Mon­tene­gro ac­cuses Rus­sia of be­ing be­hind coup plot

Waikato Times Weekend - - WORLD -

MON­TENE­GRO: Rus­sian mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers spent months over­see­ing a coup plot to over­throw Mon­tene­gro’s govern­ment and kill its prime min­is­ter, pros­e­cu­tors in the Balkan nation al­lege.

Ed­uard Shish­makov and Vladimir Popov of the GRU spy agency gave their plot ring­leader large sums for weapons and equip­ment and he was also given a lie de­tec­tor test to check he was not a West­ern in­tel­li­gence agent, it is claimed.

A lengthy in­dict­ment against the plot­ters al­leges the net­work was passed so­phis­ti­cated en­crypted phones set up from Moscow, while at least one money trans­fer to the con­spir­a­tors was made from the same street as GRU head­quar­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to de­tails of the Mon­tene­grin govern­ment’s case, pros­e­cu­tors also say they have gath­ered sur­veil­lance ev­i­dence of the Rus­sian of­fi­cers meet­ing the Ser­bian rad­i­cals they hired to carry out the op­er­a­tion.

A to­tal of 14 sus­pects, in­clud­ing two pro-Rus­sian op­po­si­tion lead­ers, face trial in the Mon­tene­grin cap­i­tal for ter­ror­ism of­fences over the al­leged plot.

The two Rus­sians, who re­main at large, are be­ing tried in their ab­sence.

Ac­cord­ing to de­tails of the in­dict­ment, the plot is al­leged to have be­gun in early 2016 when an uniden­ti­fied Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence colonel met mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion ‘‘to dis­cuss a planned desta­bil­i­sa­tion op­er­a­tion dur­ing the Mon­tene­gro elec­tions’’.

Mon­tene­grin po­lice ar­rested a group of Ser­bian na­tion­als on the eve of a gen­eral elec­tion on October 16 last year. They were ac­cused of plan­ning to storm the par­lia­ment, some dis­guised as po­lice of­fi­cers, and tar­get the then prime min­is­ter, Milo Djukanovic, while also fir­ing on a crowd of pro­test­ers to cause chaos. Bri­tish and United States of­fi­cials be­lieve the con­spir­acy had high-level back­ing from Rus­sia.

The big­gest case in Mon­tene­grin le­gal his­tory has di­vided pub­lic opin­ion, with many sus­pect­ing the plot was a fake in­vented by Djukanovic, a sug­ges­tion he de­nies.

The Krem­lin has strongly de­nied any in­volve­ment, while the op­po­si­tion lead­ers on trial, An­drija Mandic and Mi­lan Kneze­vic of the Demo­cratic Front party, deny wrong­do­ing and say the coup was con­cocted to dis­credit them.

The trial had been due to start this week but was post­poned un­til Septem­ber af­ter a se­ries of le­gal ap­pli­ca­tions from the de­fen­dants’ lawyers, who say the state pros­e­cut­ing team is bi­ased and they fear that they are be­ing wire­tapped.

– Tele­graph Group

The Monene­gro govern­ment is­sued this wanted poster for Vladimir Popov and Ed­uard Shish­makov un­der his alias Shi­rokov.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.