Russian nationalists organised the alleged coup attempt on the eve of Montenegro’s October 16 general election and planned to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro’s special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said late on November 6. The aim of the plot was to help an unnamed opposition party to take power.
Relations between Russia and Montenegro have worsened recently, as Montenegro approaches Nato membership. Djukanovic claimed shortly before the election that Russia had been interfering in the campaign and funding opposition parties with the aim of ousting the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). However, opposition politicians have claimed that the alleged coup attempt was in fact staged by the DPS.
Investigations have revealed that the organisers of the alleged terrorist group, which supposed to carry out terror attacks and create disorder on October 16, were nationalists from Russia, Katnic told a press conference broadcast by RTCG on November 6.
However, Katnic said that the prosecution has not found any proof that they were connected to the Russian state.
A skilled long-distance shot was hired to assassinate Djukanovic, according to Katnic. He also indicated that the prosecution already has an idea who was supposed to kill the prime minister, but is currently gathering solid proof.
On the night of October 15, Montenegrin police arrested 20 Serbian paramilitaries on suspicion of planning to disrupt the elections. Among those arrested was former Serbia police commander Bratislav Dikic, also known as “The Little Legija", who has been under investigation on suspicion of leading a mafia organisation in Serbia along with his brother Dragan. Dikic was dismissed as a Serbian gendarmerie commander in 2013 after one of his men was arrested for murder.
According to the police, the group was suspected of planning to obtain automatic weapons and attack state institutions, the police and representatives of state authorities, including top state officials. Local media reported that they were planning to arrest Djukanovic. Dikic and most of the group were interrogated and held in jail.
On November 6, Katnic said that the group, which was supposed to attack Montenegro on October 16, had to include 50 people with automatic weapons. The police have yet to track down and arrest some of the participants in the plot.
Earlier in November, Sergei Zhelezhnyak, deputy speaker of the Russian Duma, who holds a high position in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, claimed that the coup attempt had been staged by the DPS with the aim of gaining more votes. Similar suspicions have been expressed also by some opposition parties in Montenegro and by the Warsaw-based Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).
The alleged coup attempt was among the main reasons for the decision of Montenegro’s opposition not to recognise the election results. On October 17, the pro-Russian Democratic Front (DF), the civic-oriented Kljuc coalition, Demokratska Crna Gora and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) decided they would not recognise the results, claiming there were huge irregularities. The parties pointed out that a fair and transparent election cannot be held when a coup is about to happen in a country.
The same parties said they would not attend the inaugural session of parliament scheduled for November 7. The DF has also asked the constitutional court to annul the decision of the state election body, DIK, to announce the final results of the election. The DF claimed that the conditions on election day did not allow citizens to freely express their will.
At the same time, those opposition parties plan to ask President Filip Vujanovic to give them the mandate to form the new government.
In the October 16 general election, the Djukanovic’s DPS once again got the highest number of votes – 41.41% - which will secure the party 36 seats in the new parliament. The party hopes to quickly form a new ruling coalition with the participation of the parties representing ethnic minorities in Montenegro, and the Social Democrats (SD), getting 42 MPs in the 81-seat parliament. However, representatives of the ethnic parties have said they are also willing to work with the opposition, depending on to whom Vujanovic decides to give the mandate.
Immediately after Montenegro’s parliament holds its inaugural session on November 7, Vujanovic has said he will start consultations with all political parties in order to decide to whom to give the mandate for the new government.
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