CDT in 2023.



Montenegro started 2023 with a deep political crisis, as the then Government suffered a defeat in Parliament on the vote of confidence, which eventually led to a dissolution of the Parliament.

The year was marked by two major electoral processes – the presidential and parliamentary elections. Following the parliamentary elections, formation of the new Government turned into a lengthy process, which would last until the very end of the year.

This extended period of political instability did not facilitate civil society advocacy, primarily due to a lack of functional institutions and responsible political subjects who would discuss potential changes and improvements in public policies.

In 2023, CDT carried out the most complex civil election observation project in its 23 years of existence. The complexity of the political environment required additional efforts to preserve impartiality and objectivity of the organisation. The CDT team managed to preserve integrity and impartiality, while adopting new ways of communicating with the public that increased the visibility of our initiatives to a hitherto unprecedented level.

Furthermore, we saw this year as an opportunity to grow and strengthen virtually all segments of our work as a non-governmental organisation.

In such a complex operational environment for NGOs, we insisted on projecting a clear vision of societal changes, and consistently adhered to our fundamental principles. By preserving impartiality and objectivity, CDT not only improved its credibility in the public, but also created a new model for efficient and principled participation of civil society in relations with all important social actors.

In 2023, our organisation played a key role in advocating for democratic reforms, transparency, and the rule of law. We focused on challenging controversial decisions, initiating constitutional reviews of poor regulations, and advocating for open governance, which led to notable improvements in democracy and the rule of law.

The organisation’s leading role in the Regional Index of Openness, where the Parliament of Montenegro ranked as the most transparent parliament in the region this year, is proof of our positive influence on the promotion of transparency in governance.

The Citizens’ Assembly, which focused on electoral reform and local democracy, empowered citizens to actively engage in policy making, which demonstrates CDT’s commitment to the very foundations of democracy., our fact-checking platform, has played a key role in combating disinformation, particularly during elections, ensuring that voters are better informed, and contributing to a democratic electoral process.

Our activities in the previous year received donor support in the form of numerous projects and programmes. Institutional support provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and SMART Balkans enabled our organisational and programmatic development, as well as implementation of activities in various thematic areas.

International and European politics and foreign influence

Montenegro wasted another year in terms of the process of European integration. A Parliament that was dissolved most of the time, and a delegitimised Government that acted in an unprecedentedly long technical mandate did not bring about progress in the sphere of rule of law, nor did it unblock negotiations on membership with the European Union, as clearly stated in the European Commission progress report.

CDT assessed that the 2023 EC report provided a realistic assessment of the situation in all negotiation areas, offering detailed insights, justified criticisms and guidelines, indicating that Montenegro could unblock the negotiation process.

In cooperation with the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), we published an analysis that mapped out key problems hindering the Parliament from taking an active role in the European integration process of Montenegro. We underlined the limited use of oversight mechanisms, failed attempts at dialogue, and deliberate obstruction, especially in key committees. We highlighted the urgent need for Parliament to prioritise national interests over political divides, encouraging a more constructive and unified approach to the EU reform agenda.

In the wider context of political instability, there was no progress in resisting undue foreign influence. Thus, we continued to advocate for the establishment of a special parliamentary committee that would deal with foreign influence in democratic processes, modelled on the INGE committee in the European Parliament.

In the process of election monitoring, CDT focused on tackling attempts to undermine the democratic electoral process by malign regional and global actors, through political, financial and media influence.

We also worked on protecting the Montenegrin media space from undue influence and media pressure from abroad, and offered an analysis of international standards and comparative solutions related to limiting foreign media ownership.

Activities in this programme area were implemented through the following projects:

• Fact-Checking for Resilience against Disinformation, Embassy of the United States of America Podgorica

• Exposing Malign Influences through data-driven Watchdog Journalism, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

• Inclusive Dialogue for the Progress of Society, Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro and the Ministry of Public Administration

Community resilience

Last year, our fact-checking platform,, marked five years of existence. Despite the growing threat of disinformation fuelled by powerful patrons, and the absence of strong institutions and effective policies and plans to tackle these negative phenomena, Raskrinkavanje has grown stronger in this period.

We joined the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), founded the SEECheck regional fact-checking network with likeminded associates, became partners for Montenegro on the META (Facebook) fact-checking programme, and became verified members of the European Fact-Checking Standards Network (EFCSN). We took part in the development of the European Code

of Standards for Independent Fact-Checking Organisations, and met the standards set out in the Code, acting independently, ethically, and with devotion to serving the public interest.

In the past five years, we published almost 2,500 papers, analysing over 5,000 media and social media posts. Our influence is best reflected by the fact that media outlets started to amend their content, addressing errors and cases of disinformation. We contributed to editing of over 300 pieces of disinformation in the media from the entire region.

