Since the end of 2018, protestors in Albania, Montenegro and Serbia have been taking to the streets to express their frustration and anger at corruption and organized crime. Journalists in the region are being targeted for exposing high-level graft, like Olivera Lakić, who, in May 2018, was shot in the leg after revealing the complicity of senior Montenegrin officials in cigarette smuggling. People with alleged links to crime have been arrested and questioned in connection with the murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanović. Mafia-style hits are becoming increasingly common in the region, due in large part to a long-running feud between powerful groups in the underworld of Montenegro and Serbia. Police have been shot in Sarajevo trying to apprehend car thieves. In other cases, police and border guards have been sentenced for corruption, bribery, and even robbery and conspiracy to commit crimes. These and other incidents, which are described later in this report, are the tentacles of an ugly and dangerous octopus that lives just below the surface.

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