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Montenegro Charges 14, Including Two Russians, With Coup Attempt

Montenegrin politician Milo Djukanovic in November 2016
Montenegrin politician Milo Djukanovic in November 2016

Montenegrin prosecutors have formally charged 14 people, including two Russians and two pro-Russia opposition leaders, with plotting to overthrow the government last year.

A Podgorica court on April 13 said lawmakers Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic of the Democratic Front, two Russians, nine Serbian citizens, and one other Montenegrin were charged with "creating a criminal organization."

The Russians were also charged with "terrorism."

The court has 15 days to decide whether to accept the indictments.

Montenegrin officials allege that Serbian and Russian nationalists plotted to take over parliament during the October 2016 parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russia leadership to halt Montenegro’s bid to join NATO.

Prosecutors said the Russians, identified as Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were based in Serbia and were allowed by authorities there to return to Russia. They remain at large.

Accused lawmaker Mandic on April 13 called the charges "a staged political process against the opposition."

Montenegro's special prosecutor has said “Russian state bodies” were involved in the alleged coup, something Russia denies.

On April 12, a senior White House official told reporters that the United States was concerned about “credible reports of Russian support for an attempted election-day attack on the government."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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