Las year alone, we published over 600 articles debunking disinformation, analysing posts from over 1,000 media sources and social media platforms. Additionally, we published numerous analyses and articles that carefully scrutinised disinformation and propaganda narratives. We also conducted public opinion surveys, gauging the negative impact of disinformation on citizens’ attitudes and values.

In 2023, Raskrinkanje paid particular attention to political and social processes that were marked by disinformation campaigns. We contributed to a notable improvement of the electoral environment by identifying and exposing disinformation that was published in the media and on social media platforms, thereby ensuring that citizens’ views on the offer in the presidential and parliamentary elections were based on authentic and verified information. Similarly, in an environment of pronounced political polarisation, we worked on increasing access to credible information regarding the population census.

In the past five years, Raskrinkavanje focused on verification of publications concerning international and regional politics, human rights and democracy, as well as publications in areas of special interest, such as public health. In 2023, we established cooperation with the Centre for Climate Change, Natural Resources and Energy of the University of Donja Gorica, in order to strengthen activity in the field of combating disinformation and conspiracy theories about climate and climate change.

We also spent the last year investing significant efforts in advocating for changes in the legislative and institutional framework and implementation of good practices for effective fight against disinformation and strengthening societal resilience.

In cooperation with a number of external experts, we produced several policy proposals and advocated for changes in strategies and the legislative framework. Through public events and a regional conference on disinformation, we created an expert and activist forum for a constructive dialogue on these topics with decision makers.

Activities in this programme area were implemented through the following projects:

• TruthShield Balkans: and Fake News Tragač Combating Disinformation in Montenegro and Serbia, CFI, French Media Development

• Montenegro Population Census 2023: Combating spread of disinformation, Open Information Partnership

• Fact-Checking for Resilience against Disinformation, Embassy of the United States of America Podgorica

• Active Citizens Against Disinformation, Embassy of the United States of America Podgorica

• Social Media Monitoring, National Democratic Institute

• SEECheck network – Fighting Disinformation and Misinformation through a Network of Factcheckers, the European Commission and the Ministry of Public Administration

• Exposing Malign Influences through data-driven Watchdog Journalism, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

• Good Governance in Cybersecurity in the Western Balkans, DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance

• Elections in Montenegro – analysis of political online advertising, European Partnership for Democracy

Culture of memory

The majority of activities in this area were carried out with the aim of suppressing the tendencies of ethno-nationalism, advocating for the establishment of a society of tolerance, supporting the work of individuals and civil society organisations that share those values, and opposing the increasingly evident historical revisionism.

Through a set of symbolically prepared activities that venerate the memory of our anti-fascist history, we opposed the glorification of old and contemporary war criminals, the undermining and endangering of women’s rights, and the constant exacerbation of the position of workers in society.

No less significant was our work on affirmation of the principles of secularity of the state and society, which are under threat on a daily basis.

In this sense, we submitted to the Constitutional Court an initiative for evaluation of the legality and constitutionality of the adopted motion for the municipality of Nikšić to have an Orthodox saint patron day. We believe that this decision by the local authorities placed one religious community in a privileged status compared to others, including atheists and agnostics, and that it violated the principle of equality of citizens, freedom of religion, and the prohibition of direct or indirect discrimination against citizens on any basis.

In addition to CDT employees, activists from all the former Yugoslav countries took part in these activities, particularly where they faced similar challenges in their own communities.

Projects implemented in this programme area in 2023 are as follows:

  • The past for the future – “Against the dark, against the force”
  • “Action”

Fair electoral process

Our most important task in 2023 was to contribute to opposing election manipulation and all attempts to undermine this crucial democratic institute.

At the very start of the year, we prepared a detailed plan for monitoring presidential and parliamentary elections in all stages of these processes. To that end, we temporarily increased our team to over 1,000 people, who were accredited to perform the task of controlling the electoral process on the ground.

Additionally, we organised all-day live podcasts during election day, with thousands of activists joining our electoral community, sending us their observations, and drawing attention to events in all Montenegrin municipalities.

Our “Vote Freely” campaign was designed to encourage people to defend their inviolable right to free choice – free from undue influence, intimidation, and corruption.

Once again, we found evidence of personal data theft, and forgery of voters’ signatures, which we shared with the competent state institutions.

We stood against attempts to threaten our right to observe all aspects of the electoral process.

We raised our voice against party recruitment and official campaigns of abuse of state resources for party purposes.

We opposed an illegal decision of the State Election Commission, which threatened to jeopardise internationally-endorsed standards of a fair election process.

