By Dusica Tomovic
The Telegraph published on Tuesday what it said were surveillance photographs “obtained by European intelligence agencies” that could offer “key proof” that Russian intelligence officers plotted a violent takeover of power in the Balkan state last October.
The coup would have ended in the assassination of Milo Djukanovic, the Montenegrin prime minister at the time, the newspaper said.
The photos allegedly show two officers of Russia’s GRU military spy service, Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, meeting Serbian nationalist Sasa Sindjelic in a Belgrade park.
Sindjelic was allegedly hired to orchestrate the coup in Montenegro during the October 16 elections.
Shishmakov and Popov are to stand trial starting on September 6, alongside 13 others, for their part in the alleged plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and Djukanovic in order to prevent the country joining NATO.
According to the Telegraph, the photographs are believed to have been taken in the Serbian capital around the time of the foiled coup.
The opposition in Montenegro and some anti-government media outlets continue to claim that the coup was staged by the authorities to ensure Djukanovic won another election.
Russia also has denied involvement in the alleged plot, although Moscow supports Montenegro’s Democratic Front and other opposition groups which oppose NATO membership and champion closer ties to the Kremlin.
Russia strongly objected to Montenegro joining NATO, and threatened unspecified retaliation after the country became a member of the Western military alliance in June.