Prostitution Claims Shake Montenegrin Minister

Montenegro’s Interior Minister has been accused of using prostitutes after a months-long police probe into elite prostitution rings.

Rasko Konjevic
Montenegrin Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic on Wednesday denied allegations that he has used prostitutes, calling it a “hideous lie”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Konjevic said he had filed charges with the Special Prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, after finding out that police in the anti-organised crime department in co-operation with criminals and the media were preparing to discredit his reputation.
“It is clear that organized crime and their tentacles in the police and the media were preparing to discredit me,” Konjevic said.
Media reports said the minister was accused by a police officer, Djoko Golubovic, who claimed that Konjevic had been “visiting prostitutes over a long period”.
Golubovic was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of misuse of official position and a court ordered him into three days of custody.
The police officer defended himself by saying that he only repeated what he was told when interrogating a suspect arrested in police actions to break up prostitution rings.
In the last two months, police have conducted several operations against prostitution, which is illegal in Montenegro and involves harsh prison sentences.
In a police action named “Doll” in late August, Zeljka Rolovic from the resort town of Kotor was arrested on suspicion of soliciting organising a prostitution ring which included several women.
She is suspected of arranging and organizing sexual services in “hotels, villas, boats and other locations” in towns on the coast for the purpose of financial gain.
Photographs of Rolovic from her numerous journeys around the world, in luxury hotels and attending lavish parties on the Montenegrin coast, have since flooded the media.
Reportedly, the police investigation found that the list of her clients included both celebrities and politicians.
Social networks have speculated about which politicians and athletes used the services of the “Montenegrin Madame”, as the media nicknamed Rolovic.
Released on bail, Rolovic denied having anything to do with prostitution, accusing the media of destroying her life with tales of her “pimping, organized orgies and parties for politicians.
“Everything that I have I earned,” Rolovic said after her release from custody on September 4.
In another police raid in July, in the resort of Budva, named Pink3, three persons from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia were arrested on suspicion of organising a prostitution ring. Three days earlier, police said they broke up another prostitution ring in the capital, Podgorica.
Referring to claims that he was one of the clients of those arrested in the Pink3 operation, Konjevic said that he had asked the prosecution to check the allegation and whether any of those arrested had mentioned his name when giving testimony.
Local watchdogs have been warning for years that prostitution has became big business on the Montenegrin coast, especially in the new luxury tourist complexes, often involving wealthy foreign tourists. They say the number of women engaged in prostitution in Montenegro has risen sharply.
Mild sentences for convicted pimps have also been criticized.
Women’s Safe House, an organization that advocates for women’s rights, says prostitution is widespread all over Montenegro.
Prices of services range normally from 200 to 250 euro but in resorts like Budva, prices can go up to 1,000 euros, while in so-called “yacht prostitution” women can earn 3,000 or even 5,000 euro for a few days’ work, it explained.
Some parties advocate decriminalisation of the sex trade to push out the criminals, pimps and gangsters.
One party in the ruling coalition, the Liberal Party, advocates legal prostitution and the legal recognition of sex work, arguing that repression has only deepened the problem.
Last week, the party said that studies of public health institutions and NGOs showed that a high percentage of sex workers had been victims of violence or had been forced into sex work.

10 September 2015