We built trust and consensus, contributing to an improved electoral process, and signed the “Code for Fair Elections” with 14 of the 15 lists that participated in parliamentary elections. The objective of this document was to affirm a positive and democratic campaign, and to address the shortcomings inherent in our electoral processes.

The Code promoted a peaceful and non-violent electoral process, refraining from any activities that could result in institutional advantage in the elections for some political subjects, opposing malign foreign influence on the electoral process regardless of the source, opposing the spread of disinformation related to the electoral process, refraining from exerting pressure on the election administration, refraining from any undue influence on voters and/or their privacy, condemning anonymous campaigns, and promoting respect for the democratically expressed will of citizens.

Our pre-election and election podcasts were watched by hundreds of thousands of people in the country and the region. In addition to resonating with citizens on the ground and informing them, these podcasts also managed to fulfil an educational and activist function – having featured dozens of relevant experts for various aspects of the election process.

The grand finale of our marathon election observation campaign, which included local elections in 2022, as well as two rounds of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023, was the bundle of recommendations for the upcoming process of electoral reform. A total of 35 fundamental recommendations contained in the bundle summarise our twenty-years-long experience in monitoring elections, and the need to improve electoral legislation and regulations. We believe that this document will form the basis for future reform efforts.

We implemented the following activities through projects:

  • ”Strengthening the Integrity of Electoral Processes”, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy
  • “Vote Freely – Montenegro 2023 Elections Monitoring Program”, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Institutional openness and good governance

CDT played an important role in opposing controversial laws that were planned for adoption, or adopted over the course of last year, and in promoting democratic procedures, transparency, and accountability of the authorities. The repeal of amendments to the Law on the President and the suspension of the disputed Law on Confiscation of Property confirmed the accuracy of our analyses and advocacy for preservation and improvement of the legal order and the system of separation of powers. CDT has been advocating for adoption of the Law on the Government and the Parliament for years, and last year we also contributed to the improvement of the first draft Law on the Government of Montenegro.

We also attempted to influence political elites to overcome established negative patterns of behaviour, encouraging them to approach political life and important decisions through the prism of public, rather than party interest. We underlined that a novel institutional approach to important topics such as European integration was required, and that as wide a circle as possible of different actors in our society that are not political subjects should be included in the process.

In cooperation with the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), we launched a project designed to contribute to the EU integration process by encouraging democratic reforms and good governance. We underlined that the Parliament should take a more active role in the process of European integration, which is why we relied on expert support in producing a series of publications to help the Parliament in implementing its legislative and supervisory role.

In November 2023, our cooperation with CEDEM resulted in another significant Citizens’ Assembly, which focused on electoral reform and public participation in decision-making at the local level. The aim of the Citizens’ Assembly was to enable citizens to have better access to policy making, and to better connect with decision makers.

Our advocacy for an open and transparent government continued through the Regional Index of Openness, implemented in cooperation with NGO Partners Serbia, the Metamorfozis Foundation from North Macedonia, the Citizens’ Association “Why not?” from BIH, NGO Gong from Croatia, and Today is a New Day from Slovenia. We identified numerous challenges in this area, and proposed the establishment of an efficient system that would guarantee free access to information and transparency in the work of public administration. We discussed our conclusions and proposals at the conference “Will the new government implement a better policy of openness?” which was attended by representatives of numerous Government institutions, NGOs from Montenegro and the region, the media and others.

Following the formation of the new Government in Montenegro, CDT published its observations on the content and quality of the Government programme. This document did not sufficiently define the current position of the country and the objectives that were to be achieved by the end of the mandate. Although the vision of Montenegro as the ‘Switzerland of the Balkans’ and the ‘Singapore of Europe’ has been presented, we underlined that the indicators for reaching these objectives were lacking.

Activities in this programme area were implemented through the following projects:

  • Inclusive Dialogue for the Progress of Society, Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro and the Ministry of Public Administration
  • The Use of New Media in Promoting Transparent Governance, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Implementing shared anti-corruption and good governance solutions in Southeast Europe: innovative practices and public-private partnerships, Norwegian Regional Cooperation Fund

Economic and demographic policy

One of the key topics in Montenegro in 2023 was the population census. Unlike other countries, Montenegro saw a high degree of politicisation of this issue, which became a battleground for ethno-nationalist policies. The key challenges were cultural and identity issues – nation, religion and language – which not only became a point of interest for political actors in Montenegro, but led to undue interference by neighbouring countries.

CDT carefully monitored census preparation and implementation, working to reduce politicisation, ethnic and religious polarisation, and highlight undue external influences. We analysed the overall environment, the transparency of the process, the influence of political parties on the network of coordinators and census takers, and the security of the process in terms of compliance with key statistical legislation, principles, and standards.

