Montenegro Asks Russia To Help With Coup Probe

By Dusica Tomovic

Montenegro has welcomed an announcement that Russian prosecutors are reviewing a request from Podgorica to help it investigate last October’s alleged coup attempt.

Montenegrin Justice Minister Zoran Pazin said on Friday that Montenegro had asked Moscow to allow its the special prosecutor to examine two Russian nationals suspected of having played a leading role in last October’s alleged coup.

Asked whether the special prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, will travel to Russia to question Vladimir Popov and Eduard Shishmakov, who are suspected of having organised the coup attempt on election day on October 16, the minister said no formal invitation had arrived yet.

“As a minister and Deputy Prime Minister, I’m looking forward to that kind of cooperation wit Russia. From our side, the Special State Prosecutor’s Office has sent a request for international legal assistance, asking a hearing of Shishmakov and Popov in the presence of our chief prosecutor and his associates,” Pazin said.

Pazin said that Montenegro had received confirmation of the authenticity of the passports of Shimakova and Popova from the Interpol office in Moscow.

On Thursday, the Russian prosecution said it was reviewing Montenegro’s request for help in the investigation.

But Moscow again rejected accusations that Russian military and security agencies were involved plan to overthrow the government and assassinate former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

On February 16, chief prosecutor Katnic accused Russia of orchestrating the attempted coup on October 16 in order to overthrow the pro-Western government and stop the Balkan country from joining NATO.

According to Katnic, the head of the group plotting the coup was Edward Shirokov whose real name was Edward Shishmakov.

“In 2014, Shishmakov was a deputy military attache at the Russian embassy in Poland, but got expelled for espionage for Russia,” Katnic explained.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported on Thursday that a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had told a press conference that allegations of Russian involvement were wide of the mark.

“The entire affair … changes its shape every month, new nuances appear … it doesn’t follow any logic. It is a pure lie,” said Zakharova, adding that the allegations were designed to divert people’s attention away from Montenegro’s own political problems.

Montenegro’s anti-NATO opposition has also continued to claim that the pro-Western government formerly led by Djukanovic faked the coup plot to discredit it.


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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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