The high court in Podgorica confirmed on June 8 the indictments of two opposition leaders and several others suspected of plotting a coup aimed at seizing power after the October 2016 general election.
On the night of October 15, Montenegrin police arrested 20 Serbian paramilitaries suspected of planning to disrupt the general election the next day. Most of them agreed to testify in exchange for shorter jail sentences. During the investigation, the prosecution revealed that two of the leaders of the pro-Russian opposition Democratic Front (DF) – Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, two Russians and several Serbs were involved in the plot.
The prosecution has accused the two Russians – Eduard Sirokov and Vladimir Popov – of organising the plot. Sirokov was also accused of “preparing acts against the constitutional order and security of Montenegro through incitement” and terrorism. According to earlier media reports, the prosecution has also discovered that Sirokov is a member of the Russian security services.
“Today the case will be given to a trial judge and the trial will be scheduled within the legal deadline of two months,” the high court said in a statement on its website.
Mandic and Knezevic were accused along with 10 others of creating a criminal organisation. On February 15, the parliament stripped them of their immunity and allowed their arrest by the special prosecution. Although they were not arrested, the prosecution has already started interrogating them.
In March, they filed appeals with the constitutional court against the parliament's decision to lift their immunity, demanding that the court halt the parliament’s decision and claiming that the move was illegitimate.
Both Moscow and the DF have repeatedly denied any involvement in the coup and claimed this was part of the efforts of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) to win the election.
DPS leader Milo Djukanovic said in an interview with Associated Press that the coup was part of Russia's efforts to destroy the European Union. He added that by its interventions in Montenegro, Moscow wants to demonstrate to the West that Europe and Nato cannot expand without its consent. Montenegro, however, joined Nato on June 5th.
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