The new Government of Montenegro postponed the census by one month6, immediately upon taking power. Prime Minister Milojko Spajić joined discussions with opposition parties, national councils and non-governmental organisations, incorporating the set of recommendations that he received from CDT, both publicly and through direct communication. CDT actively contributed to meetings between the Prime Minister and the opposition, providing expertise and guidance to improve the contested situation.

Furthermore, in the course of last year, CDT initiated a comprehensive public discussion on key opportunities, weaknesses, and scenarios for development of our economy. Following several months of work with experts and doctors of economic sciences, we produced an analysis of contextual factors that affect economic development – ranging from the problematic transition, the need to adopt a real concept of sustainable development of the country, the need to develop social capital, to key issues in the fields of energy, tourism, production, agriculture, and analysis of macroeconomic indicators.

Our ambition was to establish political consensus on the right direction of economic development of the country, finding a common denominator agreed upon by the majority of political subjects. To this end, a series of activities and an online campaign were organised, which was open for public debate.

Activities in this programme area were implemented through the following projects:

· Montenegro Population Census 2023: Combating spread of disinformation, Open Information Partnership


This area of our work entails coordination of regular administrative and financial functioning of the organisation. We prepared an annual budget, monthly plans and reports, and organised our events and activities.

At the start of the year, CDT redesigned its website, thus improving visibility of the content and activities of our organisation. In doing so, we adhered to the highest standards of transparency regarding the work of our organisation, whereby all programmatic and financial information and documents regarding our activities are clearly highlighted on the website.

We formalised our security protocol, which defines the basic rules and accepted behaviours of our employees during and outside of working hours in relation to: security of premises, access to the office, methods of communication, including physical and ICT security of employees. We introduced the practice of record-keeping in meetings of the Executive Board, which serve as a basis for reporting on the quality of implemented activities, and future planning of the organisation. We also created a Rulebook on Communications and Public Relations, which defines our organisational approach to planning and communicating using the media, social networks and our website.

CDT has nine full-time employees. In 2023, we cooperated with 506 people from outside the organisation.

We conduct regular financial audits with the aim of assessing whether our financial reports and operations are in line with the law and international standards. All audit reports are available on our website.





Fact-Checking for Resilience against Disinformation

01/10/2022 – 30/09/2023

69,822.00 $

Embassy of the United States of America Podgorica

Active citizens against disinformation

01/10/2023 – 30/09/2024

69,970.00 $

Embassy of the United States of America Podgorica

Strengthening the Integrity of Electoral Processes

01/02/2023 – 31/01/2025

183,000.00 $

National Endowment for Democracy

The Use of New Media in Promoting Transparent Governance

01/10/2022 – 30/09/2024

133,000,00 $

National Endowment for Democracy

Institutional Support

18/01/2023 – 18/01/2025

100,000.00 $

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Institutional Support

01/01/2023 – 31/12/2024

510,000.00 NOK

Center for Civil Society Promotion

Vote Freely – Montenegro 2023 Elections Monitoring Program

01/05/2023 – 31/07/2023

10,000,00 €

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Implementing shared anti-corruption and good governance solutions in Southeast Europe: innovative practices and public-private partnerships

01/01/2021 – 31/12/2023

75,440.75 €

Norwegian Regional Cooperation Fund

Exposing Malign Influences through data-driven Watchdog Journalism

01/12/2021- 31/05/2025

189,250.00 €

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Good Governance in Cybersecurity in the Western Balkans

01/06/2021 – 31/03/2024

26,996.50 €

DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance


SEECheck network – fighting Disinformation and Misinformation through a Network of Factcheckers


01/01/2023 – 30/06/2026

172,885.12 €

European Commission

19,423.13 €

Ministry of Public Administration (cofinanced)


Inclusive Dialogue for the Progress of Society


09/01/2023 – 09/01/2025

67,899.21 €

Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro

7,544.36 €

Ministry of Public Administration (cofinanced)

Elections in Montenegro – analysis of political online advertising

15/02/2023 – 14/07/2023

50,000.00 €

European Partnership for Democracy

Social media monitoring


9,360.00 €

National Democratic Institute

Social media monitoring


9,241.00 €

National Democratic Institute

TruthShield Balkans: and Fake News Tragač Combating Disinformation in Montenegro and Serbia

01/10/2023 – 30/04/2024

34,968.00 €

CFI French Media Development Agency

Montenegro Population Census 2023: Combating spread of disinformation

01/10/2023 – 31/01/2024

26,000.00 £

Open Information Partnership

Checking misinformation on Facebook

01/01/2023 – 31/12/2023

180,000.00 €

Praxis Montenegro (Meta Platforms Ireland Limited)