property, in order to prevent entry of cattle into the church, has been taken away this morning, according to the words of the parish priest Bojan Radunović. He says that the gate was in its place last night, and this morning around 7 o’clock passers-by noticed that it was not there, and consequently he informed the Church Board about it. The priest Radunović assumes that it was an organized action in which several people had to participate, considering the fact that the gate was very heavy and of large dimensions. He and members of the Church Board visited the surrounding area, within a circle of 5-6 kilometers, but without any success.

If the police had really been in due course in this country, they could have received a search warrant from a judge this morning and the fence would have been found in someone’s yard. “The case was reported to the State Security Center at Plav as a grave theft, an act of vandalism, “ said the priest.

There is a suspicion that a resident of Albanian nationality (K.H.) took part in the act on that Sunday, who had previously threatened the priest Radunović that he would demolish everything that had been done, including the church, and threatened him with death.

Namely, on the eve of Vidovdan (*28th of June – Holy Lazarus and All Serbian Martyrs) the parish priest of Gornji Polim and Gusinje was exposed to provocation at this church yard when he was arranging the yard with two locals. Then a young man appeared insulting them and threatening to destroy everything and kill the priest! They called the police, and the investigation was carried out by inspector Fadilj Hasandjekić, who is related to the above-mentioned person suspected of being one of the participants in the vandalism. The investigation hasn’t had any results so far, just as nothing has been done concerning a last year’s breaking and throwing of a wooden cross into a nearby river. It is suspected that this was done by the former head of the communal police (B.H.), who, by the way, had threatened to set fire to the church if it would have been restored.

Additionally, it has regularly happened that local Albanians let cattle to graze on the church property. According to Father Bojan, within the last three months they addressed the police several times, because they had found a broken fence and cattle grazing and desecrating the shrine. This morning, a whole stable of horses has been brought there, which act, according to the parish priest, was also organized in order to provoke.

Presbyter Bojan Radunović comments that the Orthodox population of this area does not feel safe going to church, and in support of that he points out the recent case when an old woman was insulted by a group of Albanian young men. It has been tragic that today’s vandalism happened on a great national feast-day – the Statehood Day of Montenegro.

“This situation endangers everyone in this area. It is an act of vandalism, intruding someone else’s property, desecration of a religious building, pressure on the Orthodox population with the intention that in the middle of our Montenegro one must not go to church and pray to God, “ said priest Radunović.

The Church of St. Basil of Ostrog was consecrated in 1938 and demolished in 1941. Its remains are the present walls one meter high in the entire base. It was demolished in 1941 by those whose descendants do not allow this Orthodox shrine to be restored today.

Visual testimony: