Monday

20th Feb 2017

'Russian nationalists' linked to Montenegro plot

  • Dukanovic (r) was to have been killed by a hired sniper (Photo: nato.int)

Prosecutors in Montenegro have said that “Russian nationalists” were behind an attempted coup against the country’s pro-Nato leader last month.

Milivoje Katnic, the country’s chief special prosecutor, told press on Sunday (6 November): “We don’t have any evidence that the state of Russia is involved in any sense … but we have evidence that two nationalists from Russia were organisers”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The organisers of this criminal group were nationalists from Russia whose initial premise and conclusion was that the government in Montenegro led by Milo Dukanovic cannot be changed in election and that it should be toppled by force," he added.

“The plan was to stop Montenegro on its Euro-Atlantic path, especially to prevent it from entering Nato,” he said.

He said the plan was for some 500 people to stir up violence on the night of parliamentary elections on 16 October and to “hire professional sharpshooters to kill the prime minister”.

He said the plot was partly prepared in Serbia and that Serbian authorities had helped to quash it.

He also said that the two Russian nationalists in question were at large and had possibly returned to Russia.

"State authorities revealed that a criminal group had been formed on the territories of Montenegro, Serbia and Russia with a task to commit an act of terrorism," Katnic said.

“Special prosecution of Serbia had those persons [the two organisers] under its supervision … and prevented them from realising their plan,” he said.

“Those persons are not on the territory of Serbia any more. I don’t know where they are now, in Russia or somewhere else”.

Montenegro last month already arrested 20 people in connection with the allegations, one of whom, Bratislav Dikic, a Serb nationalist, remains in prison with 13 others.

The Serbian prime minister Aleksandr Vucic has said that the Serbian members of the plot had nothing to do with state structures.

He said they had coordinated their activities with “foreigners” and used “very modern equipment” to track Dukanovic’s movements ahead of the alleged assassination attempt.

Serbian press reported that Vucic might have allowed the organisers to slip back to Russia following a visit to Belgrade in late October by a Russian security chief, Nikolai Patrushev, but Vucic declined to comment on those reports.

Montenegro split from Serbia in a referendum in 2006 and aims to join Nato next spring following ratification of the decision by Nato members.

Serbia, an old Russian ally, aims to join the EU, but does not plan to join Nato and has not aligned its foreign policy with the West in an effort to maintain close ties with Russia also.

The differences in approach were seen last week when Montenegro hosted a small Nato drill, while Serbia, at the same time, played host to exercises by Belarusian and Russian paratroopers.

Dukanovic himself recently stepped down from office, but said his decision was not related to the alleged plot.

Some anti-government groups, who accuse his government of corruption, have said the plot was a fiction designed to protect his image.

Speaking to EUobserver at the Nato summit in Warsaw in July, Dukanovic warned that Russia had created “strongholds” in the Western Balkans.

“They [the Russians] have their strongholds, the role of which is to oppose Nato and the EU, not only in our country, but in all the countries of the region”, he said.

“These minorities have very frequent contacts with Moscow. It is clear Russia is very supportive and provides the logistics for certain political parties, NGOs, and media outlets which are trying to hamper Montenegro’s path to Euro-Atlantic integration”, he said.

“Do I see this as a peril? Yes, I do”, he said.

Opinion

Kosovo on the brink over Montenegro deal

Thaci government faces revolt over Montenegro deal - the straw that broke the camel's back after years of misrule and economic stagnation.

Interview

EU warned of Russian 'peril' in Western Balkans

Russia is actively working with “strongholds” of anti-Western sentiment in the Balkans to compete for influence, Montenegro’s prime minister has warned.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty