Monday, November 7, 2016

Russian nationalists ‘behind Montenegro attack plot’

PODGORICA, Montenegro: A Montenegrin prosecutor claimed Sunday that Russian nationalists were behind a planned anti-government attack during last month's election but said there was no evidence that Moscow was directly involved.

Police arrested a group of Serbians on the eve of the vote saying they had plotted to seize Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and parliament after polls closed in the Balkan state and proclaim victory for the opposition. The special prosecutor for organised crime and corruption, Milivoje Katnic, told reporters that "a powerful organization" of about 50 people from Russia, Serbia and Montenegro was behind the plot.
"The organizers are Russian nationalists. The aim was to stop Montenegro on its Euro-Atlantic path and in particular joining NATO," Katnic said.

But he added: "We have no evidence that the state of Russia was in any way involved."
"We will keep cooperating with Russia because organizers of this criminal group are Russian citizens," Katnic said, adding that two Russian nationals allegedly involved were still at large.
Fourteen of those arrested, including a retired Serbian police commander, have been placed under one-month detention while the other six were released.

One of the alleged main organizers, Aleksandar Sindjelic, was reported by Montenegrin media to have fought along with pro-Russian forces in the war in eastern Ukraine. Katnic also said his office suspected that an opposition party in Montenegro was involved in the plot, without naming it.
Local media have reported that the main opposition pro-Russian Democratic Front was linked to the case, claims the bloc has repeatedly denied.

The Democratic Front openly calls for closer ties with Russia and Serbia and is against membership of either the EU or NATO, calling for a referendum on joining the military alliance.
Montenegro was invited to join NATO in December, a decision yet to be ratified by Podgorica and existing member states.

Djukanovic's party topped the polls in October but he himself is stepping down and his deputy Dusko Markovic has been chosen to form the new government.

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