The Press

Montenegro accuses Russia of directing coup plot

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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 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 then prime minister, pro-Western Milo 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. – Telegraph Group

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

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