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Russians accused of attempting a coup in Montenegro

Source: Meduza
Photo: Stevo Vasiljevic / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA

Montenegrin prosecutors have formally accused Russian nationalists of attempting a coup in the country and trying to kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. Amongst the detained conspirators were Serbs who fought on the side of pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass. The Kremlin has denied involvement in the events. Meduza gives you the details on the attempted coup in Montenegro.

In order to overthrow the government of Montenegro, conspirators planned to kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, said the country’s special affairs prosecutor Milivoje Katnich on November 6. According to investigators, Djukanovic was to be shot dead by a sniper on election day (October 16, 2016). This is why the Prime Minister was being spied on by conspirators. Afterwards, they hoped to overtake the Parliament of Montenegro. It was also planned that 500 Serbian militants and activists would penetrate the country and one of the opposition parties was to take hold of power. Katnich did not specify which one. According to newspaper Kommersant, however, this was to be pro-Russian political party Democratic Front, which had announced protests shortly before elections.

The coup d’etat had been brainstormed by two "Russia nationalists" who had found a person in Serbia to train terrorists to seize power, the prosecutor said. Until recently, the Russian nationalists were in Serbia; they were being monitored by local security forces. “These people are no longer in Serbia. I do not know where they are, [perhaps] in Russia or somewhere else,” said Katnich. Belgrade has refuted both that the Russian nationalists had been deported and that Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev had visited Serbia to negotiate for their extradition.

Amongst the 14 people who have been detained are those who fought in the Donbass on the side of pro-Russian separatists. Their names have not been specified. According to Kommersant, one of them is Aleksander Sindzhelich, leader of nationalist organization “Serbian wolves.” Sindzhelich spent several months in Ukraine and also recruited volunteers from Serbia. Belgrade agreed to give Sindzhelich over to Montenegrin authorities. He is now giving testimony on the other participants of the failed coup.

The purpose of the coup was to prevent Montenegro’s accession to NATO. The Democratic Party of Socialists, led by Milo Djukanovic, won 41 percent of the vote in the election. The heart of its platform was Montenegro's integration into the EU and NATO. The party opposed the Democratic Front, which is openly supported by Moscow and pro-Kremlin political party United Russia. The prosecutor's office believes that Djukanovic became the target of conspirators because of his pro-Western rhetoric. It is expected that Montenegro will become a full member of NATO in spring 2017.

The Kremlin denied any involvement in the coup attempt. “We categorically deny the possibility of any official involvement in organizing … illegal actions,” said the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.