‘Russian nationalists’ behind Montenegro coup plot

Montenegro's Chief Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime, Milivoje Katnic, on Nov. 6 accused "nationalists in Russia" of having organized a cell to overthrow the government during last month's elections in the Balkan country. Katnic told a press conference that the prosecution had evidence that the "criminal organization" was formed in Russia and Serbia to commit "a terrorist attack" during the Oct. 16 poll, and "violently to overthrow the legally elected government." He said the plan was to attack police outside of the parliament building, break into the chamber, kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and declare a pro-Russian government. A group of 20 Serbian nationals were arrested in connection with the supposed plot on election day—including a former commander of Serbia's Gendarmerie, Bratislav Dikic. Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists went on to win the election.

In the months leading to the election, Djukanovic stated that the vote represented Montenegro's choice to join the West or become a "Russian colony." Since the race, Djukanovic has said that the thwarted coup was intended to prevent further westernization of Montenegro. Opposition groups and media are charging that the attempted coup was actually planned by the government to ensure Djukanovic remained in office.

Djukanovic's party did not achieve an overall majority, which may block his plans for deepening ties to the West. Since seceding from Serbia in 2006, Montenegro has developed ties with EU and NATO, with the country expected to become a NATO member in 2017. (Jurist, Nov. 7; Balkan Insight, BBC News, Nov. 6)