Mourners “largely ignored” safety rules, said Montenegro’s daily newspaper Vijesti, reporting on last rites for Bishop Amfilohije Radovic that culminated at his funeral in Podgorica’s Serbian Orthodox cathedral on Sunday.
The pro-Serb cleric contracted COVID-19 in early October after backing opposition parties in an August election intent on forming a new government to oust President Milo Djukanovic’s pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).
Nevenka Pavlicic, the head of the Montenegrin hospital where Amfilohije died on Friday, had urged authorities to ban his open-casket funeral, describing it as a “lair of the disease.” Doctors had urged that the coffin be closed to crowds.
But, many mourners reportedly approached his remains, mask-less, without maintaining distance, with some customarily kissing the cleric’s hands or forehead.
Montenegrin authorities had already been struggling to contain viral spread in the small Balkans nation of 620,000, one-third Serbian, currently aligned with NATO.